Gurdjieff International Review
ed-headed Jacques was born in a little village in Normandy, France, on the 8th of March 1920. His father was a theater actor and his mother a kind woman dedicated to her home, where he grew up with an older brother and a younger sister. Graduated in Letters from the Sorbonne University of Paris, he started working in the radio department of a publicity agency called “Hermes” from 1942 until the end of the Second World War in 1945.
Both Jacques and his brother, Alfred, became interested in the Gurdjieff Work through Philippe Lavastine, and eventually started going to Mr. Gurdjieff’s Paris apartment in the evenings. Jacques was called the “Procureur” by Mr. G. and given the special task of taking notes during the meetings of the 1940s while the war was still raging in Europe. Some of these notes have been published.
Following the war, Jacques decided to leave France in 1946, as there were no commercial activities and few opportunities for business. He first went to Brazil to start a new life but stayed just a few months, and in January 1947 he emigrated to Venezuela. There, Jacques started working in a French oil company and learned the Spanish language. He then decided to travel across the whole country to make a living selling outboard motors for boats and after a while settled in northeastern Venezuela to make a living working as the head of a noodle factory.
In 1950, Jacques moved to Caracas where he bought a bar. Soon after that, my mother, Nathalie de Salzmann, along with my two brothers and me, came to join him in Caracas. He then became administrator of a French bookstore, followed by a lovely store that sold Japanese goods and finally a pet shop. Jacques and Nathalie married in 1954, and together they had two daughters. They built a big house in the outskirts of Caracas, already thinking of having groups and movements classes there.
Jacques then met Luis Beltran Gonzalez who was the head of a big advertising agency called “Corpa,” and started to work in the radio department. From there he was quickly moved to the television department, which was making its appearance in Venezuela. He was fascinated by this new medium. His vision and understanding of human psychology made him understand the potential which existed in this new form when others did not. This coupled with his tremendous work capacity enabled him to quickly climb the corporate ladder so that within a few years he became the Vice-President and then the President of what became, under his leadership, the biggest advertising agency in the country.
In January 1969 the government decorated Jacques with a medal from the Order of Francisco de Miranda and in April he received the award of “Man of the Year in Publicity” from the International Association of Publicists of Venezuela with unanimous recognition for his social, economic and cultural contributions. He then explained his simple philosophy as an advertiser: “What is essential to sell a product is to know the role it has in the consumer’s life.” At the same time, he said that the most fascinating aim for a publicist was to contribute to the development of human beings.
In 1971, he was the first Venezuelan to become a member of the Academic Advertising Age’s “Creative Workshops” in Chicago. He was also president or director of many agencies, festivals, and congresses.
Through his own work, his vital interest in everything, and the force of his personality, Jacques made numerous friends in all sectors of society. He was a human being who had a rare capacity of connecting with everybody by his genuine interest in each person and each situation. He had a keen intelligence coupled with great kindness and generosity toward all.
All my life I remember not being able to go anywhere with him, be it a movie theater, a restaurant, a bullfight, shopping, or just walking in town, without being accosted several times for many different reasons: from asking a favor to just the telling of a joke, to a serious exchange. Sometimes it felt as if we had no privacy being with this very gregarious public man, who stopped to interact with each person as if he had nothing else to do.