Le Provençal, dans Une Passion dans le désert d'Honoré de Balzac

© Maison de Balzac / Roger-Viollet

Balzac's house

From January 27th to April 30th 2017

Balzac’s House presents an exceptional array of works inspired by Balzac’s short story A Passion in the Desert.

A former soldier who remains scepticalafter watching a wild animal trainer’s performance explains how he met, them tamed, then loved a panther when he was lost in the Egyptian desert during Bonaparte’s campaign. Though this short story had few illustrations in the 19th century, in 1949 a luxury edition was published featuring the work of Paul Jouve, including etchings, copper matrixes, and original drawings. However the 13 paintings produced by Aillaud, Arroyo, and Recalcat in Paris in 1964 were even more spectacular. These artists founded narrative figuration, a movement which sought to draw attention to the notion of duration in art, either through the use of series or sequences, or through the flow of objects in the painting. A Passion in the Desert is the group’s first collaborative piece to make a political statement, openly criticizing consumer societies. The story, which is quite disturbing, was chosen for its anti-conformism. In fact, though Balzac doesn’t shy away from society’s flaws, he remains analytical, without judging what he observes. Following Pierre Alechinsky, Louise Bourgeois, and Dotremont, Balzac’s House continues to explore Balzac’s wide-ranging influence on artists in the past few decades.

CURATOR: Yves Gagneux, Director of Balzac House


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