Happy Birthday Jean Cocteau!! Jean Cocteau was a French artist born in 1889, wishing to be known as a poet, Cocteau was also a playwright, designer, artist and filmmaker. He wrote the volume of poems, Aladdin’s Lamp, at age 19. His friends were Pablo Picasso, Marlene Dietrich, Coco Channel and Raymond Radiguet among others and they struggled with how to best exemplify a classical avant-garde. He was loosely connected to Dada and Surrealism, although he denied being a member of any group. Some feel The Infernal Machine was his best play, written in the 1930’s. In the 40’s he produced Beauty and the Beast and Orphee. He earned the nickname The Frivolous Prince, taken from the title from one of his works. He fought addiction to opium and was said to be obsessed with death and immortality. Toward the end of his life he painted a series of murals, including one at the Church of Notre Dame, London, depicting his version of the crucifixion of Christ from a distinctly different vantage point. I am including a close-up of a portion of the mural here.