If Jacques Flechemuller gets as much pleasure from his work as the viewer does, then he is a happy man, and he certainly seems like somebody who enjoys his life. Having worked as chef, magician and gag-writer, while honing his craft as a painter, he is now a full-time internationally-exhibited artist with homes in Brooklyn and France.

When Flechemuller was a boy in the 1950s, the monthly calendars handed out at his local post office provided his first conception of art. Later in life, having established himself as an accomplished painter with a rich and varied body of work, he returned to these images, which he had kept, and expanded upon them in his own special way.

In Flechemuller’s hands, idyllic scenes of courtship and domestic bliss are transformed into something wickedly funny. Strangely dressed men often seem on the verge of interfering with compliant, scantily-clad women: An angry pig-faced man in lederhosen lunges at a bearded woman in front of a nocturnal seascape; a blonde tennis-playing couple offer hideous sideways grins; a ski instructor fondles a bare-breasted woman in the snow.

These wildly inventive dismantlings of standard romantic scenes, replete with sartorial and stylistic incongruities, are matched by a painterly expertise and exuberance in which delicacy and crudity often blend within a single tiny painting. The crease in a pair of pants or sunlight slanting against a wall is rendered with exquisite subtlety while facial features often seem like savagely scrawled afterthoughts, with slapped-on gobs of paint deliberately belying the artist’s craftsmanship and erudition.

In an atypically large painting (72” x 63”): a simple portrait of the chiaroscuro master Georges de la Tour straining his eyes to read a letter that informs him that he has been replaced in Flechemuller’s artistic affections by early Renaissance painter, Paolo Uccello. It reads simply: “Dear Georges. I don’t like you anymore, I prefer Paolo.”

Whitney Museum, New York, NY
Portland Museum of Art, Portland, Oregon
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
Museum of Worpswede, Breme, Germany
Musee d’Art Hors les Norms, Dicy, France
Musee de Creation Rurale, Chalon, France
Musee de la Poste, Paris, France
FNAC, Musee d’art Moderne, Paris, France
Janco Dada Museum, Hof-Hacarmel, Israel
Harvard Law School Museum, Cambridge, MA
Schwartz Art Collection, Harvard Business School, Cambridge, MA
Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, North CarolinaSave