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For half a century, French mediumistic artist Henriette Zéphir devoted herself entirely to her “inner guide”, for who she never stopped creating. Her drawings have us captivated in their singular overall composition, but also in the force of their details. Somewhere between pointillism, geometric abstraction and Fauvism, her work reflects an enlightened modernism. Discovered by Jean Dubuffet, as early as 1967 she was presented at the historical art brut exhibition at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris. Today, her work can be seen among the greatest collections of art brut in the world.

henriette zéphir - © christian berst — art brut
Date 1920 — 2012
Country France

Henriette Zéphir was born near Toulouse in 1920. Her parents working far from her village of birth, she was raised by her grandparents. Although having received a religious education, she is neither pious nor a practicing. Marrying a Martiniquan in 1941, the couple decide to relocate to the French Antilles. However, their journey is stalled in Casablanca, where their first daughter is born. Her husband conscripted, Henriette stays 2 and a half years alone in Morocco. After the war, they finally arrives in Martinique. However, Henriette finds it difficult to adapt, feeling constantly an exile. She parts ways with her husband by 1956 and settles in Nice.

May 1st, 1961 in a revelation, she confronts her “Guide” for the first time. From this moment on, Henriette devotes herself to what she calls “the occult”. The extreme demand of the Guide expresses itself in diverse manners : during sessions of drawing, the pen will settle on a sheet of paper and will remain until the space is completely filled. Other times, the Guide imposes on her sessions in which she must lie prostrate on the ground or kneel for hours, as it dictates messages which she must scrupulously jot down. Henriette considers herself an instrument of these forces of the netherworld world and seems doubtful when one considers the product of her process as mere art. Spotted by Jean Dubuffet himself, this clairvoyant’s meandering creations - a confluence of the organic and the vegetal, where geometry reveals the spiritual - were exhibited as early as 1967 in the first exhibition of art brut opened to the general public at the musée des Arts Décoratifs.

Please contact us to inquire about the available works.
untitled - © christian berst — art brut
untitled, 1966
12.2 x 9.06 in
untitled - © christian berst — art brut
untitled, 2008
7.48 x 11.02 in
Henriette Zéphir a woman under the influence
Henriette Zéphir : a woman under the influence - © christian berst — art brut

Preface : Alain Bouillet
Foreword : Christian Berst
Catalog published to mark the exhibition Henriette Zéphir : a woman under the influence, from february 4th to march 5th, 2011.
Co-published with éditions Le livre d’art, 2010.

brut frequencies: eco-aesthetic manifesto #1
curator: pascal pique. From April 6 to June 4, 2023.
5th art brut biennial :
beliefs, Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne. From December 17, 2021 to May 1, 2022.
Death salon 2
curated by Laurent Quénéhen, the bridge by christian berst. From February 13 to March 19, 2021.
#47, cancelled. From October 21 to 25, 2020.
on the edge of the visible and the invisible, at the gallery. From March 7 to April 13, 2019.
View more
Flying High
Women Artists of Art Brut, Kunstforum, Vienne. From February 15 to June 23, 2019.
drawing now 2018
Carreau du Temple. From March 22 to 25, 2018.
in abstracto
at the gallery. From June 8 to July 15, 2017.
Henriette Zéphir
Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne. From February 3 to April 30, 2017.
at the Gallery. From September 12 to October 10, 2015.
on the horizon
at the gallery. From January 28 to March 1, 2014.
outsider art fair
From February 11 to 13, 2011.
henriette zéphir
a woman under the influence, at the gallery. From February 4 to March 5, 2011.
kunst en antiek initiativen B.V.
From December 4 to 7, 2008.
beyond the boundaries season 2008
discoveries and recent acquisitions, at the gallery. From September 12 to October 11, 2008.
L’Art Brut
curator Jean Dubuffet, Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris. From April 7 to June 5, 1967.
exhibition view of *the beyond : on the edge of the visible and the invisible*, christian berst art brut, paris, 2019. - © christian berst art brut, photo: elena groud, christian berst — art brut
exhibition view of *flying high, künstlerinnen der art brut*, curators: ingried brugger, hannah rieger, veronika rudorfer, kunstforum, vienna, austria, 2019. - © kunstforum, photo: nilo klotz, christian berst — art brut
Exhibition view of *Henriette Zéphir : une femme sous influence*, christian berst art brut, Paris, 2011. - © christian berst art brut, christian berst — art brut
Press review
rêver l’obscur
Bénédicte Philippe, Télérama Sortir. February 23, 2022.
Comment les croyances animent l’Art Brut
Claire Margat, January 17, 2022.
l’art brut au féminin: un hymne à la vie
éric Tariant, Le Temps. April 5, 2019.
in abstracto
Bénédicte Philippe, Télérama Sortir. July 9, 2017.
henriette zéphir est venue avec ses «guides» à l’art brut
Florence Millioud-henriques, 24 Heures. February 2, 2017.
View more
Straight from the Soul : Henriette Zéphir
Alain Bouillet, Raw Vision. June 7, 2011.
NYOAF 2011
Animula Vagula. February 19, 2011.
Mental Images: A View from the Outsider Art Fair
Paul Laster, Flavorwire. February 11, 2011.
Henriette Zéphir à la Galerie Berst
Animula Vagula. February 6, 2011.
Musée national d’art moderne (Pompidou)
collection de l’Art brut
Carmen and Daniel Klein collection
Antoine Frérot collection
abcd / Bruno Decharme collection
View more
Amr Shaker collection
Arnulf Rainer collection
In abstracto BFMtv
Language French
rêver l’obscur, Julie Crenn
Henriette Zephir

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