To start… it is always a little difficult… one wonders what with ! Death, and what followed…, or the awakening thirty-two years later… ; we will not talk about resurrection, or at least not yet; the night in the grave was quite long for a whole life, but only an instant for forgetful death.
When I received an e-mail from Marc Duvillier on February 24th, 2012. It read thus :
I take the liberty to write to you, my name is Marc Duvillier.
I am the grand-son of the painter René Duvillier, who was championed in particular by art critic Charles Estienne who himself championed the work of your father, the sculptor Marc Boussac.
I had the opportunity to see some sculptures by your father during the exhibition for which I worked as scientific collaborator : Abstract Art as Adventure : Charles Estienne, Art critic in the 1950s in the Museum of Fine Arts of Brest, from July to November 2011.
It took me some time to trace you, so now I’m writing to you.
Do you ever come to Paris, or to France ?
I did not imagine that the search for Marc Boussac’s buried work would lead to its coming out of its tomb-sarcophagus in rue Saint-Jacques in Paris, opposite the Saint-Jacques Institute, on November 24th and 25th.
Everything started in June 1982, when, on his death-bed, my father told me, about his work : “You’ll see what happens.” To tell the truth, nothing much happened. Thieck had said: “We have to do something, in ten years he’ll be forgotten.” And indeed he does seem forgotten… I did try to phone Bideau, but he couldn’t be reached. Too bad, “We’ll see.”
It will have taken a thirty-year wait for something to happen, for, after Marc’s e-mail, here comes another one, from A.B., the dealer’s son. He is after a Jan Krizek sculpture whose existence I was not aware of.
So the concomitance of these two e-mails persuades me to phone Jim. I tell him this story and he answers: “Your father gave me the Krizek sculpture in 1972. A few years ago I lent it to Jaouen for an exhibition in Rennes, I haven’t seen it since… Maybe it was in the Brest exhibition?” He gives me Marie-Hélène’s phone number.
Easter 2012, in Paris, meeting with Marc, Marie-Hélène and then Jim, in order to find the cellar he had given us so we could store the content of the studio back in 1982, during the Christmas rush. In 2012 it was raining and it was impossible to have access to it.
After an exchange of letters and other e-mails, we are agreed to go to this cellar in rue Saint-Jacques in November 2012, on the weekend of the 24th and 25th.
So rendezvous with Marc, Nicolas, Monique and Pascal, Marie-France will join us later.
“No, this is not the place where everything was stored, let’s go away… it was on the second underground level, not the first.” Then behind all the jumble, we slide a hand and there it was all, a huge shambles, we have to rent a van, to take everything out in thirty-year old dust. Plasters… small ones, large ones, some all white, some dirty, some broken, some carefully wrapped, or not, naked figures, abstracts, plasticized papers, the magazine “Chroniques de l’Art Vivant“ n°6, that I thought I had, where an artistic suicide had been committed, newspaper clippings in which we’ll learn what is in the biography, and so on…
It could all have stayed in that state for another thousand years, but once it had been discovered, it had to be put in yet another cellar, before a solution could be found for this inventory.
As a non-conclusive conclusion, I would like to hand over to Marc, whose e-mail dated December 25th 2013 tells us how long the way still is :
“Dear Pascal, Nicolas and Marie-France,
Pascal’s text recalls the beginning of this encounter, of this rediscovery of Marc Boussac’s work, a work which is very singular, unique in its way, with a very subtle poetry, and which testifies to a ceaseless exciting exploration of matter and shapes, and also to an astounding mastery of a whole array of different techniques, down to miniature painting.
A work which keeps astonishing us and provoking our enthusiasm.
The Brest exhibition, Abstract Art as Adventure : Charles Estienne, Art critic in the 1950s, beside having to be prepared rigorously, was important to me, of course, in regard to (and for) my grandparents who had often told me about Charles Estienne and the artists of this era, who were often marginals.
This sort of exhibition makes it possible for the works of lesser-known artists (such as Loubchansky, my grandfather, Krizek…) to be exhibited next to those of more famous ones.
And then there were those plasters by Marc Boussac, exhibited in a glass case… and they intrigued me not a little…
This exhibition has made some encounters possible, and I am quite pleased with this, for, at the end of the day, this is what an exhibition should always be about : an encounter ! (and not about stupidly hanging works onto walls).
Fate is strange, and the most intriguing is that Pascal and Monique were in Brest during the exhibition, but did not see it ! And then we nearly failed to discover what the cellar rue Saint-Jacques held in store, and nearly went away…
The web-pages and the site that Pascal is preparing will be fantastic, and we have to think about museums (or foundations, or other such places) likely to be interested in this work and ready to organize an exhibition, to publish a catalogue and to accept a donation of part of the work if you so decide.
See you very soon
Merry Christmas and happy New Year,
You can discover Marc Boussac’s work using the following link :