MUCEM Marseille

13002 Marseille

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artists & participants


press release

30.10.2019 - 17.02.2020

On the eve of commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the death of Jean Giono (October 2020), the Mucem presents via some 300 works and documents a retrospective that goes far beyond the simplified image of the Provencal writer. Following the progression of his written and filmed work, it reveals his darkness, courage and universality. Giono was a poet who had returned from the mass graves of the First World War and was as committed to describing the depth of evil as to finding its antidotes: creativity, work, pacifism, friendships with painters, nature as a refuge, and escapes into the imaginary.

To flesh out one of the most prolific artists of the 20th century, almost all of his manuscripts, presented here for the first time, enter into a dialogue with many works and documents: family and administrative archives (including those relating to his two incarcerations); items of photographic reportage; press pieces; first editions; annotated books; sound and film interviews, as well as all of the writer's workbooks; films made by him or that he produced and scripted; cinematographic adaptations of his work by Marcel Pagnol and Jean-Paul Rappeneau (not to mention the animated film by Frédéric Back, The Man who planted trees); the naive paintings of the mysterious Charles-Frédéric Brun who inspired him The Deserter; the entirety of his frightening Journal held during the Occupation; and the paintings of his painter friends, including first and foremost Bernard Buffet.

These tangible traces of life and creativity will be doubled up with the symbolic evocation of a matrix experience of the oeuvre entrusted to four contemporary artists. Firstly, there is that of Giono, the simple soldier lost in the maelstrom of war, without which neither the books, the pacifist commitment, the incarcerations, nor the political polemics that punctuate and obscure his progress, logically opens the exhibition with an immersive installation by Jean-Jacques Lebel. Then comes a vision of Provence, far from the folkloric clichés, incarnated via the works of the plastic artist Thu Van Tran and the filmmaker Alessandro Comodin. Finally, the visual artist Clémentine Mélois revisits the library of Giono, this place of freedom and breath, which is at the heart of her life just as much as it is central to the exhibition.

—Curation: Emmanuelle Lambert, writer —Consultant: Jacques Mény, president of the Société des amis de Giono —Scenography: Pascal Rodriguez —Catalogue: a co-publication with éditions Gallimard

As part of the Year of Giono, with the city of Manosque / DLVA