French bronze sculpture for sale at Genty Fine Art
Living and working in France for ten years, I have had the good fortune to discover many exceptional artists while running an artists’ residency and exhibition programme in the idyllic medieval village of Vouvant in the rural west. I travelled throughout France visiting exhibitions, galleries and artists’ studios, searching for ‘les vrais’. Many of these ‘vrais artistes’ have steered clear of the French gallery system, where tortured, ugly, neo- expressionism and banal ‘so what’ ‘official’ conceptual art seem to have become the accepted norm.
The gallery has a wide stock of French bronze sculptures and paintings.
Here I’d like to tell you more about one of ‘my’ artists, my favourite French sculptor, and great personal friend, Jean-Claude Mathieu.
The sculptor Jean-Claude Mathieu was trained in the classical tradition of French sculptures which can be traced back to Rodin. Currently Mathieu is working with François Cacheux, perhaps France’s most respected living figurative sculptor, to complete a series of ten statues of major political figures for the city of Montpellier. While the budget for the public sculptures is in the millions, his own bronzes still currently sell for modest amounts. These are the very best of contemporary figurative French sculptures.
I recently spent time with Mathieu at his studio in France discussing his 'démarche', his point of departure, his aims and his ideas on figuration in general, and his influences.
Mathieu told me he believes, “La beauté n’existe pas. Il faut vivre la beauté pour en avoir conscience.” For him, the process of sculpting is the actual living of beauty, the means by which beauty can be truly realised. To receive beauty one has to forget the self, to empty the mind in order to see, and then use the mental to translate what one has received. Hence, it is essential to always work with the model in order to be able to capture the immediate, to make a fresh discovery every time. One cannot work from memory or imagination as this is already in the past. One must always see the totality, and the detail in relation to the totality. Mathieu lives what he sees. In this moment of attention the self is forgotten. It is a state of meditation, with a sensation of the physical. In this state there is no division.
Mathieu is full of humility. He says “ je ne veux rien prouver”, he has nothing to prove, simply the desire that “one sees in his work the rhythm and harmony of nature, and beauty which is beyond definition.”
Mathieu works with a new model over several sessions to see if the model can hold a pose and if she/he can give of her/himself. Several drawing sessions help put the model at ease and help find the pose he wants. One has to find a pose which corresponds to the model. In fact, the model effectively proposes the pose. The pose must correspond to and capture the character/psyche of the model. The model must give of herself, be aware of the body and give of the body. The model makes the sculpture. The best model is ‘genereux’. When generous of herself, the process flows; it is like a gentle breeze or music. For example, recently working with a dancer, Florent, the work poured out of him.
He has worked with some models for ten years. Pieces can be revisited over a long period. He has been working on the large sculpture Le Rencontre, for example, for over three years, revisiting it always with the model. I have this bronze sculpture for sale in an edition at 96 cm high at Tygerʼs Head at the moment.
Mathieu sees the sculpting process as happening from the inside to the outside. It is as if there is a seed which is allowed to grow through him. This is the exact opposite of starting with a block of stone and chipping, chiseling away to ‘reveal’ the sculpture.
Then there is mastery of technique. Technique translates the moment of living beauty. Technique must be in the service of nature, of the life which animates the world. One must have so mastered one’s technique as to be unaware of it. Mastery of technique gives freedom. Drawing is the essential skill. Sculpture is but drawing in space. This is where Mathieu takes issue with art schools thinking that they can teach creativity and dispense with technique. For Mathieu, creation cannot be taught....it is a state of oneself. Technique translates creation to the visible.
One can see Mathieu is clearly in the figurative tradition......a tradition which has never ceased. In fact, there has been no ‘rupture’ as the avant-garde and contemporary art world would have us believe.......just as there has been no ‘progress’ in art, a post- enlightenment scientific concept inappropriate to art. Mathieu sees those artists who think they are making ʻprogressʼ as people who are simply amusing themselves.
Born in 1951, Mathieu studied at the Beaux Arts at Reims (1968-1970) where he was taught by Léopold Kretz and Charles Auffret. He then moved on to the college of Arts Décoratifs in Strasbourg (1970-1971) to work under François Cacheux. Between 1971 and 1978 he worked in the studio of Corbin – Cardot, at the Beaux Arts in Paris. In search of more tradition and technique he worked at several sculpture ‘schools’ in India.
Mathieu has designed and made his own ‘machine’ for enlarging sculpture which he set up in his atelier in the Vendée in 1980. The machine is like a 3D artograph machine made with bicycle wheels, steel wires and weights. Making enlargements for other sculptors has been his bread and butter. It has also meant he has examined very closely the work of others. Having this ability means that Mathieu has pieces of varying sizes which he has enlarged for himself. Mathieu has recently established his atelier in Colmar near Strasbourg. My gallery has a wide selection of these bronze sculptures for sale.
He has won prizes for his works and collaborated with French sculptors such as Cacheux, Kretz, Auffret, Ginioux, Gadene, in the realisation of many public monuments. His sculpture ʻHenousʼ, enlarged and cast in bronze to a height of 3.5m, was installed in Place Picasso Trélazé-Angers last October. He cites as his main influences his ‘maîtres’ Kretz and Auffret, who were in their turn influenced by Bourdelle, Maillol, Rodin, and Carpeaux.
Through my colleague Jean-Baptiste Auffret at the Galerie Malaquais in Paris, I can offer French bronze sculptures by many 20th century artists. If you are looking for a French bronze sculpture for sale contact me and I will help you.