In the Jura mountain region of France, the Gaugy family have been artists for generations, and Jean-Claude entered this world and this tradition in 1944. At the age of five he began his apprenticeship, doing daily drawings and working in the family foundry. At fourteen he went to Paris, making a living off of portraits in cafes and beginning formal studies at L'Ecole de Beaux Arts, which accepted him on the unusual strength of his work.
An exclusive Paris restaurant hired Gaugy to do portrait busts of their customers, and it was there that Salvador Dali first saw his paintings. Impressed, Dali arranged a one-man show in a Paris gallery. Sell-out shows in Brussels and Germany followed, then a group show at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris. At the show, the Russian government purchased three large paintings that Gaugy had executed after reading the book Reds. He was flown to Moscow for receptions and museum installation of the paintings, and was also invited to return for study at the prestigious School of Sculpture in Moscow. Gaugy accepted the invitation.
Back in Paris, he immersed himself in the city's art world, sharing a studio with Bernard Buffet, meeting Pablo Picasso, and continuing to paint and study. After completing Beaux Arts, Gaugy went on for graduate work to the Academie Julian and Academie du Feu in Paris, School of Design in Rome, School of Woodcarving in Oberammergau, Germany, and School of Sculpture in Moscow. He also served an apprenticeship with British sculptor, Henry Moore.
In 1966 Gaugy came to the United States and settled in Michigan. He began building his American reputation, serving on the Detroit Arts Council and developing his signature medium of wall-hung paintings carved into wood. During this period he did many murals for major religious institutions, up to sixty feet in length, all in wood and full of remarkable power. 1976 brought a move to California, where he continued to refine the images and techniques of his paintings. Gaugy’s work reached the walls of both the public and the corporate worlds through gallery representation. He was commissioned to do work for individuals and major corporations, among them Gallo Wine, Georgia Pacific Corporation, and Bank of America.
Gaugy now splits his time between the east coast and west coast, living in between. He is presently represented in major galleries throughout the United States and Europe. Gaugy believes that artists are communicators and that art serves as their vocabulary. He uses his skill and mastery of line to guide our eyes through his intricate composition, creating his own special ''Linear Expressionist'' style. A Jean-Claude Gaugy carved painting can never be confused with any other artists works, and therefore are sought after by collectors worldwide.