mardi 1 octobre 2013

Fresques historiques d'Andelot IV / Andelot historical murals IV

Here is another one...I installed it by mid-July. This is one more astonishing example of the richness of the history of this small community.
Around 1432 , after Joan of Arc'c trial and execution , two "chevaliers" of Andelot where commissioned to take part to the Joan's rehabilitation trial.
In these times Andelot was in fact the official legal center of a vast territory which included Domrémy, Joan's home town ...where she grew up, as a shepherdess, and heard her "voices" ( God telling her to go help Charles IV become king and kick our british neighbours out of french kingdom !)
The two men rode to Domrémy and gathered information about Joan's life and personality  from different local witnesses.
Their report said that Joan was certainly not a witch and on the contrary a good christian. This of course  was not what Joan's opponents ( led by the bishop Cauchon) wanted to hear and the local authority, the Bailly of Chaumont ( larger city ruling over Andelot ), was not happy at all with the chevalier's report.

I have represented this confrontation , on one side the chevaliers and their men, on the other the Bailly and some priests or bishops and their guards.
In the background, Joan in the middle of a furious battle , in the foreground the chevaliers riding to Domrémy...
My source of inspiration for the composition was a marvelous painting by Albert Herter.

Friday morning , 9 am; I have stapled up the whole canvas on the plywood panels and am about to start applying the glue on the right half.

Around 11 am, I have had a hard time installing this one but I did it.

After installing another mural in some other part of the village I came back on the evening and took a picture without the scaffolding in front.

A proud soldier

An old dude and a curious soldier

The two chevaliers of Andelot

The chevaliers galloping towards Joan's place.

Joan of Arc, legendary.

Joan's home in Domrémy, I remember visiting this house when I was a kid. This is a special place in our history; this weird green stands for the "strangeness" of this whole story and the reds and oranges for the flames of Joan's pyre.

The confrontation.

mardi 23 juillet 2013

Fresques historiques d'Andelot III / Andelot historical murals III

...and the story goes on like this.
As the Treaty of Andelot really is the most important event that took place in this village we decided to have several murals about it.
Since we had the treaty itself illustrated on Place Cantarel ( main square in the village) , its "essence"or symbolical content represented in the town hall , we decided to create two murals in the next biggest square of the village, called "Place de l'Auditoire Royal".
I proposed to represent the situation "before" and "after" the treaty.

Here is the "before" mural:

The period that preceeded the date of the signature of the treaty is characterized by a series of conflicts, murders, treasons and unstable alliances which finally laid the ground for wishes of peace and reforms.
The most important rivals of this tormented age were
-  the queen of Austrasie ( kingdom of the East) called Brunhilde or Brunehaut ( Wagner's walkyrie Brunehilde was named after this queen!)
-  the queen of Neustrie ( kingdom of the north-west) named Fredegonde.
My compostion is thus based on the representation of these famous women , of scenes of battles , the background being a map that shows how the territories were divided and broken down into separate units.
In the foreground , the names of all the royal families individuals who died and were killed.

Here are pictures of the upper and lower part of this mural on the walls on my studio:

...and a couple of close ups on the lower part...

And now the story of my two versions of Brunehilde .

Here is what my first version looked like (it was in fact inspred by a cool picture of Keira Knightley in King Arthur, I just made her face a little less "Hollywood")

but the historians I am in contact with told me that even though pretty good looking and sexy she was really too "dungeon and dragons" and that it was really hisotirically uncorrect to have her was represented actually fighting , that is holding a I took a couple of pictures of my "lady' and started to modify her on Photoshop. I started with the head wear , removed the bow...etc...

and ended up with this new version of Queen Brunehilde.
She is still a little "Hollywood" but more historically accurate.
My whole business as an artist on this project really is to try and keep both ends , not too far from scientific accuracy, not too far from legend and imagination.

The installation of the canvases , my friend Hubert Pintrand working on the connection between the two parts :


                                                            ...and finishing up the job.

A nice crowd of people on "Inauguration day", last July 13th.

The sound system is temporarily installed on the mural, it will be put on the sides later on.

lundi 8 juillet 2013

Fresques historiques d'Andelot II. Andelot historical murals II.

Here is now the only indoor murals of this project.
This wall in the town hall's entryway was the one that the mayor wanted to decorate initially.
At some point I had planned to paint a different version of the signature of the treatee but finally I decided to use the models I had worked from for the large outdoor mural and to put the focus on the essential elements of this historical event :
_ the territories  : the map
_ the people
_ the names of the kings and queen : Gunthram, Childabar,Brunehild
_ the treaty : as the original document has not bee entirely saved I have copied a XVth century document whose illustration shows the meeting between the two kings. It has been painted for french king Charles VII by Jean Fouquet, one of the first french painters who used the laws of perspective according to the italians painters of early Renaissance.

All the outdoor murals are painted in acrylics ; this one is a "mixed media" painting , the figures are in oils, the rest of the painting in acrylics.

dimanche 30 juin 2013

Les fresques historiques d'Andelot I . Andelot's historical murals I.

Four years ago, as I was exhibiting at MAISON ET OBJET a man stopped on my booth and introduced himself.
He was the mayor of a small community in the east of the country and was looking for a mural artist to paint a new decor in his town hall entryway. He had a surface of 2X2 m and and intended to illustrate a local historical event :
the oldest peace treaty we have kept track of in the history of our country had been signed in his village in 587
The place is named Andelot and the treaty known as the "Traité d'Andelot".
We talked a little bit about the project and I said I would call him back after having made researches and a sketch.

As I had just spent a couple of weeks painting with famous public artist William Cochran I was still full of the numerous and rich conversations I had had with William . My views on public art had been very vague so far . 
With William I learnt that public art could be a real asset for a community. It could bring people together , it could give people a sense of belonging to a special place and consequently foster local energies and creativity. It could make a very ordinary place attractive for other people, for tourists, and eventually lead to  economical growth and business development.
All this lead me to tell this mayor that he had a great story to tell ( the treaty, even though it does not belong the major events of our history has been tought in schools for  decades) and that it deserved more than 2x2m , that if he had an exterior wall where I could paint, this would be worth it.

He got back to me very quickly, I drove to his place and we examined different possibilities.
We decided that the best place for the mural was this one ,

in the very center of the village, right by the school( the building with white windows and shutters) and on the square were local small businesses and shops had been forever, an ideal location! 

I started researching seriously and produced the first sketches. The idea is simply to illustrate the day the treatee was signed . 
King Gontran, seated on the left , welcomes King Childebert and his mother Brunehilde. The treatee will put an end to a period of wars and murders it will also lay the ground for harmonized rules of commerce and a new relationship between the aristocrats and the kings.
A XV th century manuscript mentions and  illustrates it ; I had the idea of using as a background for  the figures, this was the very first idea:

 ,then, for a pedagogical sake, I decided to put a map that shows the territorial division and locates, on the frontier between Bourgogne and Austrasie, the little city of  Andelot.
At the bottom, I wrote the very first line of the original treaty in which one can recognize the names of the protagonists, Gunthram, Childabartus, Brunechildis and even the name of the village "andelaum". 

details of the sketches of the figures ( many are borrowed and adapted from XIXth century painters such as Laurens and Benjamin Constant)

The sketches were approved by the mayor and his community council .

But then, the mayor started telling me that other historical events had taken place in or around this village :
- the discovery of an important neolithic settlement
- two major roman roads that crossed a couple miles away from the village and the presence of the largest amphitheater and gallo-roman mosaic in Grand ( 12 miles away)
-  two local "chevaliers"  had taken part in the second trial of Joan of Arc
-  a manifesto written by Gaston d'Orleans, son of Henry IV, who temporarily settled down in Andelot in 1632 and stated his political opposition to his brother Louis XIII and Cardinal Richelieu
-  a major peasant's riot had occured in the local valley ( Val rognon) by the end of Louis XIV's reign and was said, by certain historians to be a foresign of french revolution
- Andelot was also the birthplace of a quite well known composer of the XVIIIth century, Pignolet de Montéclair 
-  in 1945,Andelot had been freed, by french 2émé DB of Général Leclerc, from german occupation during  of one of the most important panzer battles of the time 
- !!!!!!!
After telling me all this, he added that he had started searching for funding and that he thought the program would probably grow from one single mural to ten or twelve !!!
All this took some time and to make a long and complicated story short , here we are, thanks to the incredible energy of Jean-Philippe Geoffroy, the mayor, money has come and we are now talking about  a twelve murals program.
Each mural will be lit and some of them will have an audio system with a commentary recorder by famous french actors.
Two of them , Michel Galabru and Eric Cantona ( former soccer superstar) read the commentaries of the frist frescoes, other big names are about to participate to the project.

Here are pictures of the first one, " Signature of the "Traité d'Andelot", place Cantarel.

 I worked on this project with mural artist Hubert Pintrand, one of the most experienced and talented mural painters in the country and one apprentice Stéphane Leneuf helped us in the studio.

Beginning of the installation, the canvas was nailed on the wall, one half folded over, we are on this picture applying the glue on the left half ( around 10am)

French mural artist Hubert Pintrand, my "right arm" on this project.

marouflage of the canvas.

Lower canvas installed.

Upper section installed ( around 2 pm)

The energetic mayor, Jean-Philippe Geoffroy arriving from Paris where he had recorded Eric Cantona for the "Charlemagne" mural .