Jean Vénitien was born in Constantine in Algeria in 1911 where his father, Paul Vénitien, was a surveyor in the topographic service. Jean Vénitien completed his classical secondary studies while studying architecture at the School of Fine Arts of Algiers.
In 1931 he left Algeria for Paris and enrolled in the Ecole des Beaux-arts to study painting thanks to a grant from the government of Algeria. Later, in 1932, he was also admitted to the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris. In 1931 he married a Russian girl but was finding life difficult and took odd jobs to make ends meet. By the mid-1930s things were looking up and he was beginning to be recognized as an excellent portrait painter, involved in the Parisian artistic milieu of the 1930s.
He found himself within a circle of artists known as the Réalité Poétique led by Maurice Brianchon, Jules Cavaillès, Raymond Legueult, Roger Limouse, and Kostia Terechkovitch. These artists often shared the same studios, their canvases testifying to a passion for color. But times are tough for young painters. Thanks to René Berthier, a municipal councilor in Paris, the State granted Jean Vénitien 1000 francs in relief in March 1938. During the 1930s and 1940s, Jean Vénitien participated in the Salon des Tuileries, the Salon des Indépendants and the Salon d’Automne. He exhibited alongside Pierre Bonnard, Albert Marquet, Maurice de Vlaminck and Georges Rouault. The latter greatly admired his talents as a portrait painter and encouraged him. Thanks to him, Jean Vénitien received many portrait commissions. At the 1941 Salon d'Automne, the state bought one of his still lifes. In the summer of 1942, another painting was purchased by the State (Femme la mandolin).
As he had earlier been involved in Communist activities in Paris he went into hiding during the latter stages of the war but he continued to paint. In 1947 he took a teaching position at the Institute of Higher Cinematographic Studies and after held several other academic posts, mostly as a drawing master. During the 1950s his work took on an increasingly political edge and he once again, found himself immersed in Communism. He made a series of works depicting the life of Marx for an exhibition of paintings by Communist French painters.
In 1958, Jean Vénitien left Paris and moved with the communist writer Marcelle Capy, his new partner, to the Priory of Saint-Saturnin in Chevreuse to live there and set up his workshop. Together, they saved this historic monument from ruin. Right next to the workshop, they set up a restaurant where they regularly received their friends and relatives. During the 1960s, Jean Vénitien participated in various solo and collective exhibitions. From 1964, Jean Vénitien exhibited regularly in the United States. America saw Venetian as a representative painter of French art. In June 1966, a solo exhibition was organized at the prestigious Galerie Durand-Ruel in Paris. In the late 1960s and then in the 1980s, he was a professor at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris
A retrospective Jean Vénitien exhibition took place in 2014 at the Prieuré Saint-Saturnin Contemporary Art Center in Chevreuse.