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Jean Paul Darriau

male 1929-2006
20th Century
Life city:
Bloomington, IN
re: Jean Paul Darriau -

  • Monroe County

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(Obituary for Jeah Paul Darriau, as appearing in the Bloomington Herald Telegraph)

Sculptor, IU professor Jean Paul Darriau dies

Celebrated Indiana University sculptor and professor Jean Paul Darriau died Saturday afternoon. He was 76.

The son of French immigrants, Darriau is best known locally for works such as “Red, Blond, Black, and Olive,” the two 14-by-16-foot human profiles carved from limestone at Miller-Showers Park, and “The Space Between: Adam and Eve,” a bronze piece at the edge of Dunn Woods just behind Kirkwood Hall on the IU campus.

Darriau’s work often hinged on the symbolic, as with his piece at Miller-Showers Park, which featured the four major races of the world.

“I know that he had a lot of successes and really had a strong sense of social
conscience and believed that his work should reflect social occurrences and try to change the world for the better,” said Betsy Stirratt, who worked with Darriau on his retirement exhibit at the SoFA Gallery on the campus of IU.

Darriau passed away Saturday at his Bloomington residence, leaving quite a legacy: a marriage with his wife, Cherry Merritt-Darriau, that produced four children; a relationship with the community he made his home for more than 40 years; a noted career as a sculptor; and a 35-year career at IU, rising to become an associate professor of sculpture emeritus at the IU School of Fine Arts.

In his lengthy career, he saw his work presented nationally and internationally at the Guggenheim Museum, the Joseph Hirschorn Collection in Washington D.C., the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, the Denver Art Museum, and the Galleria Schneider
in Rome.

Stirratt worked with Darriau to pare down his 40-year collection of work to fit into his retirement exhibition in 1996.

“He was very prolific and did a lot of work,” said Stirratt. “The challenging part of working with him was narrowing down the enormous amount of work he did to create an exhibit.”

Born in 1929 in New York City, Darriau attended the High School of Music and Art. He received his bachelor’s degree from Brooklyn College in 1951 and his master’s of fine arts degree from the University of Minnesota in 1954. Two Fulbright grants took him to Italy and France. In Italy, he spent two years working in bronze casting techniques at the Istituto d’Arte in Florence and the Guastini Foundry in Pistoria, from which he emerged a master of bronze casting.

In 1995, Darriau was voted one of Indiana University’s top 25 professors in a campuswide survey, with participants recommending to students that this was a professor not to be missed. His teaching method was one of engagement, often goading students into discussions about social issues.

“He was very warm and effusive and excited about things,” Stirratt said. “He would get just overly excited about these things that intrigued him, and he had a lot of ideas.”

Darriau leaves behind his wife, Cherry; and four children, Andrea, Joseph Paul,
Richard Adam and Mathieu Jean Darriau.

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