George Daoud Corm was a distinguished painter and francophone poet and writer. In both his artwork and writings, Corm expressed a dedication to the classical tradition of European humanism and Christian ethics.
The son of painter Daoud Corm, Georges D. Corm was born into an artistic family and expressed an equal interest in painting and writing. Although he published his first poem in 1915, Corm eventually chose to train as a professional visual artist, attending the École Nationale Superieure des Beaux-Arts in Paris from 1919 to 1921. Upon his return to Beirut, Corm received immediate recognition for his paintings, having been honored with the Gold Medal at the 1921 Beirut Exhibition Fair. A year later, he won a competition for his proposal for the Lebanese Medal of Merit.
Devoted to Lebanon and its cultural enrichment as a nascent nation, Corm worked diligently to promote the arts. He served as a founding member of the committee for the Museum of Antiquities (1922 - 1928), jury member for both the Lebanese National Conservatory of Music and Committee for the Lebanese National Anthem, and as secretary for the 1926 International Archeological Congress in Beirut.
In 1929, with his marriage to Marie Bekhyt, Corm left Beirut to live for a period of time in Egypt, first in Alexandria and later Cairo. Active in the Egyptian art scene, Corm helped establish in 1934 the "Atelier," a collective dedicated to the promotion of arts and letters.
Corm and Marie returned in 1956 to Beirut, by which time recognition of his artistic accomplishment was both local and international. Corm had become an officer of the Academy of France in 1936 and was elected as an Honorary Member of the Royal Society of Arts in London in 1955. He became an Officer of the Lebanese National Order of the Cedar in 1958 and received numerous awards and honors throughout his lifetime.
Corm's paintings, predominantly oil on canvas and pastel on paper, document the importance of portraiture in Lebanon throughout the first half of the twentieth century, a market which his father painter Daoud Corm had worked to establish. The subjects of George Corm's portraits range from royalty and figures in high society, who commissioned his work, to everyday people, including several fellaheen, or peasants. He also completed a significant number of self-portraits, the most interesting of which capture Corm in his position as a painter and document an increasing awareness of the social status of the artist in twentieth century Lebanon.
In many ways, Corm's academic style recalls the work of his father, particularly in those pieces in which the artist sets the figure against a simple, darkly shaded background. However, Corm's formal language also moves away from the conventions of the previous generation as witnessed in his use of a lighter palette and looser brushwork. Such aesthetic shifts are most evident in Corm's still life and landscapes. Moreover, Corm's oeuvre includes a substantial number of nudes, a staple of European academic painting and a genre favored by this generation of Lebanese artists, including Corm's great contemporary, the painter César Gemayel (1898 - 1958). Corm's most distinctive work is in the genre of landscape. In addition to a series of more conventional landscapes of Lebanon's mountain ranges and coastline, Corm began during the early fifties to experiment with landscapes infused with spirituality, otherworldliness, and hidden symbolism.
Throughout his career as a painter, Corm continued to write and publish poetry, essays, and criticism. In 1966, he published his most well-known piece, Essai sur l'art et la civilization de ce temps, in which Corm articulates an aesthetic position in the midst of a radically divided cold war culture. Critical of both American consumerism and Marxist Communism, Corm advocates a return to a classical European tradition of Humanism, rooted in Christian ethics. Corm's deep commitment to humanism and Christianity is evident in his paintings, which consistently feature the human figure as well as what critics have termed, "paysages d'âme," or spiritual landscapes.
Corm exhibited extensively in Beirut and Europe, and participated in the 1966 Spring Salon in Paris. He died in Beirut on December 13, 1971. He was honored with a retrospective of his work in 1981 at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry in Beirut and in 2013 with the exhibition, "Lebanese Painterly Humanism: Georges D. Corm," at the American University of Beirut Art Gallery.
|2013 ||"Lebanese Painterly Humanism: Georges D. Corm," American University of Beirut Art Gallery, Lebanon|
|1981||Retrospective, Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Beirut, Lebanon|
|1967||Galerie du Journal de L'Orient, Beirut, Lebanon|
|1966||Salon d'Automne, Paris, France|
|1964||Phoenicia Hotel, Beirut, Lebanon|
|1958 ||Gallery XIV, Beirut, Lebanon|
|1921||Beirut Exhibition Fair, Lebanon|
Awards and Honors
|1958 ||Officer, Lebanese National Order of the Cedar|
|1955 ||Honorary Member, Royal Society of Arts, London|
|1937||Medal of Honor of Lebanese Merit|
|1936||Officer, Academie de France|
|1922||Winner, concept for Lebanese Medal of Merit|
|1921||Gold Medal, Beirut Exhibition Fair|
Lebanese Modernism, humanism, spirituality, Christianity, portraiture, still life, Atelier, landscapes.
Fani, Michel. "Corm, Georges," Dictionnaire de la Peinture au Liban (Paris: Editions de L'Escalier), 81-83.
Octavian Esanu, Curatorial Statement for "Lebanese Painterly Humanism: Georges D. Corm." Accessed January 8, 2014.
"George Corm," in Lebanon-The Artist's View, 200 Years of Lebanese Painting (London: British Lebanese Association, 1989), 105-106.
"George Corm." Accessed January 2, 2014.
"Profiles: Collecting in Lebanon—Georges Corm." Accessed January 2, 2014. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CZ4LmiXtfw4.
Corm, Georges D. Essai sur l'art et la civilization de ce temps. Beirut, 1966.
Corm, Georges G. ed. Georges Daoud Corm, Peintre et Portraitiste Libanais, 1893-1971. Beirut, 1981.
Chahine, Richard. One Hundred Years of Plastic Arts in Lebanon, 1880-1980, vols. I&II. (Beirut: Chahine Gallery, 1980), 7.
Naef, Silvia. A la recherche d'une modernité arabe: l'évolution des arts plastiques en Egypte, au Liban et en Irak. Genève: Slatkine, 1996.