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Archive for the ‘Premières L / Terminales L’ Category

Pierre Soulages and his all-black canvases

Sunday, December 6th, 2009

By Tobias Grey

Published: October 9 2009 22:15 | Last updated: October 9 2009 22:15 in The Financial Times

 

Pierre Soulages
Pierre Soulages: ‘There are people who refuse to accept that you can create light on a black canvas’

Members of the media are seen at the Pompidou Center in Paris, ...Centre Pompidou, French abstractionist Pierre Soulages, Photo: Reuters/Jacky Naegelen (France Entertainment) 

Black is the new black for Pierre Soulages, France's best-known living artist

“Painting is a play of opacities and transparencies.”  ~Pierre Soulages

Standing over six feet two inches tall and dressed in his habitual black, Pierre Soulages looks as though he’s just stepped out of one of his monumental all-black canvases, suspended like cavernous portals from the ceilings of Paris’s Pompidou Centre. It is a banner year for Soulages, who never fails to oversee the hanging of his paintings.

The Pompidou’s autumn show, which anticipates Soulages’s 90th birthday on December 24, is the biggest it has ever mounted for a living French artist. It looks back over more than 60 years of his painting, with emphasis on more recent developments in his work, which have led to him being dubbed the “painter of black and light”.

The exhibition brings together more than a hundred significant works dating from 1946 to the present, from the revolutionary walnut stain works painted between 1947 and 1949 to the “beyond black” oil paintings of recent years, most of the latter being shown for the first time.

At the same time, the Louvre is exhibiting a 300x235cm canvas that Soulages completed in July 2000. He specifically chose Le Salon Carré to display this luminous, striated work where black- and-white lines converge on an all-black background of broad, horizontal brush-strokes.

“I picked this room because the paintings are a mixture of Byzantine and Renaissance works,” Soulages says. “I wanted to underline the rupture, not only between Byzantine and Renaissance art, but also between Renaissance figurative art and my own style.”

One would venture to describe this style as “abstract” but Soulages disagrees. “Abstract art is a general term which is incredibly vague,” he says. “I wanted to call my first painting ‘concrete’ not ‘abstract’. But people told me concrete art designates paintings made up of geometric shapes. I replied, ‘If that’s how you define ‘concrete’ art, then you better find another term for ‘figurative’ art because geometric shapes are like figures.’ ”

With these words a smile creeps on to Soulages’ lips: he knows there are some battles that are not worth fighting. A confirmed “individualist”, Soulages has never aligned himself with any art movement or school, shunning the distraction of urban mondanities, or anything that might lead him to neglect his art.

“I’ve got nothing against people who are part of a group but I don’t like being bossed around,” he says. “Groups are interesting for sociologists or historians but artistically it’s a mistake because by grouping artists together you only become focused on what they share. What did artists like Manet or Sisley have in common? Impressionism; but what’s much more interesting is what makes each unique.”

It is one of the reasons Soulages has always looked to fabricate his own painting materials. Not content with the kind of “chic material” sold in art shops for “specific purposes”, he appropriates builder’s paintbrushes, book-binding tools, tanning knives, pieces of cardboard – even the soles of his own shoes.

Meanwhile, Soulages’s fascination for the artistic possibilities of the colour black dates back even further than he can remember: “A cousin of mine, who is 100 years old, told Pierre Encrevé, the curator of this exhibition, that when I was a boy I dipped my paintbrush in the ink-well and began to paint swathes of black on a white sheet of paper. When my family asked me what I was doing, apparently I replied: ‘Painting snow’. Of course that made everyone laugh. But I was a shy child and not trying to show off. Looking back now, I think I was trying to make the white paper appear whiter by laying down the black.”

As a boy growing up in the southern French town of Rodez, Soulages liked to paint the stark black branches of leafless trees. He used to visit centuries-old caves such as those of Pech-Merle in the Lot or Font-de-Gaume in the Dordogne, where prehistoric hunting scenes worked in crushed charcoal had been made on the walls.

“It astounded me that for 340 centuries men have been painting in black in some of the most obscure places on earth, caves pitched in absolute darkness,” he says. “I wrote once that black is the colour of painting’s origin. I don’t think it’s possible to refute this.”

By his own recollection, Soulages started painting seriously in 1940. His first major exhibition was in Germany in 1948 as part of a collective of abstract painters. It was the first exhibition of abstract art in a German city since the rise and fall of the Nazis. At 27 years old, Soulages was easily the youngest artist to be exhibited. “There was Kupka, Domela, Hartung, Schneider,” he says. “[Gerard] Schneider would be 112 years old now, [Frantisek] Kupka 143 years old.”

But it was Soulages’s distinctive walnut stain painting that was chosen for the exhibition’s poster, a copy of which is on display at the Pompidou Centre. “It’s interesting because most American painters of the time got to know my work because of that poster,” he notes.

By 1954 the influential American art dealer Samuel Kootz was selling Soulages’s paintings all over the US, to large museums, but also to European expatriate filmmakers such as Billy Wilder and Otto Preminger. Such precocious success by a Frenchman was not universally welcomed by the American art world. But Soulages, who had been forewarned by the French painter and poet Francis Picabia that he would not want for enemies, shrugged it off.

“When you’re noticed very young you’re bound to have enemies; there is jealousy – it’s inevitable,” says Soulages, who last year sold a canvas for €1.5m, a record price for a living French artist. “There are also those who dislike you on an aesthetic level: people who don’t accept abstract art, for example, or who refuse to accept that you can create light on a black canvas.”

It was this last discovery, the result of an ultimately happy accident, that has sustained and nourished the past 30 years of the artist’s career. “It happened in 1979,” says Soulages, whose powers of recall are of a rare precision. “I was working on a painting and floundering around in a morass of paint, unable to understand what I was doing, but with something deep inside me compelling me to continue.”

Finally Soulages went to bed. When he woke up, what he saw “was not just a black painting any more but a painting where reflected light had been transformed and transmuted by the black surface. When I realised that light can emanate from the colour which has the biggest absence of light, I was both perturbed and profoundly moved. From that moment my eye changed and I’ve worked in this way ever since.”

The patient and deliberate way in which Soulages sets about creating continuity in his art goes hand-in-hand with his private life. Always there to give objective advice or provide le mot juste is Colette, his wife and muse of 67 years’ standing.

“I met a person with whom I have had a conversation that has never ceased,” says Soulages. “She had the same tastes as me, was interested in the same things, and we’ve continued to live together. I didn’t think it was going to last so long, but here we are.”

Earlier this year, the green light was given to a Soulages museum in the artist’s native Rodez; it is scheduled to open in 2012. For Soulages, that is just one more thing to look forward to. “I don’t live in the past,” he says. “What interests me is the next toile I want to do or the one I’m already working on.”

taken from : http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/2510df26-b462-11de-bec8-00144feab49a.html

see also : http://ow.ly/uqKW 

Soulages at the Pompidou Centre, Paris, October 14-March 8 2010.
www.centrepompidou.fr

Soulages at the Louvre, Paris, October 14-January 18 2010.
www.louvre.fr

Poe and nothing more

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Listen to Lou Reed on Poe’s poem : “The Raven” :

YouTube Preview Image

The Raven  (extrait)

Once upon a midnight dreary
as I pondered, weak and weary
over many a quaint and curious
volume of forgotten lore
while I nodded, nearly napping
suddenly there came a tapping
as of some one gently rapping
rapping at my chamber door
“‘Tis some visitor,” I muttered
“tapping at my chamber door
only this and nothing more.”

Muttering I got up weakly
always I’ve had trouble sleeping
stumbling upright my mind racing
furtive thoughts flowing once more
I, there hoping for some sunrise
happiness would be a surprise
loneliness no longer a prize
rapping at my chamber door
seeking out the clever bore
lost in dreams forever more
only this and nothing more

But the raven never flitting
still is sitting silent sitting
above a painting silent painting
of the forever silenced whore
and his eyes have all the seeming
of a demon’s that is dreaming
and the lamplight over him
streaming throws his shadow to the floor
I love she who hates me more
I love she who hates me more
and my soul shall not be lifted from that shadow
nevermoor

 


 

raven.jpg?w=240&h=300

 


 

 

 

«The Raven – Le Corbeau», par Lou Reed et Lorenzo Mattotti, trad de l’américain par Claro, Seuil, 192 p., 28 euros.

Buy Nothing Day

Saturday, November 28th, 2009

Buy Nothing Day is a great way of reminding yourself you don’t need to go shopping. In today’s world, most of us buy too much, too often. There is really no need for us to buy half the stuff we purchase. In fact, make that three-quarters, or even nine-tenths. Shopping has become an addiction  for many people. Companies are experts at making us buy stuff. TV and Internet ads can even make us buy things we don’t really want. There is a well-known bumper sticker that says: “When the going gets tough, the tough go shopping.” I would say only foolish people go shopping to reduce their stress. Anyway, Buy Nothing Day is a fantastic way to avoid crowded stores, save some money (for once) and spend time wisely.

Lots of ideas on how to spend this day are on the www.buynothingday.org website. Here, you learn that you actually help save our planet by not going shopping. You consume less and this means we use fewer of Earth’s resources. We easily run out of money when we go shopping, but we can also run out of our planet’s animals, forests, water and a lot more. The website suggests you lock your credit card away for the day and keep your cash under the bed. You will not be alone. The website says: “Buy Nothing Day is the biggest 24-hour [campaign] against consumerism. People around the world will make a pact to take a break from shopping as a personal experiment or public statement. And the best thing is, it’s free.”

Lesson here

Women in Art

Sunday, November 15th, 2009

A clever video with the most famous paintings depicting women. You’ll recognize most of them, I’m sure !

YouTube Preview Image

John Millington Synge

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

John Millington Synge ((1871-1909), poète, écrivain et accessoirement musicien, était aussi photographe. Issu de la bourgeoisie protestante irlandaise, il passa une partie de sa vie à voyager pour étudier les arts et la littérature.

En 1897, malade, il décide de vivre entre Paris et Inis Meàn, dans les îles d’Aran. Il y effectue un véritable travail d’ethnologue, sillonnant la campagne avec son appareil-photo, collectant récits et chansons à chacun de ses passages.

En 1907, il publie son livre Les Iles d’Aran, illustré par Jack Butler Yeats. Les photos prises par Synge dans les îles d’Aran entre 1898 et 1902 ne seront rassemblées et publiées qu’en 1971 dans un recueil intitulé My Wallet of Photographs aux éditions Dolmen Press.

Synges_wallet1.jpghttp://www.aran-isles.com/1224246671468_4.jpgSynges_wallet7.jpgSynges_wallet3.jpg

Synge was 27 when he went to the Aran Islands for the first time in l898, armed with l9th-century contemporary technology: a typewriter and a second-hand camera called a Klito he had bought from another visitor in Kilronan. Recovering from an operation for Hodgkin’s disease and a frustrated love affair, he was open, vulnerable and receptive. The images he took, record everyday island life – the women at the spinning wheels, the men gathering seaweed or hauling their currachs – but they also chronicle a dramatic news event, one of the last evictions on the island of an old woman turned out of her house after 30 years.

In his pictures of people, there’s an intimacy, a familiarity in the attitude towards the camera, a sense of ease in facing a friendly rather than an intruding lens. The photographs were used by Jack Yeats for his illustrations for a series of articles Synge wrote for the Manchester Guardian in June and July 1905 and the original sketch of the family on Inis Oírr now hangs in the Niland Gallery in Sligo.

“These photographs are important because they are among the first to portray the cultural revival in Ireland at the turn of the century and are among the most visual statements of Irishness from a cultural national perspective,” says Walsh, who first came across the photographs on a visit to Inis Meáin two years ago. “Synge was someone who believed that here was a reservoir of pure unadulterated Irishness, much more rooted and organic and, in a way, like an alternative lifestyle that came from the people and the elemental forces that surround them.” Other photographers of the time, he argues, did not have the same empathy, did not speak Irish, and were transients passing through with a camera, or scientists clinically recording what they perceived as a primitive way of life.

Synge was a close observer of nature and an accomplished musician who had ways of engaging with islanders and entertaining them. He could also be inconspicuous when he wanted to, and the portrait of the family on Inis Oírr, the man moving away from the woman and child, has a kind of epic grandeur, almost cinematic in its formality and setting.

He noticed details of island dress, “the local air of beauty”: the flannel trousers, the veists or báiníns, the pampooties, cowhide shoes and, of course, the red petticoats and indigo stockings “on the powerful legs” of the women. He certainly didn’t write about white cabled Aran sweaters, which did not exist then, and the idea of drowned fishermen being identified by their knitted jumpers was a later, mythical invention. Early visitors to the island were always impressed by the colour and unity of the dress, and the contrast between the farmers on Aran and those of their counterparts in Wicklow in their top hats, suits and boots could not be more striking.

L’Irlande fête les 70 ans de Seamus Heaney, poète et Prix Nobel

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

Seamus Heaney, né en 1939 en Irlande du Nord, a fêté lundi dernier ses 70 ans en compagnie du pays tout entier. L’Irlande, pays des poètes, a mis à l’honneur, lundi 13 avril, celui qui a consacré sa vie à la poésie – et a reçu le prix Nobel de littérature 1995 pour l’ensemble de son œuvre.

Elevé dans le milieu rural du nord de l’Irlande, il poursuit ses études à l’université de Belfast. Ce clivage entre racines gaéliques et culture britannique marquera profondément son œuvre.

Je vous joins une petite vidéo illustrant un de ses poèmes.

YouTube Preview Image

Edward Hopper

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Edward Hopper fait indubitablement partie des grands peintres américains du 20ème siècle. Né en 1882, dans une famille de commerçants prospères, à Nyack dans l’état de New York, Hopper s’est passionné rapidement pour la peinture, en suivant les cours du New York Institute of Art and Design

Dans ses magnifiques tableaux, on retrouve d’une part la solitude du citadin, une solitude qui semble toujours choisie mais jamais accablante, comme en témoigne le désormais célèbre Nighthawks, qui, en 1923, fit vraiment connaître Hopper ; d’autre part la paisible harmonie de la nature que lui ont inspirée ses fréquentes visites à Cape Cod, symbole historique et littéraire des Etats-Unis, puisque c’est là que les premiers pèlerins arrivèrent sur le Mayflower, en 1620, et c’est là également, ainsi qu’à Nantucket, que Herman Melville situa le début des aventures du Captain Ahab, avant d’aller pourchasser la mythique Moby Dick. Symbole artisanal aussi, puisque Cape Cod c’est, littéralement le cap de la morue, la base de la pêche jusqu’au début du 20ème siècle.Edward Hopper: Night Hawks

Hopper est aussi célèbre pour ses scènes d’intérieur, intimistes mais reflétant la solitude et l’isolement des personnages qu’il dépeint.

Edward Hopper - Automat (1927) counterforce:susurroypienso:clairefisher:darkpassenger: expectingtofly: jacobcan:

Chop Suey (Edward Hopper, 1929), Collection of Barney A. Ebsworth

Découvrez Edward Hopper !

 

 

Les lueurs de la ville et les couleurs intenses et chaudes de Cape Cod ont été reproduites avec régularité et passion par Hopper et son épouse Joséphine, qui peignait avec lui. Les tableaux d’Edward Hopper sont saisissants de douceur, de sérénité  et de simplicité, comme on peut en juger sur le lien suivant. C’est à partir des années 1950 qu’Edward Hopper a commencé à atteindre une certaine notoriété dans son pays natal. L’Europe a attendu les années 1980 pour développer un engouement à la mesure du talent de ce peintre un peu misanthrope.

Vocabulaire : présenter et commenter un texte

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Spécialement pour les Terminales en pensant au ratrappage éventuel. Je n’oublie pas les BTS qui doivent aussi présenter leur texte.

Fiche et TEST de vocabulaire ici.

Vocabulary : Link Words

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Les mots de liaison, à quoi ça sert ? En utilisant et en vous imposant d”utiliser des mots de liaison vous strucurez votre devoir et vous montrez à votre examinateur que vous ne lancez pas des idées en l’air mais que vous menez un raisonnement, que vos idées s’enchaînent.

Fiche + test ici sur les mots de liaison : pour toutes les classes. N’oubliez pas de consulter la rubrique METHODOLOGIE où des fiches téléchargeables vous attendent.

L’effort en vaut la peine !

Jane Austen : a quizz

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

Check out this quizz about Jane Austen

I’m sure you know her at least thanks to the movies adapted form her novels

Orgueil et PréjugésSense And SensibilityRaison et SentimentsEmma l'EntremetteuseNorthanger AbbeyPersuasion

Mansfield Park