Yahne LE TOUMELIN: Crypt Sainte

Born in 1923, Yahne Le Toumelin fascinated as much as she was fascinated. His life is made up of great decisive encounters (Pierre Soulages, Maurice Béjart, Kangyour Rinpoché, Henri Cartier Bresson, Zao Wou ki…).

The Biarritz retrospective offers, through some fifty works, a striking panorama of the various periods and techniques of this major artist of the 20th century, a Parisian pedestrian feared by gallery owners and artists.

The exhibition follows a chronological route: his first portraits made in the 1940s, when he learned his technique from André Lhote, and which already show the singular universe of the artist.

At the end of the 1960s, her period of lyrical abstraction – when she discovered India and Buddhism – revealed powerful and generous canvases linked to her artistic research and her spiritual quest.

Press clippings “Le Piéton de Paris” – his pseudonym – name of a weekly column in the New Observer (late 1950, early 1960) reveal another facet, that of an art critic: an uncompromising view of the art market of the time.

The period of the years 1980 – 2010 evokes an abundant period of his life: the light will gradually invade his canvases to overcome the form and become the main subject of his work, in an abundance of colors. A universe that gives power back to the imagination and invites contemplation.

Yahne le Toumelin now lives with her spiritual masters and friends in the Dordogne, where she continues to paint. His last exhibition dates from 2016.

Yahne Le Toumelin, a multifaceted character, is above all a woman painter. She is absent for Tibet the morning of her opening rue de Beaune where all of Paris will admire a new and brilliant figure of Abstraction. She will become a Buddhist nun. His friends Zao Wou-Ki and Soulages feel betrayed. Soulages still keeps him, but very discreetly, his friendship. The big merchants have definitely turned away from her. We do not give a damn about the “market” with impunity. She will continue on her return from the Himalayas to paint with fury and will offer herself these intimate moments of encounter with herself, with the inaccessible… This constant magic of the “thing”, of the other in oneself, of the unexpected, of the truth of her desire, confronts her with this emptiness so common among Buddhists. She will become the most incredible of gestures with a brilliant gift for color. This woman flamed in the fire of passions will be 100 next Yann RENELEAU, son-in-law and right-hand man of the artist.

pdfRoute of the Yahne Le Toumelin Biarritz 2022 exhibition

Yahne Le Toumelin 2016


  • July 27, 1923: Birth of Yahne Le Toumelin in Paris.
  • She grew up in Croisic, Brittany, alongside her brother, Jacques-Yves LE TOUMELIN. At the age of 10, Yahne was introduced to drawing and produced his first oil paintings.
  • 1940 – At 17, Yahne is admitted to the National School of Fine Arts in Paris, she prefers to join the Académie de la Grande Chaumière.
  • 1943 – After three years of study spent at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, Yahne joined André LHOTE’s studio where she met Henri CARTIER-BRESSON.
  • [1945-YahnemeetsJean-FrançoisRICARD(betterknownasJean-FrançoisRevel)duringaradioprograminwhichshepresentsartisticworksattheStudiod’essaioftheRTFShewillmarryhimthesummerofthesameyearinParis
  • 1946 – Birth of Matthieu RICARD.
  • 1947 – Alongside Jean-Paul SARTRE, Simone de BEAUVOIR, Boris VIAN, Orson WELLES, Jean COCTEAU and Juliette GRECO, Yahne LE TOUMELIN appears in the film Disorder at twenty by Jacques BARATIER who paints a picture of the heterogeneous fauna of Saint-Germain-des-Prés in the aftermath of the war.
  • 1947-1948 – The couple moved to Algeria where Jean-François RICARD was appointed professor in Tlemcen.
  • August 1948 – Birth of Eve RICARD.
  • 1950-1952 – Installation in Mexico where Jean-François RICARD is appointed professor at the French Institute of Latin America (IFAL). In Mexico, Yahne befriends Leonora CARRINGTON who will become “his lifelong accomplice (…) and will also follow an absolutely offbeat career”.
  • In 1951, Yahne LE TOUMELIN produced a monumental geometric fresco for IFAL and painted film posters for the film club of the French Institute where Benjamin PERET, Luis BUÑUEL, Frida KHALO, Diego RIVERA and Mario VARGAS LLOSA came.
  • In 1952, Appointed to the French Institute in Florence, Jean-François RICARD took the name of REVEL. In Italy, Yahne meets Jacob BEAN and André FERMIGIER. This year will also mark his separation from Jean-François REVEL.
  • 1953-1955 – Yahne settles in Valmondois where Louis ALTHUSSER, Pierre NORA, Françoise CACHIN, André BRETON, Jacob BEAN and Henri MICHAUX will stay.
  • 1955 – Yahne LE TOUMELIN will be invited by André BRETON to exhibit in his gallery located in Paris, at thesealed star.
  • 1956 – Back in Paris, Yahne LE TOUMELIN befriends Pierre SOULAGES, Zao WOUKI and Pierrette BLOCH with whom she will share workshops and friendships.
  • 1957 – Yahne LE TOUMELIN exhibits more than 100 paintings at the Galerie d’Orsay and participates in the edition of the catalog prefaced by André BRETON.
  • From 1957 to 1959, Yahne LE TOUMELIN exhibited at the Salon Comparaison at the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris and, in 1958, at the Salon Grand et Jeunes d’Aujourd’hui at the Grand Palais. Installed at the Château de Fromonville, Yahne met several personalities including Jean COCTEAU, Savitri NAIR, Philippe LAVASTINE, George ADIE and Arnaud DESJARDINS.
  • 1959 – Yahne LE TOUMELIN joins the René DROUIN Gallery.
  • In 1961, Yahne LE TOUMELIN exhibited in a selection presented by René DROUIN and Ileana SONNABEND at the Marcelle Dupuis Gallery and entitled Essay for the painting of tomorrow.
  • From 1961 to 1967, Yahne LE TOUMELIN appeared at the Salon des Surindépendants of the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris.
  • From 1963 to 1965, Yahne LE TOUMELIN was invited to exhibit at the Salon de Mai of the Museum of Modern Art of the City of Paris by Pierre ALECHINSKY.
  • April 1963 – Pierre SOULAGES encourages the artist to “paint on a large scale” and invites him to exhibit at the Galerie de France.
  • 1965 – André BRETON publishes Surrealism and PaintingGallimard in which he highlights the uniqueness of the work of Yahne Le Toumelin.
  • 1966 – She exhibits at the Rencontres d’Octobre at the Nantes Museum of Fine Arts and participates in the Salon des Artistes Français in 1967 as well as in the Salon d’Art Sacré in 1966 and 1969 1967 – Yahne LE TOUMELIN opens the Center d’Expression , a gallery located rue de Bourgogne in Paris, and presented by André FERMIGIER in a review entitled Three reasons for .
  • November 1967 – Yahne leaves for India where she converts to Buddhism and takes the vows of none.
  • May 68 – Yahne LE TOUMELIN organizes a demonstration in Paris entitled The Revolution of the Heart.
  • 1969 – Yahne LE TOUMELIN composes a 300 m² fresco for Maurice BEJART and the costumes of the Winners. Based in Darjeeling, India, Yahne stopped painting from 1969 to 1975.
  • 1979 – FIAC – One Woman Show
  • 1985 – Yahne settles in the Dordogne where she goes into retirement and stops painting for a period of 3 years, 3 months and 3 days.
  • 1989 – Yahne LE TOUMELIN paints the Veil of the Raft of the Medusa for the sets Tribute to the Revolution by Maurice BEJART at the Grand Palais.
  • 1999 – Exhibition at the Linden Museum, Stuttgart
  • Since 2000, Yahne LE TOUMELIN has been painting in his studio located in the Dordogne January 2016 – Yahne Le TOUMELIN retrospective, Espace Mably, Bordeaux
  • October 2016 – Book release Yahne Le Toumelin, LIGHT Laughter from Heaven Editions de la Martinière, text by Mathieu RICARD.

Yahne Le Toumelin 1993

Yahne LE TOUMELIN: Crypt Sainte-Eugénie exhibition in Biarritz