From Picasso to Jasper Johns. The studio of Aldo Crommelynck / 14 november 2014 to 8 march 2015
The Soulages Museum in Rodez together with the National Library of France will pay a vibrant homage to the great printmaker Aldo Crommelynck (1931-2008), from 14 November to 8 March. The Rodez exhibition explores the story of his studio, which made Paris the world capital of printmaking. It will show some 100 works that resulted from Crommelynck’s collaboration with artists in Paris and New York, offering a rare chance to see signed prints by Richard Hamilton, David Hockney, Jim Dine and Jasper Johns.
The Rodez exhibition will include more loans than this year’s exhibition at the National Library of France, in particular a number of Picasso prints that were not shown in Paris.
Apprenticed to the master printmaker Roger Lacourière, Aldo Crommelynck opened his own studio in Montparnasse in 1956. In 1963 he and his brother Piero set up a printing press in Mougins, near Picasso’s house. The brothers’ availability inspired a frenzy of creativity in Picasso, producing some 750 prints, in particular the series of 347 etchings in 1968 and another series of
156 between 1970 and 1972. In 1969 the Crommelynck brothers’ Paris studio moved into a mansion on the rue de Grenelle.
In 1973, Richard Hamilton – drawn by the fame of Picasso’s printer – came to work there and became friends with Aldo. After that the studio began to be used by foreign artists, mostly English and Americans, such as Jasper Johns, Jim Dine, David Hockney, Peter Blake and Donald Sultan, then by other, younger artists such as George Condo and David Salle.
The Italian Trans-avantgarde artist Francesco Clemente, the German A. R. Penck and the Swiss Martin Disler also came to work there. The printer was highly rated by all these artists, who used his expertise to realise their creative
ideas, particularly his talent for acquatints and the discipline with which he helped them experiment with intaglio printing.
In 1986, after breaking away professionally from his brother, Aldo Crommelynck opened a second studio in New York. Until the end of his career in 1999 he divided his time between France and the United States, where he worked with artists such as Ed Ruscha, Chuck Close, Dan Flavin and Claes Oldenburg.
In 2010 his daughter Corinne Buchet-Crommelynck donated to the Department of Prints and Photography at the National Library of France more than 200 engravings by great contemporary artists printed by her father.
The exhibition centres on the figure of Picasso as printmaker, including many of his most important engravings that resulted from his work with Aldo Crommelynck, such as the famous Ecce Homo, after Rembrandt.
Many artists who later worked with Crommelynck paid artistic homage to Picasso: Artist and Model by David Hockney; Picasso’s Meninas, Richard Hamilton’s virtuoso and ironic print revisiting of Picasso’s work after Velásquez,
achieved using more than six intaglio processes.
The exhibition also highlights the printer’s American collaborations, offering a vital, if more confidential, side of the work of important American artists.
Among the exhibits is the series of 7 Sunliners by Edward Ruscha, prints by Jasper Johns that were used in the sumptuous book Foirades/Fizzles, based on texts by Samuel Beckett, a very subtle self-portrait by Chuck Close, as well as an acquatint and a new dry-point print by Dan Flavin. For Janette Affectionately consists of a few fine lines on a background of fluorescent
yellow which brings to mind the artist’s neon sculptures.
The works in the show were engraved in Aldo Crommelynck’s Paris and New York studios between 1982 and 1999 by 26 artists, mostly Americans or those who worked in America. Aldo Crommelynck asked each of them to sign the proofs for the National Library of France, even though the law on legal desposit did not apply to works created abroad.
The Soulages Museum presents a group of prints and engravings by Pierre Soulages in a handsome glass cabinet, which displays sheets, engravings, lithographs and silk-screen prints according to their technical invention. There are also copper plates used for etchings. In this way the exhibition From Picasso to Jasper Johns, while focusing on Aldo Crommelynck, also highlights the craft of the printer and engraver, which finds an echo in the permanent collection. An intaglio printing workshop will be set up in the museum so that visitors can learn more about the American and English painters.
AN EXHIBITION BY THE NATIONAL LIBRARY OF FRANCE
Curators of the exhibition at the National Library in Paris : Céline Chicha-Castex, curator; Marie-Cécile Miessner, honorary chief
curator; Cécile Pocheau-Lesteven, chief curator
CURATORS OF THE EXHIBITION IN RODEZ : BENOÎT DECRON, CHIEF CURATOR, DIRECTOR OF THE GRAND RODEZ
MUSEUMS; AMANDINE MEUNIER, HEAD OF COLLECTIONS
Leading figure of abstract art, Pierre Soulages is the most renowned French contemporary artist in the world. With exhibits in some 90 museums, he has created more than 1,500 works of art and held countless exhibitions around the globe.
It is to Rodez, his birthplace, that he, along with his wife Colette, has made two donations comprising nearly 500 paintings representing all of his work, from post-war oil paintings to his phase of work called Outrenoir. The colour black defines Soulages’ world but the Rodez museum will prove that his world is not just confined to black.
The first donation, ever made by a French living painter and officially signed on 13 September 2005, includes:
- Works from Pierre Soulages’ youth, representative of the « early years » 1934-1938 period.
- 21 oil paintings, a selection of works from the 1940s to the1970s, reflecting partial use, and then his complete use of black. The paintings from 1946 to 1950 are the first works showcased by Pierre Soulages himself in French exhibitions, Europe and the United-States
- 100 paintings on paper produced from 1946. This period truly marks the beginning of his abstract paintings and the new domination of black, including the invaluable ‘Brous de noix’ ( walnut stain ) , where reigns the memory of the carved standing stones now in the Rodez Museum Fenaille. Rarely represented in public collections, the works of 1946-1948 rank among the artist’s major art pieces, in the same way that the Outrenoirs did as from from 1979. The paper paintings make up a unique ensemble, incorporating the clean linear gouaches from the 70s.
- All of the prints which represent 49 etchings, 41 lithographs and 26 serigraphs. The coppers and matrices were added to the donation to help reveal the secrets of the genesis of these works.
- Three bronzes from 1975-1977, steles created from copper plates, a matrix of the engravings.
- Two paintings incrusted in glass from 1979, a cross between a painting and a sculpture.
- All of his stained glass windows preparatory work from Conques Abbey Church dating from 1987 until1994. The full-size cardboard artworks on melamine panels used as a model, notes and drawings testifying both the artistic and technical research involved in the development of the specific type of glass used.
- An important collection of documents gathered by Pierre Soulages: books, catalogues, films, archives and letters.
In November 2012, the Soulages couple made a second donation to the « Communauté d’Agglomération de Grand Rodez ». This includes 14 canvases: some carried out between 1946 and 1948, major works from 1964 and 1967, and an invaluable Outrenoir from 1986.
These donations from Pierre and Colette Soulages (in 2005 and 2012) make up the most complete display of work from the first 30 years of the artist’s creations. They demonstrate the couple’s willingness to pass on an artist’s experience, to develop the vision of a more universal creation.
Although devoted to a single artist, the museum, which showcases this donation, sees itself as a place in which to discover the techniques and mainsprings of artistic creation: Soulages’ creation of the stained glass windows in Conques forms the core.
Musée Soulages is a museum in motion; it has a vast temporary exhibition room and is designed to host events of both national and international dimension : for modern and contemporary art, architectural and theme-based frescoes from previous centuries, with other creative inventors.
Designed by the Catalan company , ‘Catalan RCR Arquitectes’ and in partnership with the company Passelac & Roques Architects and Grontmij and Thermibel design offices, the museum covers 6,600 m² and is resolutely in tune with the times. Its succession of cubes covered with glass and weather-resistant Corten steel, highlighting shades of rust, fits nicely into the surroundings. Passageways and openings offer various views of the gardens, the town and, in the distance, the Aveyron mountains.
Rafael Aranda, Carme Pigem and Ramon Vilalta, under the name of “RCR Arquitectes”, have been working together since 1988 in Olot, Catalonia. They pay careful attention to the geographical location and surrounding scenery. A quality , for which their work was awarded consultant status for Garrotxa Volcanic Natural Park (Catalonia). Their work has been praised all over the world (Punta de la Aldea Lighthouse in Gran Canaria in 1988, new Barcelona provincial courts in 2010, Hofheide crematorium in 2006, Dubaï’s Edge Business Bay in 2007).
Respectively born in 1977 and 1978, François Roques and Romain Passelac both graduated from Toulouse National School of Architecture in 2002, having studied previously in France and Spain. Before joining forces, one of the partners completed a higher educational course in Canada, and the second partner in Catalonia. Thanks to these diverse, mutual and complementary experiences, a strong and stable professional partnership was formed naturally between the two architects. It led to the creation of the Passelac & Roques Architects agency in 2004, Narbonne.
In 2008, RCR Arquitectes teamed up with the firm Passelac & Roques architects to take part in the « Communauté d’Agglomération du Grand Rodez »’s design competition for the Soulages Museum. Chosen among 98 applicants, their project placed the museum on the north side of the entirely renovated Foirail garden. They grasped the significance of the site, considering it as a link between the historic centre and the new quarters. « The museum rises up from the park, it restructures, gives order, reveals and clarifies ...” (RCR Arquitectes ).
Respectful of its surroundings, the building is organised in a succession of parallelepiped volumes (cubes). The intervals remind the passerby of the « fenestras » in Aveyron, which offer a view of the horizon and favour contemplation. Orientated towards the garden, the south wall does not exceed three meters whilst on the the north side of the site , the ‘boxes’ are overlooking a pathway.
The cladding is made of Corten steel also known as weathering steel. When exposed to the weather (corrosion), this material a protective layer of rust is created.. « The Corten steel, ages with time, and perfectly suits the park’s natural surroundings. It is not a lifeless and asceptisized material. Furthermore, its colour-range echoes Rodez’s pink grey colours. » (RCR Arquitectes) The shades of this steel also reflect Pierre Soulages’ work.
An integral part of the building, the creative cuisine brasserie owned by award-winning chefs Sébastien and Michel Bras, offers a happy-medium concept of bistronomy and gastronomy, in keeping with the spirit of Soulages’ work.
Les Brous de noix, artwork on paper
The donation represents nearly 100 paper paintings including the invaluable Broux de noix. Begun in the middle of the 1940s, they highlight a technique specifically used by craftsman and express Soulages’ early and very own conception of abstraction. Rarely exhibited in public collections, the works of the 1946s-1948s rank among the artist’s major art pieces, in the same way the Outrenoirs did right from 1979. The paper paintings make up a unique ensemble, which leads up to the clean linear gouaches from the 70s.
“I wanted to choose amongst paintings from the early years », explains Pierre Soulages.
The selection covers a period from 1946 to 1970.
Starting from a partial to a total covering of the canvas in black, the artist works with transparency: he scrapes the material; uncovering, revealing backgrounds with blues, reds and browns…
Soulages has a profound and confirmed interest in creating multiples, and in reproductions. The printed works (etchings, lithographs, serigraphs) represent an entire part of his work. Progressing by experimentation, the artist accepts chance and also accidents. The engravings’ on printed copper matrices blend with the printed sheets, not forgetting sculptures, which also make up the collection.
The Conques adventure
Conques Abbey is renowned worldwide as a masterpiece of Romanesque art.
The abbey boasts a majestic tympan , which is in fact a didactic sculpture, a colossal vault… and of course the stained glass windows. These stained glass windows created by Pierre Soulages were commissioned by the French Government in 1986. « I did not particularly want to design stained glass windows . And then , I was offered Conques » explains the artist to the medievalist historian Jacques Le Goff.
« I often visited Conques during my childhood - I was born in Rodez. It’s in Conques that I experienced my first artistic emotions. » The Abbey project was completed in April 1994 and, in spite of the contemporary style of the 104 stained glass windows created by Soulages, they befit humbly and harmoniously the Romanesque architecture.
1st July – 31st August
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Jardin du Foirail
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