Zervos, Christian

Full Name: 
Zervos, Christian
Other Names: 
Christian Zervos
Year Born: 
1889
Year Died: 
1970
Place Born: 
Argostoli, Cephalonia, Greece
Place Died: 
Paris, France
Home Country: 
Greece
France
Overview: 
Picasso scholar and magazine editor. Zervos was born in Greece but spent his childhood in Alexandria, Egypt. Bby age 22 had permanently settled in Paris where he received his doctorate (doctorat ès lettres) at the Sorbonne. Zervos joined the publishing firm Editions Morancé writing art articles for the magazine L'Art d'aujourd 'hui in 1924. As an editor, he met many of the artists about whom the magazine wrote: Henri Matisse, Georges Braque, Ferdinand Léger, and Pablo Picasso, for whom the latter exerted a strong influence on Zerevos' life. He left Morancé in 1926 to found his own journal Cahiers d'art, whose offices were located initially at the rue Bonaparte. The Cahiers featured contributions by scholars and critics alike in a wide range of fields, from prehistoric art to modern and was noted for its layout and presentation as much as its content. Zervos married Yvonne Marion (1905-1970) who ran an art gallery, Galerie du Dragon, next to the new location of her husband's shop, the rue Dragon on the left bank of Paris. Madame Zervos became an integral part of her husband's accomplishment and assembling their art collection. The publishing arm of the Cahiers issued monographs by important art historians, including Will Grohmann and Henry-Russell Hitchcock. Zervos himself issued an eclectic variety of monographs, including ones on Henri Rousseau, Greek art and Frank Lloyd Wright. His publishing group took over the project to document Matisse, first commissioned by Bernheims and then Guillaume, under the authorship of Matisse's son-in-law, the art historian Georges Duthuit. Zervos settled upon his life's work, a catalogue raisonné of Pablo Picasso in the early 1930s. Begun in 1932, the catalog was completed in 33 volumes after Zervos' death. The first exhibition of their archeological collection was mounted in 1934. In 1936 the couple worked to save many works of art from the Spanish civil war and the following year organized a show at the Jeu de Paume of the origins and development of international art. World War II interrupted many of Zervos' publishing projects, including the Cahiers, which suspended 1941-1943, resuming in 1944 to last until the end of his life. After the war he devoted his energies to the Picasso catalog. His wife's shop, moved to larger premises in 1939 and renamed the May Gallery, exhibited many of the major French artists active between the wars. His wife died early in 1970 and Zeros suffered a heart attack in Paris later the same year dying at age 81. In December of the same year, an exposition of their collection was mounted at the Grand Palais in Paris. Zervos' catalogue raisonné of Picasso was the first comprehensive one for the artist and remains an important source. He did not include, however, the works from the artist's own colllection of his, an omission of at least several important pieces.
Selected Bibliography: 
edited, Cahiers d'art. Paris: Éditions Cahiers d'art, 1926-1960. 35 vols.; Matthias Grünewald: le retable d'Isenheim. Paris: Éditions Cahiers d'art, 1936. Picasso étudié par le Dr Jung." Cahiers d'art 7 (1932): 352-54; Georges Braque. Paris: Cahiers d'art, 1933; Pablo Picasso [catalogue raisonné]. Paris: Éditions Cahiers d'art, 1932-78. Fernand Léger: œuvres de 1905 à 1952. Paris: Éditions Cahiers d'art,1952; L'art des Cyclades, du début à la fin de l'âge du bronze, 2500-1100 avant notre ère. Paris: Éditions Cahiers d'art, 1957.
Sources: 
"Bibliiographie des Articles de Christian Zervos parus dans la Revue 'Cahiers d'art." Hommage à Christian et Yvonne Zervos. Paris: Centre national d'art contemporain, 1970, pp. [9-12]; Fontbrune, Marc. "Biographie." Hommage à Christian et Yvonne Zervos. Paris: Centre national d'art contemporain, 1970, pp [5-6]; Monad-Fontaine, Isabelle. "Zervos." The Dictionary of Art 33: 638; [obituaries] Gazette des Beaux-Arts (December 1970): 32; ARTnews 69 (October 1970): 32; "Christian Zervos, Expert on Picasso, Dies in Paris." New York Times Sepember 14, 1970, p. 39; "M. Christian Zervos." Times (London) September 15, 1970, p. 12; Kleinbauer, W. Eugene. Research Guide to the History of Western Art. Sources of Information in the Humanities, no. 2. Chicago: American Library Association, 1982, p. 102, mentioned.
Contributor: 
Lee Sorensen