Jasmin Joseph – Haitian Master Artist
Haitian Masters
Producer, Director, Cinematographer - Gail Pellett
Writer, Narrator - Gail Pellett
Production Company: The Brooklyn Museum
Distributed by: Gail Pellett Productions, Inc.
The Seduction of Education, Jasmin Joseph, 1973

This mini-doc  was part of a series of mini-docs of thirteen artists — masters of Haitian painting and sculpture — who were included in the first major exhibit of Haitian Art in the U.S. at The Brooklyn Museum in 1978.  Ute Stebich, the curator of this exhibit of painting, sculpture and papier mache objects, conducted the original interviews that are featured here.   The artist videos were part of a video jukebox featured in the galleries where the work was displayed.  Two other longer video documentaries were screened on monitors in the galleries — an introduction to Haitian Art and Ra-Ra, a Haitian festival.

The artists included in this video juke box were:  Painters:  Philome Obin, Rigaud Benoit, Salnave Philippe -Auguste, Jasmin Joseph, Gerard Valcin, Prefete Duffaut, Andre Pierre, Jacques -Enguerrand Gourgue, Bernard Sejourne, Max Gerbier, Celestin Faustin;  and the sculptors:  Georges Liautaud and Serge Jolimeau.

Jasmin Joseph — like most of the artists featured in this exhibit — came from humble origins.  Joseph used the first money he made from his art to learn to read and write. Joseph began making art through carving terra-cotta sculptures that came to the attention of Jason Seeley, an American sculptor who partnered with Dewitt Peters – a watercolorist — to establish the Centre D’Art in Port-au-Prince.  In th 40’s, 50’s and 60’s Peters nurtured and sold the works of Haiti’s indigenous and largely untrained talent. Joseph’s sculptures — Stations of the Cross – adorned the  famous St Trinity Cathedral in downtown Port-au-Prince where the first generation of naif painters also created gigantic murals for the church walls.

That church and its contents were destroyed in the catastrophic earthquake in January, 2010.   Joseph soon turned to painting himself and in 1978 when this video was made, his work, like the other first  generation of master painters was coming to world recognition.  He explains what he thinks is problematic about the term “primitive” which is often used to describe these indigenous, formally untrained, artists.

Jasmin Joseph, 1977

Jasmin Joseph by Pascale Monnin

 

Breaking News

Jasmin Joseph's famous sculptures of Biblical scenes that adorned Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince were destroyed with the collapse of the church in the catastrophic earthquake of January, 2010. The Centre-D'Art, where Joseph, along with most of the other master artists of Haiti, had nurtured their talents, was also completely destroyed in that earthquake. As was Georges Nader's famous gallery collection. Joseph's paintings, however, are in private collections and museums outside Haiti. The largest collection of Haitian Art in the U.S. is at the Waterloo Center for the Arts in Waterloo, Iowa. Although it has been difficult to confirm, one website stated that Joseph died in 2005.

As a result of Facebook the richly talented Haitian painter, Pascale Monnin, sent along her magnificent portrait of Jasmin Joseph, inspired by a photograph by Marc Lee Steed. Monnin shows her work in her home town, Port-au-Prince, and in galleries around the world.

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6 Responses to “Jasmin Joseph – Haitian Master Artist”

  1. Erika Passantino says:

    A wonderful documentary. I have owned a Haitian painting ever since the early 1970s and it was sold to me as a Jasmin Joseph at the time even though it is signed “P. Joseph” I am trying to authenticvate the work and would appreciate any lead to that effect. I can send a photo by email if needed. Thank you, E. Passantino

  2. Toni Monnin says:

    To E. Passantino: your painting is probably Pierre Joseph, one of the very wonderful naive artists who had a long career in Haiti. Please send the photo of your painting to galeriemonnin@galeriemonnin.com and we will be happy to authenticate it.
    Cordially, Toni Monnin

  3. Harvian Raasch-Hooten says:

    We are fortunate to have several Haitian artworks which we love including one by Jasmin Joseph almost identical to one in “The Master Painters of Haiti” catalogue from the Meadow Brook Art Gallery at Oakland University entitled “Manifestation des Chats a Noel.” I would like to find out if this is from his pre-Christian era and how to determine its value today.

  4. PHYLLIS VAN SLYCK says:

    I too own a wonderful Jasmin Joseph painting entitled “Noa’s Arc” which depicts the island of Haiti as an arc and is populated with small jumping rabbits, a few human figures and simple houses on a green mountainous landscape. My father purchased the painting on a visit to Haiti in the fifties or early sixties, I believe. A few years ago Jonathan Demme, the film director, hosted an exhibit of his large collection of paintings by Joseph in New York City. I’m not interested in selling the painting at this time but would be happy to provide photo if there are organizations interested in knowing where Joseph’s paintings are.

  5. Gail Pellett says:

    Dear Phylis, Thank you for taking time to comment on this site. I am sure that some of the major galleries in P-au-P would appreciate knowing, but also there is a group that have formed to resurrect and re-build The Centre D’arte where Joseph was deeply attached. You can find them on the web. Good luck!

  6. Ed Martinez says:

    About five years ago i purchased a piece of art at all places, a yard sale ,in Palm Springs, Ca. until recently i never paid much attention to the signature or the artist. It is signed in the upper right hand corner J M Joseph.it is an oil painting on canvas of a sea scape scene , with fishermen on their boats in a wharf that could be somewhere in jaimacai i suppose. I would like to know more about the piece if possible but am unsure as to where to send pictures or who to ask. Sincerely, Ed Martinez

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