La pluie et le beau temps (rain and fine weather)

Aubusson tapestry woven in the Pinton workshop, for the Compagnie des Arts Français.

A painter and engraver, Lucien Coutaud also worked in the theatre with Dullin, Barrault and designed numerous sets and costumes. However it was his encounter with Marie Cuttoli  in 1933 which would introduce him to tapestry : she mainly commissioned seat cover designs. Most of the tapestries that followed were woven in the Pinton workshop for the Compagnie des Arts Français, whose main aim was to integrate tapestry as an element of interior decoration. The last 3 tapestries designed by the artist in 1960 are a tribute to his notoriety because “Jardins exotiques” was chosen to decorate the 1st class saloon on the “France” transatlantic liner.Elements of his work as a set designer, influenced by surrealism, are discernible in Coutaud’s woven art : the world he illustrates is figurative yet stylised (shapes are angular and harsh) contained in a dream world often incorporating unusual borders.

A war-time commission from Jacques Adnet for the Compagnie des Arts Français, ‘la pluie et le beau temps » (rain and fine weather) seems a world away from those grim times : the menacing sharp-edged designs of the later tapestries are not yet present and we find ourselves in a more harmonious (between Man and the Natural World) and peaceful world which is a little redolent of Botticelli’s “Spring” with an added touch of surealism in the incarnation of the flower-woman which would be reproduced by Coutaud in his “Jardins Exotiques” (Exotic Gardens) woven in 1960 for the ocean liner “France”.

10 copies were made of which one is in the collection of the Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris (acquired in 1947, after the 1946 exhibition “la Tapisserie Française du moyen âge à nos jours” in which it was displayed).

Bibliography :
J. Cassou, M. Damain, R. Moutard-Uldry, la tapisserie française et les peintres cartonniers, Tel, 1957, ill. p 87
Multi-authored, Le grand livre de la Tapisserie, Edita, 1965, ill. p.175
Exhibition catalogue Lucien Coutaud, œuvre tissé, Aubusson, Musée Départemental de la Tapisserie, 1988-1989, illustrated p 23
Exhibition Cat. Decorum, Musée d’Art moderne de la ville de Paris, 2013-2014, ill. p.13