Ambroise Paul Toussaint Jules Valéry (French, 1871-1945)

Paul Valéry was an author and poet who had an express interest in art, music, and literature. Highly influenced by poet Stéphane Mallarmé, Valéry is known as the last Symbolist or the first post-Symbolist poet. Rejecting content or theme for the formal musicality in the sounds of his “projects,” he believed that poems were a tool for introspection into the mind. 
He married Jeannine Gobillard, a niece of Impressionist painter Berthe Morisot, in 1900 in a double ceremony where Morisot’s daughter Julie Manet married artist Ernest Rouart. Valéry became well established in the Parsian art and literature worlds, serving as a juror of art grants and was elected to the Académie française in 1925. In 1936, he published Degas, danse, dessin (Degas, Dance, Design), which was not a work of art history or criticism, but rather a rumination on philosophy, aesthetics, and memory. An exhibition of the same name was mounted at the Musée d’Orsay in 2018 which interspersed Degas’s drawings, pastels, and wax models of dancers with quotes from Valéry’s text, positioning artist and author in dialogue with one another.