Maurice Esteve was born in the Cher (Culan) in 1904, and died there at the age of 97 years. He spent most of his childhood in this village with his grandparents. He develops a passion for art as a very young boy ; once’said that he drew all day long when he was barely 8 years old. He is 10 when he discovers Paris, The Louvre, Delacroix, Corot and Courbet. He is 11 years old when he starts to paint. His vocation is born.
His father is hostile, his mother encourages him, and Maurice Estève - he is only 19 years old - leaves Paris for Spain where he will stay one year, as the artistic director of a shawl design workshop.
Back in France, he devoted himself to painting while living "odd jobs" and installed, in 1930, his first real workshop. The same year, a first solo-exhibition will have no success. Estève will have to wait almost 20 years to expose again.
Self-taught painter, immersed for a time in the influence of the Paris of the Surrealists (1927-29), admirer of Braque, devoting a real passion to Cézanne (he will paint in 1942 a "Tribute" to this painter), the artist will hesitate for a long time between figurative art and abstract art. Under the influence of a Matisse, Bonnard, or Jacques Villon, Maurice Estève quickly found his palette. He will choose the abstract - while always refuting this name for his art -, vibrating the balanced shapes with bursting colors.
He gets the consecration in 1987, by the creation of a museum created in the Hotel des Échevins (Bourges), to which he had donated 125 of his works two years earlier. Considered by many to be one of the greatest painters of our time, Estève is an admirable draftsman and watercolourist, an engraver, an exceptional lithographer (His first work will be done in 1955 at Mourlot); the collage will also constitute creations in their own right.
Both in France and abroad, the places where Estève exhibited, collective or personal exhibitions, are innumerable; his first retrospective was organized in 1948 at the Galerie Louis Carré (Paris), a gallery that still exhibited it in 1998! This year, the Claude Bernard Gallery in Paris devoted a splendid exhibition to him.