September 23, 2007

Érik Desmazières

A post some weeks ago at John Coulthart’s excellent weblog feuilleton alerted me to a recent exhibition of the graphic works of Érik Desmazières at the Musée Jenisch in Vevey, Switzerland. My thoughts echoed John’s where he wrote that ‘the catalogue for this would certainly be worth ordering:’ a week or so later a copy had found its way to me.

Detail of 'Ville Imaginaire II' (Imaginary City #2), an etching by Érik Demazières, 1999.


Detail of 'Ville Rocheuse' (Rocky City), an etching by Érik Demazières, 1999.

This catalogue of ‘imaginary places’ contains reproductions of eighty of Demazières’ etchings, sorted into seven thematic sections: Cities, Battles, Explorations, Curiosities, Comedies, Chambers of wonders and Libraries. Under the Cities heading, for example, there are Piranesian perspectives, science-fictional vistas, and invented townscapes in the manner of 17th-Century topographical prints.

Detail of 'Jeronimo et Josephe sous un arbre' (Jeronimo & Josephine Under a Tree), an etching by Érik Demazières, 1987.


Detail of 'Des Amateurs Perplexes' (Perplexed Connoisseurs), an etching by Érik Demazières, 1993.

Demazières was born in Rabat in 1948, the son of a diplomat. He spent his childhood in Morocco, Portugal and France. Although he showed an aptitude for drawing from an early age, Desmazières first considered a career in the diplomatic service, ‘but after graduating in political science from the Institut d'Etudes Politiques de Paris in 1971 he decided to become an artist.’

Detail of 'Die Wunderkammer' (The Cabinet of Wonders), an etching by Érik Demazières, 1998.


Detail of 'Rembrandts Kunstcaemer' (Rembrandt's Art-chamber), an etching by Érik Demazières, 2007.

Although Demazières attended evening classes in printmaking directed by Jean Delpech (where his classmates included Francois Houtin), he is largely self-taught, having acquired a formidable mastery of etching and aquatint. Andrew Fitch, the print-dealer who represents Desmazieres, has said ‘Like so many great printmakers, he has learned by doing.’

Detail of 'Alphabet Imaginaire I' (Imaginary Alphabet #1), an etching by Érik Demazières, 1997.


Detail of 'Alphabet Imaginaire II' (Imaginary Alphabet #2), an etching by Érik Demazières, 1997.

The present images are details of scans of illustrations in the catalogue Érik Desmazières: Imaginary Places published by 5 Continents Editions, Milan, in collaboration with the Musée Jenisch. All are copyright © Érik Desmazières, and have been reproduced without permission, only for as long as no-one objects to their presence on this site.

Posted by misteraitch at September 23, 2007 12:46 PM

yet more wonderful things ... thanx

Posted by: tristan forward on September 23, 2007 09:04 PM

Very nice! I am a sucker for imaginary architectural vistas à la Piranesi, Bibbiena, etc. One of my favourites is Iakov Chernikov. His suprematist drawings are great but the later ones are even better. He's like a sombre, Stalinist Hugh Ferriss.

Posted by: Michelangelo on September 24, 2007 02:58 PM

Great post, I was familiar with this artist but wasn't aware of some of the works you've shown here which have become among my favorites of his. Those epic fantasy citiscapes are really inspiring.

If his interpretation of Callot's Temptation of Saint Anthony happens to be in the book and you ever get the time to scan it I would really love to see it! That is in more detail than what is shown here anyway.

Posted by: Aeron on September 26, 2007 11:31 PM

Aeron, thanks for the Fitch-Febvrel Gallery link. They have some pretty amazing stuff in store, including Martin, Bresdin, and Gunnar Norrman, whom I had never heard of.

Posted by: Michelangelo on September 28, 2007 05:38 PM

We are pleased to have had a client find us thanks to your blog, and equally, as dealers in Desmazières work for over 30 years, to see the favorable comments of your readers.
Andrew Fitch, Director
Fitch-Febvrel Gallery

Posted by: Andrew Fitch on October 10, 2007 09:22 PM

Aeron—Apologies for the belated response, but yes, four prints (i, ii, iii, iv) by Desmazières based on Callot’s ‘Temptation of St. Anthony’ are included in the book.

Andrew—many thanks for your comment—I’m very pleased to have been able to send a new customer your way.

Posted by: misteraitch on October 28, 2007 11:26 AM
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