Life and career
After spending his childhood in Quimper, Brittany, France, he enrolled in the Paris Colonial School, which he left in 1897 for an artistic career. He was one of the first friends Pablo Picasso made in Paris. They met in the summer of 1901, and it was Jacob who helped the young artist learn French. Later, on the Boulevard Voltaire, he shared a room with Picasso, who remained a lifelong friend (and was included in his artwork Three Musicians). Jacob introduced him to Guillaume Apollinaire, who in turn introduced Picasso to Georges Braque. He would become close friends with Jean Cocteau, Jean Hugo, Christopher Wood and Amedeo Modigliani, who painted his portrait in 1916. He also befriended and encouraged the artist Romanin, otherwise known as French politician and future Resistance leader Jean Moulin. Moulin's famous nom de guerre Max is presumed to be selected in honor of Jacob.
Jacob, who had Jewish origins, claimed to have had a vision of Christ in 1909, and converted to Catholicism.
Max Jacob is regarded as an important link between the symbolists and the surrealists, as can be seen in his prose poems Le cornet à dés (The Dice Box, 1917 – the 1948 Gallimard edition was illustrated by Jean Hugo) and in his paintings, exhibitions of which were held in New York City in 1930 and 1938.
His writings include the novel Saint Matorel (1911), the verses Le laboratoire central (1921), and La défense de Tartuffe (1919), which expounds his philosophical and religious attitudes.
The famous psychoanalyst Jacques Lacan attributed the quote "The truth is always new" to Jacob.