Biography of Jean Cocteau

The great experimenter was born in a wealthy bourgeois family. His father, a lawyer and an amateur artist, committed suicide when he was nine years old.

Born: July 5, 1889
Maisons-Laffitte (near Paris), France
Artist, Author, Actor, Director, Poet, Playwright

This tragic event deeply influenced the formation of the future writer. Subsequently, the theme of death, which he called “his beloved,” will be for him one of the leading.

Jean Cocteau

Cocteau started writing poetry from 1906 and debuted as a poet: “Lamp Aladin”, (1908), “Frivolous Prince” (1910), “Dance of Sophocles” (1912).

Poetry he considered the basis of any art and throughout his life published collections: “Poems” (1920), “Dictionary” (1922), “Opera” (1927) “Allegory” (1941), “Leon” (1945), “The Crucifixion “(1946),” The Greek rhythm “(1951). A year before his death Cocteau published a poem “Requiem” (1962), in which all the main motives of his work were gathered together.


Brought up with love for classical art, he began to reconsider his views after acquaintance with Marcel Proust and Sergei Diaghilev, who attracted him to cooperate with the “Russian Ballet”. Cocteau writes a libretto for this troupe, as well as for several independent theaters.

In 1913 he discovered the music of Igor Stravinsky and established friendly relations with the composer, to whom he devoted the book “Le Potomak” (1919).

Biography of Jean Cocteau

Stage activities Cocteau contributed to the emergence of a new type of performance, which denied traditions and reflected the mood of the “lost generation.” The most famous and at the same time scandalous was the avant-garde ballet “Parade” (1917) to the music of Eric Sati, with the decorations of Pablo Picasso: in the view, which included elements of acrobatics and sport, the Cubist principles of design were used. On the playbill for this performance for the first time appeared the concept of “surreal” invented by Guillaume Apollinaire.

Soon Cocteau becomes the ideologist of the “Six” – a group of French composers, innovators, who wrote music for his ballets, the first of which was the grotesque “Wedding at the Eiffel Tower” protesting against the outdated flavors (1921).

But already in 1926 the writer publishes a collection of literary-critical essays called “Call for Order,” which testify to the disappointment in the principles of avant-garde art, which themselves have become a kind of dogma.

Later years

A new and extremely fruitful field of activity he found in the cinema, having taken his first film “The Blood of the Poet” in 1930, laying the foundation of his personal mythology.

In the same year, after staying at the narcological clinic, he published an essay “Opium” with his own illustrations, made in an expressionistic manner.

Popular poems by Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau’s Poem For Welles
Soft Caramel
Sobre Las Olas (On The Waves)
L’Ange Heurtebise (Translated In English)
Preamble (A Rough Draft For An Ars Poetica)

biography Jean Cocteau

Jean Cocteau death: October 11, 1963; Milly-la-Forêt (near Paris), France