Patrice Stellest - Life and Career

Life and Career

In 1970, with 16, Stellest leaves Switzerland and moves to the United States, in Katchina, Arizona, where he paints. At this time, he meets Native American Indians whose life philosophy and approach towards nature will inspire him for the rest of his career. After a few years spent in the desert, Patrice Stellest moves to California. Rapidly, he meets Charles Lemaire, costume designer for Marilyn Monroe. After seeing young Patrice’s early costume designs, Charles offers to teach him fashion and design. Already influenced by the work of Max Ernst, Stellest foresees another path and declines the offer. Some time later, he receives a grant from the State of California and joins the experimental animation program at the California Institute of the Arts, in Valencia. There, under the Supervision of Jules Engel, chief animator of Walt Disney’s Fantasia who becomes his mentor, he studies the techniques of experimental animation and photo-animation, working on such machines as the Oxberry Master Series. He is also offered the opportunity to produce his first animated work, “The lady bug that wanted to be a flower”, on Walt Disney’s first personal Oxberry.

Later on, he is accepted at Art Center College of Design, in Pasadena, California, where he studies Art and Cinematography. He then directs a series of short films mixing music and experimental art, convinced before his time of the great future of music videos. Following his idea, he is awarded the first prize of Art Center for his short “Portrait 1982”, which defends the place of women in the art world. He also directs a series of short films including “Animas” and “The Kimono”, and shows his work to the director of photography's team on Oliver Stone’s film “The Doors”, then in search of visual inspiration. In 1983, Stellest puts together a team in order to take part in the “Equinox” project of the Olympic Cultural Program of the city of Los Angeles, with the collaboration of scientist Claude Michaux, who coordinated NASA’s Voyager program in Pasadena.

In 1984, Stellest moves to Paris with his life partner, Marie-Hélène. Together, they take over the studio of Pop artists Claus Oldenburg and James Rosenquist. The couple is expecting a happy event, when following the steps of Max Ernst, they leave Paris for the Touraine region where Stellest learns alone the techniques of welding metal. In 1998, attracted to the South of France, Stellest moves to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence where he enters a very busy time of his life. In 1992, he illustrates the book Grosse Beruhigte Körper edited by Druckhaus Galrev, that owed the German poet Ulrich Zieger the first poetry prize of united Germany. He also spends some time with French painter René Durbach, who will deeply affect his vision of the movement the French poet Guillaume Apollinaire called Orphism. He also paints the emblematic painting of his career as a painter “The Hug”. During the same time, he improves his technique of metal sculpting by becoming the assistant of Greek sculptor Costa Coulentianos, and meets and shares his universe with Cesar, Dora Maar, Leo Castelli, Harald Szeemann or M. Tate ; who all encourage him to express his new ideas and concepts.

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