Antoine Tzapoff

Antoine Tzapoff, born in Paris on May 14, 1945, is a talented French artist known for his collaboration with Hermès as a scarf designer. He is the creative mind behind such designs as Le regard de l’arctique, Cosmogonie apache, and Apparat des plaines. The son of a Russian immigrant father and a French mother, Tzapoff developed a fascination with Native American cultures during his childhood as a form of escape from his modest upbringing.

Tzapoff pursued his passion for art by studying at the École des Arts Appliqués for three years before joining Victor Vasarely’s workshop in 1964, where he worked for 12 years. Following the death of his father, he decided to focus on painting Native Americans, depicting them in a way that was both anthropologically accurate and idealized.

Throughout his career, Tzapoff has traveled extensively in North America, visiting indigenous communities in Alaska, Canada, the Great Plains, and the Southwestern United States. His extensive research, historical and ethnographic readings, and the study of ancient artifacts in museums and his personal collection have given him a deep understanding of these cultures.

His work caught the attention of Larry Frank, a prominent American dealer-collector from New Mexico, who organized Tzapoff’s first exhibition in Santa Fe in 1977. The artist subsequently exhibited his work in Paris in 1978, where writer Yves Berger praised him as the “new George Catlin,” comparing Tzapoff to the famous 19th-century American painter known for his depictions of Native Americans.

Tzapoff’s exhibitions have taken place in Santa Fe, New York, Paris, Spain, and Mexico, where he enjoyed particular success. With the support of actress María Félix, a Latin American cinema star, he organized exhibitions paying tribute to indigenous peoples. His 1990 exhibition at the Palace of Minerals in Mexico City attracted a record-breaking 130,000 visitors and helped generate renewed interest in the tribes he portrayed, such as the Huichol, Tarahumaras, and Kickapous.

Continuing his artistic career in France, Tzapoff has collaborated with museums, and his expertise in material culture, art, and Native American traditions is recognized in exhibitions dedicated to these peoples. He has loaned paintings and ancient artifacts from his personal collection to various exhibitions, including those at the Palais des Arts in Dinard and the Musée du Nouveau Monde in La Rochelle.

In 2021, the exhibition “Peindre les Indiens” in Barbizon showcased the artistic kinship between Antoine Tzapoff, Karl Bodmer, and Rosa Bonheur, highlighting their shared interest in Native American cultures.

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