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Cabaret dancers by Michel Costiou


An ancient art
Ancient cultures have developed inks using vegetable, mineral or animal ingredients. Scribes wrote with ink on their papyrus, the Mayans created their ink from clay for their religious codexes. In modern art, ink is used for its ambivalence. When diluted in water, it is appreciated for its translucency (wash), whereas when used pure, it is its intensity that is sought after. The famous artist Michel Costiou uses ink to sublimate the body. Founder of art in movement, he resorts to four themes: classical dance, circus arts, the Republican Guard and the music hall.

Drawings in Indian ink, mixed techniques on stone paper, paintings on canvas, engravings on zinc, decorative panels... so many supports that this medium allows and that Michel Cositou never stops experimenting.


Michel Costiou, an artist from the Pyrenees, grew up in Toulouse where he studied at the Beaux-Arts before joining the ENSBA in Paris, then the Atelier Supérieur de Peinture Chapelain Midy and the Ecole Estienne in the Bauhaus movement training section. Through his encounters, he discovers the fascinating world of dance and opera, where he creates a multitude of sketches live during performances. Dancers came to pose in his studio to finance their dance classes.

Michel then founded the very first movement drawing workshop with musicians, dancers, acrobats and mimes at the Académie d'Art Roederer, Place des Vosges in Paris, a spontaneous experimentation of rhythms and postures which has since been practiced in all art schools.

Michel Costiou, Art of movement
Michel Costiou Music'Hall


An adept at hybridisation and an insatiable innovator, he collaborates with earthenware, decoration and clothing companies. He immortalizes the frenzy of frenzied dancers on the zinc plates of the roofs of Paris, and transcribes the joyful world of the cabaret on stone paper with the complicity of his companion Juliette, costume designer at the Moulin Rouge.

Singers, dancers, showgirls, it is the joyful and extravagant world of the music hall that Michel Costiou reveals on paper the adventures as the public experienced them in the theatre!


From the 1970s onwards, Michel Costiou positioned himself as an ambassador for Lefranc Bourgeois: he experimented with so-called "modern" paints and presented them to the general public as a demonstrator. The artist is not content with exposing the properties and instructions of the product, he appropriates it and diverts it with the joyful impertinence that is characteristic of him, testing the supports and mixtures. This was a period of great innovation in the Fine Arts market: painting on fabric, polycloth, polyflashe, all new products that Michel Costiou tested with extravagance and amusement.

Visitors can attend spectacular demonstrations in the biggest Parisian shops: La Samaritaine, Galeries Lafayette, BHV, ... Michel Costiou is a pioneer of modern painting and its methods of use. Flashe paint is one of the first acrylics he used: it meets his need for agility and allows for speed in spontaneous application movements.

Michel Costiou with Flashe Vinyl Acrylic
Flashe tubes


Flashe vinyl paint was originally designed for theatre and opera sets in 1954 because of its unique matte and velvet finish. Popular with Victor Vasareli, Niki de Saint Phalle, JonOne, Caroline Faindt and Michel Costiou among others, Flashe has become an iconic modern reference.


Nan-King Indian ink from Lefranc Bourgeois is composed of an intense black pigment. It is opaque, indelible and fluid and offers excellent durability. It is used by modern artists in many fields such as illustration, figurative, sketches, abstraction, street art, ink art, alone or in mixed techniques as Michel Costiou also experiments.

Ink drawings, mixed techniques on stone paper, paintings on canvas, engravings on zinc, decorative panels, lamps... Michel Costiou diverts the uses of ink according to his inspiration and the supports.

Indeed, the properties of ink allow it to be applied to all rigid, flexible, absorbent and non-absorbent supports: paper, rhodoid, cardboard, wood, plaster, glass, plastic, clay, earth, salt dough, painted paper, fabric, tracing paper, modelling clay, metal, polystyrene.

Encre Nan-King
Ballet by Costiou


Ink is also a favourite medium for Michel Costiou, allowing him to draw in the half-light of an opera house or cabaret. With a very fine brush he paints silhouettes, movements, sequences, and pierces the semi-darkness with the deep black of the ink.

Michel Costiou's life is part of a ballet. The dancers enter the stage, the stage fright is felt, the artist in the half-light concentrates on the breaths and the steps.

The ink is thrown with vivacity on the paper to the rhythm of each flight. Each movement of the ballet is assimilated, studied and decomposed on Michel's ink sheets.

This projection of immediate emotions on the scrolled pages allows us to feel the pleasure of the performance!


Let's go!

Creator of emotions, the circus amazes us as children and adults.

Acrobatics, costumes, atmospheres, props... a whole colourful, demanding and eccentric universe that Michel Costiou retraces through his works where artistic gymnastics is sublimated.

He captures the body expressions of the acrobats: wheels, lifts, jumps, juggling... The art of the circus; a real game of balance and coordination.


circus by michel costiou
The French Republican Guard


The prestigious mounted Republican Guard contributes to France's international reputation. Michel Costiou highlights this heritage and know-how through works in which the music of the Guard and the cavalry band give rhythm to military protocol.

When the costumes become uniforms and the music fanfare, the time of official ceremonies rings!

Here again Michel Costiou captures with panache the movement of the horses and the guards, not without retranscribing the proud posture of each one.


Michel Costiou never stops innovating to accompany us in the revelation of movement throughout the choreography of our lives.

"It is an approach that I did not choose, it came as an absolute necessity, I even think that it was a therapy..

Michel Costiou, Revelation of movement