This new section brings together not only few scattered elements but also a new link written and drawn for you (a cartoon on M's life). We wish you will enjoy discovering it. We are drawing your attention on the small but great column written by François Chevalier. A must read, a must see and a must listen simply betweeen ourselves.
Behind this cartoon, was the craving for drawing but surely the desire to tell us a story. Patrick Bertrand, Michelle Champetier's husband, a former architect has conceived and realized the scenario and the drawings. He is the author of about fifteen books mainly for kids published with different editors (Actes Sud, Seuil, Lo Païs, Ricochet, etc...).
We created this comic book for you in which M. Petichamp is the purely fictive heroine. None of the characters are real along these adventures. Any resemblance to persons living or dead is purely coincidental.
Just to settle the story and to make the reader's mouth water, this first delivery displays four plates. In each of our coming updates, we will deliver two or four newly drawn plates.
We hope, dear readers, that you will find the adventure of M's life both unusual and eventful and that you will be kept in suspense. Patiently, month after month, you will discover her extraordinary adventures. Algeria is not far away, History neither, Art always near, Prints world will come soon but let's wait.
Our faithful foreign readers will forgive us for sure, for not giving translations of these plates.
We wanted to give it a little space of writing and thinking as we thought, with a mixture of malice and strength, to be a storyteller exciting-passionate about art.
Journalist and art critic, then producer at France Culture and collaborator at Aimé Maeght Gallery and Foundation, François Chevalier was the founder and editor of "Chronicles of the living art", before dedicating himself logically to the visual art of the twentieth century by excellence: the cinema. He is the author, in 2010, of "The society of self-contempt - From the urinal Duchamp to the suicides of France Telecom", published by Gallimard.
The translation of this text will be available in few days.
Il a suffi que Miro aperçoive une de ses toiles dans la vitrine d’une petite galerie pour que François Fiedler devienne, à 25 ans, l’un des poulains de la prestigieuse Galerie Maeght en compagnie de Braque, Calder, Giacometti, Chagall, Tapies, Ubac, Tal Coat …. Un vrai coup de chance pour le jeune peintre hongrois : dans ces années -là les vrais amateurs d’art abstrait étaient peu nombreux et l’œil infaillible d’un Miro aussi rare que maintenant. D’autant plus que Fiedler, qui parlait à peine français, n’était pas un Rastignac et se souciait fort peu de plaire : si ses amis ne l’en avaient empêché il se serait installé en province, au diable, là où aucun critique d’art n’a jamais mis les pieds. Rien de mieux pour le décrire, d’ailleurs, que de faire la liste des auteurs qu’il a illustrés : des poèmes de St Jean de la Croix, des pensées d’Héraclite et l’Evangile selon St Mathieu … Du poétique, du philosophique et du religieux. Une nourriture d’anachorète qui se souciait peu de vivre dans un décor ingrat de grande banlieue tant qu’il avait pour survivre un atelier, un jardin avec des arbres et des fleurs, et de la musique : du Mozart et du Monteverdi principalement. Et un chat aussi peut-être. L’essentiel de la vie pour lui était définitivement « intérieur ». Il était lancé dans une quête sans fin, à la poursuite d’un but qui était bien autre chose que la gloire. Depuis que Pollock lui avait donné, avec l’Action Painting, ce qu’il pensait être l’outil pour le faire, il s’acharnait à résoudre une contradiction insoluble sans voir que c’est sa propre lutte qu’il décrivait. Celle de fixer un monde qui ne tient pas ensemble, où les cercles ne sont jamais vraiment fermés, où les traits venus on ne sait d’où glissent au hasard des surfaces et se démultiplient sans raison, où des explosions de couleurs restent suspendues dans l’espace et où les vides sont remplis de présences insaisissables. Un monde à la stabilité constamment évasive, faite de déséquilibres superposés, toujours prêts à se défaire et pourtant arrêtés. Un monde inquiet, sans repos, fait de formes en cours de changement même quand elles ont l’air achevées et dont le titre d’une des œuvres résume génialement l’intention générale : « Tourbillon fixe ». Un monde inachevé en perpétuel recommencement, qui vous échappe quand on veut le saisir et crée autre chose que ce que l’on attend. Le monde d’Héraclite, en fait, qu’il avait illustré depuis toujours sans le savoir (ou le savait-il?), bien avant d’en avoir la commande. Parce qu’il le sentait comme ça. Parce qu’il était un artiste et qu’il pressentait le monde avec une acuité sans pareille mais ne pouvait l’expliquer par des mots. Car c’était son corps tout entier, nourricier de son imaginaire, qui avait perçu cette vérité et ne pouvait la transcrire que par ce qui était son langage à lui : une forme. Contredisant ainsi le discours simpliste de Duchamp exaltant la supériorité du discours intellectuel sur « l’animalité » du discours artistique. Comme si l’être humain n’avait pas d’autre moyen d’appréhender le monde que la logique et la raison! Alors qu’il est capable de capter par les sens, comme l’a fait cet écorché vif de Fiedler, tout changement majeur en train de se développer dans la perception de la réalité. Comme celui qui lui faisait mettre au cœur de son art une harmonie d’une extrême audace car toujours précaire, une organisation non rassurante de l’espace contraire à celles des classiques, en empoisonnant la beauté de ses formes par la suggestion constante de leur fugacité …
Once upon a time there was a young boy who wanted to be a footballer. His father was a soldier and his mother a musician, they knew nothing of this fantastic game and were not very enthusiastic. He taught himself the game by playing with his friends and joined the local team. As he was tall, springy and unafraid of the odd boot he was positioned as goalie. There, alone in his cage, sole defender when his team had lost the ball, he learnt to live in fear, accept the urgency of his responsibility. A feeling he never lost. He developed an eye for seeing in a flash the possible directions the ball could take and to position himself accordingly to stop the goals. He thought of going professional until a knee injury stole his dream. Nonetheless, the goalie’s secret desire to master space remained dormant inside him. This is why he at first reoriented himself towards architecture, before discovering drawing as the best way of exploring this abstract and evasive topic. He then found his solution: he created a thing, inspired by tomb monuments, from his native land called Ilarik, the beginning of a long series of traps, entitled sculptures that gave a sense to space. Hieroglyphic totems of sorts, symbols discretely appearing at first, slowly became more imposing. Many of which were in iron because as a child he often heard the sound of hammer against anvil and the whistling of steam coming from the reddened iron dipped in water, a country of iron and blacksmiths. So he put on his leather apron and twisted and turned bits of metal which were exhibited in museums. He became one of laborers that labor at the gates of hell, those that work on useless objects which we call “artists”. After iron he tried all sorts of material: wood, granite, cement, steel, alabaster, terracotta, even paper, beautiful thick handmade paper as well as cardboard. He made cutouts and prints of architectural shapes and subtle nooses. Trapping space to the millimeter by drawing hands enclosed in a space that captured the unfinished movement and made it come alive. Outdoors, large structures captured the line of the horizon, a fragment of landscape, or compelled the disheveled wind to go through the teeth of a giant comb that he fixed on a rock. Unless he reproduced an inversed symbol of his totems engraved into the side of a mountain, a construction of emptiness of sorts, forcing light and space into the earth. A demiurgic work, a par with the immaterial and invisible elements, just as La Concha Bay had transmitted them to him – where he was born and where he died. It was ever-present throughout his life. Few artists were as rooted in a soil and heard in the four corners of the world. The old philosopher Bachelard who knew his elements once called him a “musician of spheres”. It is true he was out of time and space. This creator of absolute modernism could seem surprisingly archaic, even anachronistic. He had an ecclesiastical air about him, something in his stare, his asceticism and his silence, just as there was an air of knighthood due to conquistador physique and his attention to others. As though he was from the middle ages… in fact he sculpted cathedral doors, recited St Jean de la Croix, read St Augustin or Valente and enjoyed modern authors such as Heidegger, Celan and Octavio Paz. Such was his real dimension, a guardian of large spaces, his last fight against smallness and compromise which was gradually taking over….
Miro, From the brush of his eye lid Alights a quarrel of stars
All is said in two verses, by René Char. Who but a spokesperson for a poet could best describe Miro, the most poetical of all artists? How can you explain logically; psychologically; sociologically; philosophically, the child-like wonder without killing the wonder? Furthermore, how can we explain the extraordinary skills, child-Miro mustered to protect his “magic thoughts” from the burdening realism of grownups?
Juanito had a brilliant start, absorbing his peers experience and techniques whilst avoiding many traps and preserved his innocence. Indeed, from his first steps in the flourishing Parisian artistic jungle, where everyone, Impressionists, Fauvists, Cubists, Dadaists … wanted him, the Catalan child prodigy, whilst multiplying happiness, experiences and friendships, without losing himself. The surrealists whom he had seduced with his overflowing imagination often teased the serious, impeccably dressed little senorito. Maybe it was his slight stiffness which distinguished him from the overly demonstrative “artists” and that instinctively protected in him what would be his strength: an untouched freshness of his feelings. With which he felt the moon, the stars, flowers or women, his figures of predilection, with the emotional acuteness of a new born. He was pure, stirred by an impassioned speech by Miraux, and filled with life by the site of a starry night. He liked to, as he would say “watch the night”. Better than all the other artists, with the exception of maybe Paul Klee and Calder at evoking childhood from their work, he managed to protect himself from all the skepticisms, Ironies; cynicisms which kill spontaneity and ages perception. The unsportly Andre Breton, who wanted to outcast him, was wrong: Miro did not suffer, as the Pope of surrealism once said “of a certain stunted growth of personality, stuck in childhood”: He had simply managed to avoid all the lids dropped on children that stifle their genius. He alone had escaped all “regulation” including those, as Breton said that we impose on ourselves. Thus, little Juan, intense and laconic, open to the world but grounded in his roots, who preferred painting than talking about it, was as unscathed at the beginning of his life as he was at the end. Nor the honors, the speeches, the money, the flattery, the museums built for him, the admiration of his peers affected his manner. In reality, the only thing he needed in life was, as he said “a choc that allows me to escape from reality. The cause of the choc can be a piece of threat come loose on a canvas, a drop of water about to fall, the imprint of my finger left on the surface of the table. In any case I need a starting point even if it is a speck of dust or a flash of light…..” Whether it be drawing, print, sculpture, ceramics, stained glass, monuments…. All captured the wonder of a child’s drawing.
Raoul Ubac*, or Rudolph Ubach; is not a child of Germany or of Belgium, but of a very specific region of the Ardennes, situated on the border of these two countries called the plane of Fagnes. An open plane landscape, which the winter snow transforms into an arctic tundra where, only half a century ago those who strayed froze to death. Nothing but forests and peat bogs till the eye can see, a land that breeds sturdy, introverted dreamers, not unlike Raoul "Ubac" predestined to live in this place where the sun never shines. Thus he came across, a sailor of the high planes, with an ice blue gaze, a traveler who saw beyond the horizons, and travelled across Europe by foot without any other ambition than to be a ranger. Thrown into art by the discovery of the clandestine surrealist manifesto, he became a photographer, living alone, in the Adriatic amongst the immense white stone reserve of the island of Hvar. He let the light transform them into the pictures that he took: burnt; solarisation; petrification; surimpression… It is as though he wanted to force nature her-self to produce the forms and the materials of his works. Then all of a sudden everything changed. At 29 he abandoned photography and started to recreate the world using simple, familiar objects which he drew by quill: glasses and bottles, fruit and bread, knife and scissors…. All very mundane, letting the materials become the subject of the drawing. It was as though he wanted to clear his head of the sophistication of surrealism. It is also after the typical period of soul searching (10 to 25 years) that the inner artist Ubac found his medium, one which, the earth and wave of successive horizons, engraved in his bones. Something quite simple in the end: a few markings and furrows, lines as often engraved as painted, almost sculpted in an mix of resins as hard as stone. A primitive art, totemic, absent of the individual: the bodies and torsos that appear have no faces (“I can’t, he said, draw together a body and a face”). And when he creates a face it’s ‘in negative’: a black shape of which only the outlines suggest the meaning, a silhouette (which itself has its own shadow!) oddly named Like an obscure floor. An enigmatic face, not a narcistic projection of one self but rather a modest affirmation of one who perceives the infinity of the world and judges man and himself in their real dimension. This same modesty has him one day engraving a slab of slate with a nail and pushes him now to sculpt outlines in impossible materials, usually outcast by ‘real’ sculptors: the schist. When describing them they almost sound like self-portraits: “Dry stone, reluctant to bend to fantasies, slate is an ungrateful material…. Made of an infinite number of layers of sheets compressed …. A book of stone… and as if by magic it opens up when hit sharply on the edge. Other than that, the medium is limiting, it refuses to adopt other shapes…..” Anyone who knew “Rolph” (as he was known to his friends), saw the obvious similarities between his character and this “rough stone”, this “ungrateful material”, he was not known to “bend or adapt” either. This “book of stone, the compressed sheets” fascinated him. Both brittle and unusable, slate was once used by laborers to make furrows. The infinite lines of furrows were a great stimulator for this mystic pagan, creator of shapes. His true integrity defines the key to his art and puts him beyond the reach of art dealers. You cannot contract a cathedral architect or if you do it is at your own peril. Rather than exhibit his most precious works, it is said that he buried to save them from becoming mere venal objects. He gives them back to the earth to be sure to find them again.
Representations of abortion, madness, age, war, castration, prostitution, and some other calamities, have made Edward Kienholz the most wretched artist of the second half of the 20th Century. Banned from the said most progressive country in the world: the United States. Thanks to him; amidst the cold war, whilst Washington was putting all of its efforts into winning over hearts and spirits, the American institutions shot a bullet in their foot by banning this scandalous visionary from exhibiting as he was a triumph on the old continent. Sadly, revealing that the victory over the Nazis had taught the American government nothing, as they dared call an Art which they did not understand ‘degenerate’. Nothing was more ‘popular’ than this art, that was at the same time ’brute’, ‘naïf’ and monumental, invented by the son of poor farmers, penniless, without formal artistic training, joining Bacon and Kieffer at the pantheon of the furiously mad geniuses. Neither sculptures, paintings or installations in the modern sense, his work resembles reconstructed crime scenes, suddenly petrified by a paralysing bolt of lightning. Each piece is a terrible silent cry, a violent or satirical protest against injustice. The Wait, Illegal operation, Roxy’s, Five Car Stud, The State, Hospital, Birthday… are a denouncement and the expression of an unspeakable personal suffering, from which the old carpet, the twisted limbs, the metal scraps from which the works are composed and the sordid or repugnant subject choice are an expression. They are similar to the painful glass arrows that spurt out of the stomach of the parturient in Birthday. But the imagery of noise and fury, straight out of Faulkner and the darkness of the Calvinist sin, hides a world of strange beauty: Like the blank watch faces, or the empty aquariums and the blank televisions, the ninety eight Christ’s exhibits doll hands, the harsh, formal strictness of the psychiatric cell and especially the perfect balance of the spaces that create anxiety and solitude as well as the consoling beauty of a monument. Once, when passing through London, Kienholz bought a Tiffany lamp, an old souvenir of his childhood. He arrived at the airport, with the cumbersome opalescent glass beauty which he knew to be impossible to wrap. The defying company airline employees however, insisted that they could, but on arrival the lamp was in pieces….and oh did the insurance company drag their feet in paying up the premium. So, one fine morning, Kienholz as the true lumberjack that he once was, put on his shoulder his most beautiful axe and went across Los Angeles to claim his due. Which he specified was to be paid in cash, regardless of it being a Saturday and the banks being closed. A promising Assistant Director, called in haste to reason with this difficult client, attempted in vain to persuade this man, which he naïvely mistook for a moody artist, easily influenced by flattery and vague promises, as you so often find, they had not taught him at university that there are still people, indifferent to progress, that live outside all realms of worldly interest, in short, Olympic Gods. He did not understand until Kienholz axed the managerial desk, a polished steal masterpiece, of some great designer, sent to the trash by a representative of hell. The story says, that he walked back across Los Angeles, his axe on his shoulder, grasping in his other arm one of those large supermarket paper bags, filled with green notes.
For the international elite and institutions, Alexander Calder is a famous artist staking the world of his metal dreams. But for the kids from Touraine who come to spy him after school, he is an old craftsman, a little drunk, who manufactures great toys for the sky in a workshop huge as an aircraft hangar. He is a fairy character, with the look of plantigrade laundered from the years, which spoke to them in an incomprehensible language pretending to be French. An inhabitant of another planet, in fact, lost in the softness of a French countryside: an "American." Of course, they were right. Sandy, as he is affectionately called, belongs more to their world than ours. Or rather, from all the artists as they say they have "kept their childhood," he was the one who hid it the least. The proof is the little people trolls and magical figures that often arose from his pencils, and this miniature circus, so famous, with trapeze artists and belly dancer, that he had obviously made first for him... But this massive baby, seventy years old, sitting cross-legged on the ground, twisting wire between his big nimble fingers or carefully filing a piece of metal, put to work a concentration of watchmaking. What he was in reality: an experimenter of movement and balance constantly testing the stability of things. Should there be one, four, or five feet into the ground to secure the air wing of the high stabile? Where is the balance point for the mobile industry in order to be the most agitated by the wind? This cosmic engineer, holder of the highest score ever given in spatial geometry in the State of New York, by making a model of 15 centimeters tinkering for a 15meters stabile, brought it to the factory stating "a hundred times! " and all proportions fell right. He does no have any trouble in taking accurate measurements of the world: his body does it for him. Under his bushy eyelashes and nose hair all his senses felt everything. Thus, in the middle of an interview, taking advantage of a technical break, he suddenly began running without warning. The director, surprised, frowned, while silently, the artist’s eyes fixed on one point as he crossed the space that separated him from the spectators. This is there, in the small forest of legs and feet that move away on his approach, he leaned on an object that no one had seen. A handkerchief, in fact, whose whiteness contrasted with the dirt floor. Her owner was profuse in thanks as he returned to his seat; with the same slippery approach that Kodiak bear have and whose lightness belied his mass. Then he went carefully in front of the camera with a waiting position, face now relaxed, looking happy: he had given to space all its integrity.
There was in Bacon a kind of perfection in his relationship to the other. Perfection of his well-cut clothes and impeccably polished shoes. Perfection of his courtesy both English for his discretion and French for his charm. Perfection of his conversation perfectly suited to what he had guessed from you. No ostentation or break remembering that he was famous or that "painting was his life." Just a friendly exchange of ideas between two people trusting each other without knowing each other. He was fifty years ago, a pleasant man who kept behind a very British self-control, an Irish spontaneity. In short, a cultivated man with a brain so organized that he could, emerging from a nap due to too much good food, resume discussion exactly where it was left off: "The distaste for Kant ..." The organization of his life as he described it was of the same order. The workshop at eight "as a laborer," the five o'clock tea at family members of the gentry, dinner with friends artists and cultural figures. Nothing much anticipated in this life. Anything that could make a breach in any case, linking the man to his work. And besides what man? The famous artist doing retrospectives around the world? The passionate painter familiarly with Michelangelo, Velazquez, Cezanne, Degas and Picasso to extract their secrets? Or the outrageous homosexual who, surprising a burglar at his home, made him his lover? or the extravagant gambler, creator of a gambling den in Tangier, obliged to be put under guardianship not to be ruined for life? For his gentlemanly ways and his life carefully segmented had clocked to hide his depths. Until the night in a bar a bit murky, a blade springs from a handle a few feet away from him. A small man a little drunk with an ex-convict dug face waving the "flame" of a switchblade in front of people stunned. But not Bacon. He, with bright eyes, frozen face, suddenly had a kind of smile, like an animal that shows his teeth. And with a lightning the veil was torn, the artwork and the man becoming one, in a mixture of flesh convulsive and teeth, of screaming popes in fictitious cages, of massive men bodies that one ignore if they caress or kill each other, of shapeless beings exhibited as objects on trays or cornered in a circular prison, or distended faces, twisted, gummed, slurried, both monumental and flanges, as beautiful as those burn rebuilt. And always teeth, teeth, teeth and meat carcasses hanging over the heads... And in this same beautiful empty prison that is his, the author had painted himself, as he appears in his photos as a guilty child with a sad and terrified look, sitting among a pile of filth."
Finally, each work of Giacometti is a miracle. Less by his exceptional quality that by the risk that the character of his author takes. To see his work, let it be it drawing or sculpture, one might wonder if he really wanted to complete the outline of the face emerging from a raging crayonning which could equally well be interpreted as a refusal to reveal this picture, an attempt to remove it from the creation, push into the nothingness from where his hand was out against his will. For each work seemed to lead a fight against himself, against an untold "forbidden to create" that was the transgression of the one true goal of his art. That would explain the strange indifference he might have in the outcome of this struggle when, after hours of mixed block of clay into a head, he gave up for lunch. There stood the greatest danger. If Diego, his brother, was not in the studio on his return to convince him the head left on the kitchen table was worth (if he had not hidden it to forget about it) Alberto, never happy with what he did, triturated again without mercy the already carved clay, destroying, to make another one, which would have been for us a masterpiece. This suggests that in the absence of Diego, would have remained, with luck, only one work of Giacometti, as the act of sketching and endless grind seemed more important to him than its final purpose.
Click on the dates to see previous "Small tale(s) of secret madness".
In this tiny section which will be growing after each new update, a short commentary or witty opinion, written or told by an artist will be suggested. To think about it for pleasure and fun!
Click on the dates to see previous Personal views.
"I will never be a serious rival for anyone. I have other fish to fry."
The short movies presented here for each of our gallery updates have been conceived and realized by Eric Andréatta. Self-taught artist, Eric paints, sculpts and imagines systems. With his mischievous look, the man is warm, brimming with offbeat humor, always ready for punchy words when regarding our daily life. Here, we are talking about aerodynamics and rocket propulsion.