André Weil (6 May 1906 – 6 August 1998) was an influential mathematician of the 20th century, renowned for the breadth and quality of his research output, its influence on future work, and the elegance of his exposition. He is especially known for his foundational work in number theory and algebraic geometry. He was a founding member and the de facto early leader of the influential Bourbaki group. The philosopher Simone Weil was his sister.
Benoît B. Mandelbrot (born 20 November 1924) is a French and American mathematician, best known as the father of fractal geometry. He is Sterling Professor of Mathematical Sciences, Emeritus at Yale University; IBM Fellow Emeritus at the Thomas J. Watson Research Center; and Battelle Fellow at the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory. Mandelbrot was born in Poland. His family moved to France when he was a child, and he was educated in France. He is a dual French and American citizen.
Camille Pissarro (10 July 1830 – 13 November 1903) was a French Impressionist painter. His importance resides not only in his visual contributions to Impressionism and Post-Impressionism, but also in his patriarchal standing among his colleagues, particularly Paul Cézanne and Paul Gauguin.
Eliezer "Elie" Wiesel KBE (born September 30, 1928) is a writer, professor at Boston University, political activist, Nobel Laureate and Holocaust survivor. He is the author of 57 books, the best known of which is Night, a work based on his experiences as a prisoner in the Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps.. His diverse range of other writings offer powerful and poetic contributions to literature, theology, and his own articulation of Jewish spirituality today.
Henri-Louis Bergson (18 October 1859–4 January 1941) was a French philosopher, influential especially in the first half of the 20th century. Bergson convinced many young people through his writing that immediate experience and intuition were as important as rational and scientific thinking for understanding reality.
Valentin Louis Georges Eugène Marcel Proust (10 July 1871 – 18 November 1922) was a French novelist, critic and essayist best known for his monumental À la recherche du temps perdu (In Search of Lost Time; earlier translated as Remembrance of Things Past). It was published in seven parts between 1913 and 1927.
Roman Raymond Polanski is a French-born and resident Polish film director, producer, writer and actor. Polanski began his career in Poland, and later became a critically acclaimed director of both art house and commercial films. Polanski's first feature-length film, Knife in the Water (1962), made in Poland, was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film.
Tristan Tzara (born Samuel or Samy Rosenstock, also known as S. Samyro; April 16 1896–December 25, 1963) was a Romanian and French avant-garde poet, essayist and performance artist. Also active as a journalist, playwright, literary and art critic, composer and film director, he was known best for being one of the founders and central figures of the anti-establishment Dada movement.
David Émile Durkheim (April 15, 1858 – November 15, 1917) was a French positivist sociologist. He formally established the academic discipline and, with Karl Marx and Max Weber, is commonly cited as the principal architect of modern social science. Durkheim developed the sociological positivism of Auguste Comte in greater detail by founding a rigorous methodology combining sociological theory with empirical social research.
René Goscinny (14 August 1926 – 5 November 1977) was a French author, editor and humorist, who is best known for the comic book Astérix, which he created with illustrator Albert Uderzo, and for his work on the comic series Lucky Luke with Morris (considered the series' golden age).
Sarah Bernhardt (born circa October 23, 1844 – March 26, 1923) was a legendary French stage and early film actress, and has been referred to as "the most famous actress the world has ever known". Bernhardt made her fame on the stages of Europe in the 1870s, and was soon in demand in Europe and the Americas. She developed a reputation as a serious dramatic actress, earning the nickname "The Divine Sarah."
Jacques Derrida (15 July 1930 – 8 October 2004) was a French philosopher born in Algeria, who is known as the founder of deconstruction. His voluminous work has had a significant impact on literary theory and continental philosophy.
Levi ben Gershon, better known by his Latinised name as Gersonides or the abbreviation of first letters as RaLBaG (1288–1344), philosopher, Talmudist, mathematician, astronomer/astrologer. He was born at Bagnols in Languedoc, France. According to Abraham Zacuto and others, he was the son of Gerson ben Solomon Catalan.
Simone Signoret (25 March 1921 – 30 September 1985) was a French cinema actress often hailed as one of France's greatest movie stars. She became the first French person to win an Academy Award, for her role in Room at the Top (1959). In her lifetime she also received a BAFTA, an Emmy, Golden Globe, Cannes Film Festival recognition and the Silver Bear for Best Actress.
Max Jacob (July 12, 1876 – March 5, 1944) was a French poet, painter, writer, and critic. After spending his childhood in Quimper, Brittany, France, he enrolled in the Paris Colonial School, which he left in 1897 for an artistic career. On the Boulevard Voltaire, he shared a room with Pablo Picasso, who introduced him to Guillaume Apollinaire, who in turn introduced him to Georges Braque.
Marc Chagall (7 July 1887 – 28 March 1985), was a Russian-French artist, associated with several key art movements and was one of the most successful artists of the twentieth century. He created a unique career in virtually every artistic medium, including paintings, book illustrations, stained glass, stage sets, ceramics, tapestries and fine art prints.
Alfred Dreyfus (9 October 1859 – 12 July 1935) was a French artillery officer of Jewish background whose trial and conviction in 1894 on charges of treason became one of the most tense political dramas in modern French and European history. It is still known today as the Dreyfus Affair.
Serge Gainsbourg, born Lucien Ginsburg (2 April 1928 – 2 March 1991) was a French singer-songwriter, actor and director. Gainsbourg's extremely varied musical style and individuality make him difficult to categorize. His legacy has been firmly established, and he is often regarded as one of the world's most influential popular musicians.
Darius Milhaud (4 September 1892 – 22 June 1974) was a French composer and teacher. He was a member of Les Six—also known as the Groupe des Six—and one of the most prolific composers of the 20th century. His compositions are influenced by jazz and make use of polytonality (music in more than one key at once).
Isidore de Lara, born Isidore Cohen (August 9, 1858 – September 2, 1935), was an English composer and singer. After studying in Italy and France, he returned to England where he taught for several years at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama and became a well known singer and composer of art songs. In the early 1880s he began to compose music for the stage, eventually achieving his greatest successes with opera in Monte Carlo from the late 1890s through the outbreak of World War I.