ATLAN, JEAN (1913–1960), French painter, one of France's leading abstract artists after World War ii. Atlan, who was born in Constantine, Algeria, went to Paris in 1930 to study philosophy and remained a student there until the Nazi occupation. He took up painting after he was forced to hide from the Germans in a psychiatric hospital. Atlan believed that a painting should present a concept different from that of the external world, but equally organic and alive. Critics have detected various elements in his work forms, which are half vegetable and half animal, the influence of Afro-American sculpture, the art of pre-Columbian America, and the non-figurative art of North Africa. He was fascinated by the primitive, the magical, and the erotic and was considered the most "mystical" among modern French abstract painters. His style developed gradually, reaching its fullest expression in the last five years of his life.
B. Dorival, Atlan (Fr., 1963); A. Verdet, Atlan (Fr., 1957); M. Ragon, Atlan (Fr., 1962); Paris Musée National d'Art Moderne, Exposition Jean Atlan (1963) – catalogue.