Alexandre Gregoire was a Haitian painter, born in Jacmel on August 29, 1922, who rose to fame as one of the best artists of the first generation of so-called ‘naive’ artists. Although he spent most of his adult life in the army and played in the palace band under President Magloire, his true passion was painting, which he only discovered later in life.
Gregoire’s education began with the Christian Teaching Brothers in 1930-1937, and he later studied cabinet making for two years at the Jacmel vocational school. In 1939, he joined the army where he played the tuba and saxophone in the army band. After leaving the army, he played in the band at the National Palace during the presidency of Paul Magloire in the 1950s.
It was not until 1968 that his interest turned from music to painting, thanks to the encouragement of his friends, the painters Préfete Duffaut and Pierre-Joseph Valcin, and with support from the Centre d’Art in Port-au-Prince. Gregoire soon developed a unique style, using oil on canvas to create humourous and playful representations of both historical scenes and everyday life. He once said in an interview that his life was a prayer, and painting was a sister to prayer.
Throughout his career, Gregoire’s works were featured in exhibitions and permanent collections worldwide. His paintings are included in the permanent collections of the Musée d’Art Haitien in Port-au-Prince, the Waterloo Museum of Art in Iowa, and the Milwaukee Art Center. In 1997, his paintings were featured in Island on Fire, an exhibition of Haitian art collection of Hollywood film producer, Jonathan Demme, at the Equitable Gallery, New York.
Alexandre Gregoire passed away on July 28, 2001, in his hometown of Jacmel, leaving behind a legacy of artistic talent and a unique perspective on life in Haiti. Despite not turning to painting until later in life, Gregoire’s works continue to command high prices in galleries around the world, cementing his place as one of the most accomplished Haitian painters of the 20th century.