Spirit, are you there?
The Painters of the Beyond
From june 10th to november 1st, 2020, Maillol Museum (Paris) presents the works of twenty spiritualist artists including Augustin Lesage, Fernand Desmoulin, Madge Gill and Fleury-Joseph Crépin.
Conceived and shown for the first time at the LaM - Lille Metropole Museum in autumn 2019, this group exhibition highlights the continuance of spiritualist practices and their dissemination beyond the world of painting.
Curated by Savine Faupin and Christophe Boulanger.
A spiritualist artist from the mid-20th century, collected by Jean Dubuffet, it was only after her death that all of her work was discovered. Guided by a spirit and in a trance, Madge Gill drew in ink, on the smallest roller formats to those of more than a hundred meters. Today considered a key figure in spirit art, her works can be found in the greatest European and North American collections: American Folk Art Museum (New York, USA), the Museum of Everything (UK), Arnulf Rainer collection (Austria), Damman (Switzerland), abcd/Bruno Decharme (France)…
Augustin Lesage was born in 1876 in Brittany to a family of miners. At the age of fourteen he went to work in the mines, where, in 1911, “(he) heard a voice that said clearly, ‘one day you will be a painter.’” Afraid of being considered mentally unstable, he kept this revelation to himself and began to explore spiritualism. During one seance, a message conveyed by spirits confirmed his artistic calling. Under their instruction, he made nonrepresentational drawings of spiral shapes in colored pencil. The spirits would soon tell Lesage to set his pencils aside and to work with oil paint instead. The miner followed their orders. His first canvas -very large, at 3m² _ revealed a new style,[…]
At the dawn of the 20th century, this academic painter experienced a liberating breathing space during a two-year break. From this period originated an exceptional spirits work, acclaimed by André Breton as soon as 1933. Drawings born of a trance and executed in pencil, his ectoplasmic work hints at arachnid frames, feverish faces, and oscillations dictated by his tutelary mind. Collected for more than a century, Fernand Desmoulins is now part of the collections of the Museum of LaM (France), Antoine de Galbert (France), and was shown in the last exhibition of the maison rouge (Paris): L’envol ou Le rêve de voler.