Born in Minessota (United States), 1905Decease on 1970 in Minessota
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James Jerome Hill was born in Saint Paul, Minnesota, on March 2, 1905. Heir to the railroad fortune of James J. Hill. He begun painting and drawing from an early age.
Hill grew up in Saint Paul, attending the Saint Paul Academy, and Yale College. He graduated in 1927 with a degree in Music, then he traveled to Europe and began studies in painting. On trips with family and friends in Europe, Hill experimented with still photography and with early motion picture cameras.
In the late 1920s, while painting landscapes in the south of France, Hill discovered a piece of property in Cassis, a scenic port town on the Mediterranean Sea. Hill purchased the property and began sharing his time between Cassis and Paris in 1930. Although Hill also maintained a residence in Norden, California, and lived in New York City for long stretches, Cassis would remain his physical and spiritual home for the majority of his life.
Hill painted and made short films throughout the 1930s, and continued to do so until he joined the military in World War II. While in the Army, he served in multiple capacities: he scripted training films, worked in aerial photography and surveillance groups, and used his language skills as part of the Prisoner of War Interrogation units. After his service, he returned to his property in Cassis, which had suffered only minor damage under German occupation.
Hill spent the rest of the 1940s painting and traveling, before restarting his filmmaking career in 1949 with his documentary on the American painter Grandma Moses.
The film was released in 1950 to wide acclaim. It also marked the beginning of Hill's professional collaborations with Erica Anderson, who played a critical role in the making of Hill's next major film, "Albert Schweitzer." The film won an Academy Award for best Documentary Feature of 1957. Hill also collaborated with Schweitzer on a series of pipe organ performances of Bach compositions, recorded at a church in Schweitzer's hometown of Gunsbach, Switzerland. These were captured in Hill's film "Schweitzer and Bach."
During the 1950s, Hill also found time to begin a series of performing arts festivals in Cassis, France. These festivals offered exposure to a wide variety of European theatre professionals and Musicians, many of whom Hill helped support financially.
Also in the 1960s, Hill made two feature films: "The Sand Castle," a Jungian allegory; and "Open the Door and See all the People," a farcical comedy. For both of these films, Hill took complete control, acting as producer, writer and director. The 1960s also marked Hill's most prolific period of painting, with at least 300 canvases finished in that decade.
Hill took time in the 1960s and early 1970s to formalize his longtime support of artists by creating foundations to provide grants. The Avon Foundation (now known as the Jerome Foundation) and the Camargo Foundation continue to support artists, scholars, and non-profit arts organizations to the present day.
Hill died in November 1972, shortly after completing his cinematic memoir,
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