French art historian. Born 1881, died 1943.
A professor of art history at the Sorbonne and, later, at the Collège de France, Focillon specialised in mediaeval art. His Art d'Occident - Le Moyen Age roman et gothique ("Art of the West in the Middle Ages", 2 volumes, 1938) was and is a central work on the subject.
His major contribution to art theory, however, came in the form of his La vie des formes ("The Life of Forms", 1934, also published as "Life Forms in Art"). In this, he developed a formalistic methodology of art history, stressing analysis of technique and style rather than a subjective approach.
When France was occupied by Germany during World War II, Focillon became an exile, supporting the Free French. He fought for the French cause with words, wielding a sharp pen in his homeland's name. He taught a course in archaeology at Yale University in the United States, and died there during his exile, in 1943.