The French painter, illustrator, and writer Gaston Chaissac was born on August 13, 1910 in Avallon. He came from a poor family and was marked by illness from childhood on. He earned his living as a shoemaker. In 1934, Chaissac came to Paris and also worked here as a shoemaker at the start.
He stayed with his brother, who lived in the same house as the German artist couple of Otto Freundlich (1878–1943) and Jeanne Kosnick-Kloss (1892–1955), starting in 1937. It was only through the friendship with Freundlich that Gaston Chaissac developed the desire to become an artist. He trained himself as an autodidact and was supported and promoted by Freundlich. The latter also introduced him to the Parisian art scene.
The artist already exhibited his works in a gallery in 1938. During his longer stays at a sanatorium because of his tuberculosis in 1938 and 1939, Gaston Chaissac used the time to paint and draw. After his wedding with Camille Guibert in 1942, they moved to the Vendée.
The artist bridged this isolation in the countryside through lively correspondence with gallery owners, authors, and artists in Paris. Although Chaissac endeavored to establish a connection with the artist community, he was only valued as an artist by a small circle of gallery owners, journalists, and friends.
As a result, he did not receive the expected recognition during his lifetime. He is called one of the most free, complex, and provocative figures of the art world in his time. Gaston Chaissac worked as a tireless experimenter and used materials that he found for his works of art.
In addition, he painted on every substrate available to him, created pen-and-ink drawings, gouaches, watercolors, oil paintings, collages (since 1959), and unusual three-dimensional works. The artist was occasionally erroneously classified by Jean Dubuffet (1901–85) with the "Art brut".
Gaston Chaissac died on November 17, 1964 in La Roche-sur-Yon.