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Jean Lurçat

Papillons (Butterflies)

 

Aubusson tapestry woven by the Pinton frères workshop.
With original certificate

Lurçat’s artistic production was immense : it is however his role as the renovator of the art of tapestry design which ensured his lasting renown. As early as 1917, he started producing works on canvas, then in the 20’s and 30’s, he worked with Marie Cuttoli. His first collaboration with the Gobelins workshop dates back to 1937, at the same time he discovered the tapestry of the Apocalypse which was essential  in his decision to devote himself to tapestry design. He first tackled the technical aspects with François Tabard, then on his installation at Aubusson during the war, he established his technique : broad point, a simplified palette, drawn and numbered cartons.

 

A huge production then follows (over 1000 cartons) amplified by his desire to include his painter friends, the creation of the A.P.C.T. (Association des Peintres-Cartonniers de Tapiisserie) and the collaboration with the art gallery La Demeure and Denise Majorel, and then by his assumed role promotion the medium around the world (le Monde ?)

 

His tapestries reveal a pictorial world which is specifically decorative, with a very personal symbolic iconography, cosmogonical (the sun, the planets, the zodiac, the four elements…) stylised vegetation, fauna (rams, cocks, butterflies, chimera …) standing out against a background without perspective (voluntarily different from painting) and, in his more ambitious work, designed as an invitation to share in a poetic (he sometimes weaves quotations into his tapestries) and philosophical (the grand themes are broached from the wartime period onwards) vision whose climax is the “Chant du Monde” (Song of the World) (Jean Lurçat Museum , ancien hôpital Saint Jean, Angers) which remained unfinished at his death.

 

His journey to Brazil in 1954 was a decisive source of inspiration for Lurçat : the flora and fauna (particularly the butterflies, a recurrent theme) of the Amazon appear repeatedly : “What interests me with the butterfly, … is the extraordinary inventiveness of the interlacing forms, the sparkling colours, the total freedom of their coloration…” (Claude Faux, Lurçat à haute voix, 1962, p. 151). Butterflies on a yellow background are a motif which recurs in several cartons : “Paon de nuit”, “Copacabana”, “Papillons Marcenac”…

Bibliography :
Exhibition Cat. Jean Lurçat, Tapisseries nouvelles, Maison de la pensée Française, 1956
Exhibition Cat.. Les domaines de Jean Lurçat, Angers, Musée Jean Lurçat et de la tapisserie contemporaine, 1986
Symposium Jean Lurçat et la renaissance de la tapisserie à Aubusson, Aubusson, Musée départemental de la Tapisserie, 1992
Exhibition Cat. Jean Lurçat, Donation Simone Lurçat, Académie des Beaux-Arts, 2004
Jean Lurçat, le chant du Monde, Angers, 2007