Wednesday, 1 August 2018

Art Brut @ LaM

Gaston Chaissac - La Dame Oubliée, 1960

As well as Modern and Contemporary art, Lille Métropole Musée d'Art Moderne, d'Art Contemporain et d'Art Brut (LaM), has a large space dedicated to an impressive collection of Art Brut/Outsider art. Art Brut is made by autodidacts, situated either by choice, or circumstance, on the margins of mainstream culture and society. My eyes were opened on the visit to this collection because of the vision, skill and creativity of certain artists contained in this particular collection, and the innovative ways they have used the variety of (usually humble) materials in their artworks. As you scroll down you will no doubt see for yourselves what I mean. The following are pieces that I particularly enjoyed. The collection is changed every few months to protect certain artworks that are sensitive to light. If you want to find out more about certain artists/artworks in Lam's Art Brut collection, and see many more works that aren't currently on display by well known outsider artists such as Henry Darger, then you can visit the LaM website here.

Jean Dubuffet - Site aléatoire avec deux personnages F 77 - 1982

A piece by Jean Dubuffet, one of the original champions of Art Brut (above).


Two characterful portraits. Sadly I forgot to make a note of the artists.

Auguste Forestier - Maison
Auguste Forestier - Figure with an Eagle's Profile

Auguste Forestier

These small scale sculptures titled "Machines" by the outsider artist who goes under pseudonym A.C.M. were amazing. The artists name is Alfred Marié, and the "C" in his pseudonym represents his long-term partner Corinne, who was initially the biggest supporter of his work. These sculptures are created from the barest bones of the inner workings of defunct components of alarm clocks, typewriters, and transistor radios, which he corrodes with acid, lets rust, and then carefully crafts to create individual structures, like scaled down futuristic architectural models. They were one of my two favourite discoveries in LaM's Art Brut collection.

If my memory serves me right these works were by a female artist, and I thought they were absolutely beautiful. They had a sense of depth and stillness to them. They are casts of books in wax, or a resin of some sort arranged on a shelf. I think they were the works of an "artist proper" rather than an outsider artist, but do go to the LaM website to discover more about these gorgeous objects.

Another new revelation, and easily amongst the most appealing works that I most admired here along with A.C.M.'s sculptures, were these wonderfully narrative embroideries by Jules Leclercq (1894-1966). They are so beautifully executed and packed full of detail, like small scale versions of the Bayeux Tapestry, albeit much more colourful. Like many outsider artists Leclercq was interested in and influenced by the occult, suffered from mental health problems, and spent time in a psychiatric hospital. Leclercq's embroideries were outstanding to my eyes, and I feel that he deserves much wider recognition for these remarkable textiles.

Katharina Littauer-Breydert - Le Bon Pasteur, 1939

Another beautiful embroidered piece from a series by an American outsider artist (above).

All of these mosaic pieces - plaques and tables, were by Josué Virgili.

“Müller Bearded Man”, anonymous carving.

Two dreamily hypnotic works.

Emmanuel Tharin - Camion/train and car drawings

Charming, characterful toy-like sculptures by Pierre and Raymond Petit.

Another piece by contemporary outsider artist A.C.M. but on a much larger scale. This piece really was like an architectural model and cityscape. There is so much detail to admire in his work.

The huge scale of these huge wooden totem carvings/sculptures by Theo Wiesen also caught my attention. The animal faces had such character and presence.

These gates - Barrière: Homme, diable, femme - were also by Theo Wiesen and very intriguing, like Vodun artworks created and used specifically for religious rituals. Happy as I am that they have been preserved in a museum I would have also liked to see how they would have been used in their original setting and context as gates.

More detail-rich, covetable Jules Leclercq embroideries.

Louis Tourqetil - Plane/Avion with Parachute man, and Plane below.

This display of guns, immaculately crafted by André Robillard, were interesting. They invited handling as they were so tactile. I'm not much of a fan of the actual real things, but did like these colourful, stylised representations. The artist certainly appeared to be obsessed with them.

Margarethe Held - Portrait

These detailed models of trams made from metal, wood, packaging ephemera were exquisitely executed by Willem van Genk.

Having enjoyed and been really inspired by LaM's revelatory collection of Outsider art, it was time to reluctantly drag myself away, out into the summer sunshine, and back to central Lille itself. LaM and all of its art collections was a wonderful diversion, in a wonderful, lush setting.

Art Brut Collection
Lille Métropole Museum of Modern, Contemporary and Outsider Art
1 Allé de Musée