His mother

1935 - Birth

Guy-Rachel Grataloup was born in Nantua (France). His mother, Adèle Joséphine Grataloup (born Durochat), declared without profession on the Birth Certificate, works in Nantua as a dress maker. His father, Jean Alfred Marie Grataloup, works at this time as a typographer.

His father

Grataloup is three years old when the war is declared. His family lives in Nantua where his father, Jean has bought, several years before, a printing workshop where the reams of paper and coloured scraps that have fallen from the guillotine amaze the young boy. In Nantua, the house faces the black fir mountains, not far from the romantic site of the Sillans Lake. This mountain fascinates him and will be an eternal source of inspiration in his work, through many future series.

Strange name as that of Rachel ! His father has declared it under this unusual name for a male child (statement of June 5, 1935 at 9 o'clock to the civil status officer of Nantua). Did he regret not having had a girl instead of a boy ? He will call him "Rachel" until his death, while his mother will call him "Guy". It is only in 1956, when Rachel is mobilized in Germany where he performs sets of theater for the army for the NATO Staff, that he decides to adopt the first name of Rachel as  his official first name and Artist first name.

Early Childhood in Nantua

1939 - 1944 - The years of war

During the mobilization, in 1939 and 1940, the family temporarily lives in Dijon, where Jean Grataloup is affected. From this stay, Rachel will keeps the memory of the station and railways bombing by the English air force. The incendiary bombs and their geysers of fire will especially strike the child's imagination. Later, there will be in his painting the transposed memory of these "expressive lights".

His beloved grandmother in Argis

While the drama and the war close in on France, Europe then the entire planet, Rachel, like many other young French children at that time, live in the countryside in Bugey at her grandmother's. He  attends primary school in Argis where his maternal grand-mother lives.  He learns there to work in the fields. He will always describe these years with her grandmother as the "happiest ones in his life" and will always keep this beloved grandmother in his heart.

Narce Rock

In Argis, Rachel often gazes at the “Roche de Narce”, an impressive cliff, which we will inspire many of his future works. 

1945 - 1950 - School Years

In Lyon, on the Saône banks

The family returns to Lyon and settles at the Croix Rousse (4 rue de Crimée). In the workshop of his mother, who still works as a dress maker, the chalk drawings on the fabrics fascinate Rachel. His father Jean is then typographer in the daily newspaper "Le Progrès".

4, rue de Crimée, Lyon Croix-Rousse

After the unfortunate exchange - against a radio and a bike - of a beautiful building donated by Jean's parents, located rue Mercière in Lyon where the family stayed briefly, Jean Grataloup, his wife and Rachel are accommodated at the 70 boulevard des Brotteaux, in a large apartment belonging to the paternal grandparents. Rachel and his mother are very happy. This beautiful apartment is located in one of the most beautiful areas of Lyon.

70, boulevard des Brotteaux, Lyon

He attends college then high school. He is a very good pupil. Studying is not a problem for him. He creates "Manuscript the Journal des J3", with, for President, the mayor of Lyon, Edouard Herriot.

1950 - 1953 - Dark Years

Rachel and Madeleine

For lack of money and spirit of revolt against his environment, his father decides -again- to exchange the rent of the apartment he occupies boulevard des Brotteaux against a small apartment at 4, rue Etienne Richerand, in the third arrondissement of Lyon, this to the despair of his mother and Jean's family. 

This period is very difficult for the young Grataloup. The apartment adjoins a foundry. Exiguous and noisy because of this neighborhood that prevents its occupants from sleeping at night, it is quite eccentric, in a working class neighborhood. For the young man, between his father and his mother, life is difficult. The couple does not get along very well and Rachel is often caught in violent quarrels.

On October 5, 1950, his beloved grandmother dies of cancer, plunging the young man into a great sadness.

Finally a joy in these difficult years ; at the age of seventeen, during a student meeting, he meets a young girl, Madeleine Lambert, with whom he becomes engaged two years later. Madeleine is also interested in painting and they both have many interests in commun.

Last picture of his father

The year 1953 is terrible for Rachel and his mother. His father brutally dies. He was 42 years old. Rachel is 17 years old. His mother earns very little money and the young man has to stop studying to go to work.

His first canvas - Roofs of Milena's grandfather velvet factory

He enrolls in evening classes in an annex of the Beaux-Arts school at Saint-Jean College in Lyon. He rents an old grocery store called "l'Economique" which he makes his first studio. It is during this period that he will make his first canvas representing the roofs of a velvet factory that he sees from his window from the apartment of the rue Etienne Richerand, a factory that will be revealed, many years later,  belonging to the paternal grandfather of Milena, his wife today. Hazard ?

1953 - 1955 - Years of toil

To earn some money and help his mother survive, he works at the newspaper "Le Progrès" where his father was a typographer, then at the Hospices Civils de Lyon, the Rhone General Treasury, the Perception of Villeurbanne and finally as a perspectivist for an architect.

With his BSA moto

In 1955, he realizes one of his dreams and buys a British BSA motorcycle. In the company of Madeleine Lambert, his fiancée, he travels the roads of France, Switzerland and Italy. From these travels, synonymous with joy and freedom, he will always keep an emotional memory.

1956 - 1959 - Pivotal years


From 1956 to 1958, he carries out his military service as an officer for the NATO forces in Germany. 

Sets for the Officer's mess

He creates sets for the officers' mess. He is then very influenced by Picasso and the surrealists. It is on this occasion that he signs the sets of his first name Rachel, name that he will definitely adopt from this date as his usual artiste first name.

He often visits the galleries and museums in Berlin that are starting to exhibit avant-garde pieces and, more notably, canvases by Pierre Soulages.

Evening courses

In 1958, back to France, he participates in a group exhibition with a Students Association in Lyon, organized by Alain Crombecque (future Director of the Avignon Festival and of the Autumn Festival in Paris), where pieces of Hugetto and Christo are shown.He attends lessons with Burlet, a pupil of Gleizes, a member of the “Témoignage” group. It is there that he meets a young girl, Claude Long, who poses as a model and that he will marry in 1961.

1959 - 1963 - Cachan (Paris)

Zwobada in his studio in 1964

Tired of small trades, Rachel decides to resume his studies and prepare the entrance examination at the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Cachan to which it will be received in 1960, one year later, after a single year of preparation. He leaves Lyon for Cachan where he will remain as a student until 1963.

He meets Jacques Zwobada, a sculptor and professor at the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts who will be very supportive of Rachel, mainly during his studies at the Beaux-Arts. Rachel considers him as "his master" for drawing. It is the one who will encourage him to pass his "Prix de Rome" in 1967, when he graduates from the "Ecole Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts".

Wedding day

On September 30, 1961, he marries Claude Long, met in 1958, who continues her studies at "La Martinière" in Lyon in order to also integrate the ENS. The marriage will be short-lived. The divorce will be pronounced two years later, in 1963.

After graduating from the ENS in 1963, Grataloup is appointed professor of drawing and applied arts at the "Lycée Technique de la Salle" in Saint-Germain en Laye.

1962 - Agneta

Wedding day

In 1962, rue de Seine, at the café opposite that of "La Palette", Rachel meets a young Swedish woman, Agneta Olu Munther. She is on a study trip to Paris. She speaks several languages and does translations. He will marry her on 21 October 1966 at the French Embassy in Malmö (Sweden).

1963 - 1965 - "Beaux-Arts" in Paris

Rachel and Agneta move into one of the maids rooms of a large apartment belonging to the "Menthon family", located at 50, rue Jacob, Paris Saint-Germain des Prés. The room overlooks the lodges of the "Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts"  where Rachel has just entered, in the workshop of Roger Chapelain Midy.

Beaux-Arts School Student Card

In 1964, he organizes his first paintings exhibition at the mayor of Roussillon where he goes on holidays whith the Menthon family. Mrs de Menthon, who owns a jaguar, has a hard time making her way through the narrow streets of the small town... He is very impressed by the ocher quarries of various colors. Influenced by these colors, he creates oil landscapes very characteristic of his painting at that time.

Wishing to discover other forms of painting, he changes his studio at the "Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts" and joins Raymond Legueult's  and then Roger Chastel's studios.

Chastel was very contemporary in his pedagogical approach. He spoke of American painters; Rothko, Pollock, Klein, Rauschenberg ... Chastel was very fond of Grataloup's work. At that time, the painting changed problems. There were all the events that followed in 1968 and this problematic of art was based on a somewhat artisanal search for creation. For example, in the Chastel class, there was Rouan who began his weaving, Daniel Buren who proposed to have a protest painting with white and black stripes ... 

With his painter friends, Viallat, Buraglio, Poli, Rouen, Kermarrec, Ristori they apply to a craft and dreamlike search for creation. With Rouen, Viallat, Buraglio, Ristori, he participates in the creation of the "Supports Surfaces movement".

With Antoine Tisne in Spain

1966 - 1967 - Casa Velasquez

In 1966, Grataloup is Laureate of the Institut de France for Casa Velasquez in Madrid. He leaves France for Madrid where he will stay for two years with Agneta. These years will be decisive for the painter. It is in Spain that he will create a new form of painting, in total rupture with that taught by the teachers of Fine Arts who only recognized the so-called "classical" form of painting.

Eve and the Snake - 1966

With his friend Antoine Tisné, they discover the wonders of Prado and Escurial, they travel around Castile and Andalusia. He meets painters Millares, Villalba, Pablo Serrano and composers Joaquin Rodrigo and Luis de Pablo. Grataloup's work is highly influenced by Spanish landscapes and gives birth to paintings such as "Eve and the snake" or "The Temptation of Eve"...

Museo del Arte Contemporaneo Madrid

Several exhibitions on the work of Grataloup are organized in Madrid during these two years, at the "Biblioteca nacional" (1966) and at the Museo del Arte Contemporaneo (1967). They receive a very good reception and are the occasion of many acquisitions.

Ströget Gallery Exhibition - Malmö

During these two years at Casa de Velasquez, Rachel regularly travels to Sweden with Agneta where exhibitions are organized on his recent work.

In 1966 a solo exhibition is organized in Malmö (Sweden) at the Ströget Gallery. He presents a series of works made at the Casa de Velasquez on the theme of "Eve and Hell". Almost all the work done at Casa de Velasquez is sold and will remain in Sweden. In France, there today remains very few art pieces of this period.


With the chromatic and spatial volume

During these years, he produces large chromatic and spatial volumes in relation to the Scandinavian expressionism he has perceived through his travels in Sweden. His idea is to signify an expressionism by volume, material and color.

1967 - "Prix de Rome" contest

"Revolt of the dark forces" 1967

In 1967, at the "Cité Internationale des Arts", Grataloup decides to pass the "Prix de Rome" of Painting that he will obtain in June of the same year. This year will mark the last opus of the "Prix de Rome" as organized since always.

1968 - Exhibition at "American Center for Students & Artists"

Large chromatic volumes


His studio in Paris

In 1969, during an exhibition at the "Salon de Mai" in Paris, he meets Marie-Thérèse Pinto, a Chilean sculptor student of Brancusi, friend of the surrealists, who tells him that a workshop is going to be released next to the hers, at 37 rue Henri Barbusse, Paris 5th. 

Grataloup moves there the same year. Thanks to Maria Theresa Pinto, he meets César, Etienne Martin, Leonor Fini. The courtyard is also the meeting place of many artists: Francis Bacon, Michel Leiris ... It is in this mythical workshop that he will produce a very large part of his work. He still occupies it today.


In February 1969, in Montparnasse, at the "Restaurant des Artistes", Rachel meets a young Scottish girl, F..  who has just returned from a trip to South Africa. He separates from Agneta and leaves with Frances to the Villa Medici in Rome where he is invited by Anne and Patrick Poirier. She will be the mother of his two first sons, in 1971 and 1979.

1970 - Villa Medici- Rome

At Villa Medici - Rome

At that time, the Villa is run by Balthus. Rachel will only stay a few months at the Villa Medici because he is offered a position at the School of Applied Arts in Paris that he accepts.

1974 - Montvinot

Montvinot in 1974

In 1974, Grataloup acquires an old farm in "Montvinot" (Seine et Marne). He builds there two studios (winter and summer ones) that allow him to make large format paintings. The buildings surround a chapel decorated by the artist (stained glass, tapestry, mosaic, paintings).

Exhibitions are organized. His wish is to make this place an artistic phalanstery in the image of Albert Gleizes and Moli-Sabata


With his ENS students in Montvinot

Then teacher at the ENS in Cachan, Grataloup creates with his students, the group "Vision Creation". The idea was to give another dimension to the classic work done during the year by the students. An exhibition of their work was organized each year in the main hall of the ENS.

The house of Montvinot will become a place of artistic expression at the disposal of the group. Every year, on June 21, and for three days, on the occasion of the great summer solstice festivities, great fires of Saint John were lit up around choreographies and the icosahedron of Rudolph Laban.


Day and Night

In May 1987, the magazine "Eighty" devoted to the art of the 80s, asks 30 newspapers from 16 European countries to have their readers nominate their 80 favorite artists. Grataloup is part of the French selection with 4 paintings including "De jour Comme de Nuit". The resulting exhibition under the title "Painter of Europe today", is organized in Strasbourg. It then goes on tour all over Europe.

1988 - "The adventure of art in the twentieth century"

Jean-Louis Ferrier, writer, philosopher, art critic, publishes the reference book of XXth century art "The Adventure of Art in the 20th Century". Grataloup's work is analyzed through the author's text. An exhibition is organized at the Lavignes-Bastille Gallery (Paris) to accompany the book's release.


In 1989, he moves to a new house/studio designed by his friend, the architect Denis Sloan. For the artist, this house is a kind of metaphorical transposition of certain themes used in his work. 

Through the many glazed openings, we can find the rays of light, so present in his work. Today Grataloup works almost exclusively in this workshop where he can realize his large formats.

1989- MILENA


He meets a young woman, Mireille Cheynet de Beaupre, whom he will always call "Milena" in reference to the Slavic origins of her family. He will marry her in 1991.



In 1994, he produced a series of paintings celebrating the birth of his son, Constant. It was at this time that the human figure began the feature in his work. 

The same year, Jean-Louis Ferrier dedicates an important analysis of the work of Grataloup "The search for the worlds implied" Ramsay editions. This is the first monograph on the painter's work.


Started in June 2017 and edited in December of the same year, "Grataloup Light Color" tells about the life and artwork of the artist through Milena'eyes who has been accompanying for more than thirty years.


On March 2019, Grataloup is awarded the insignia of Chevalier of the "Ordre des Arts & Lettres" by French Minister of Culture, Franck Riester, for his contribution to the expansion of Arts & Lettres in France and in the world.