February 25, 2022
“I appreciate only what is kept by memory” - Eugène Carrière
Kamel Mennour announce the exclusive international representation of the work of Eugène Carrière.
With Véronique Dumesnil‑Nora, Carrière's great‑granddaughter, the gallery follows in the steps of the Galerie Bernheim‑Jeune – his historical dealer who presented a first solo exhibition in February 1903 – to pay tribute and take part in the recognition of this major artist, whose work finds multiple echoes in our contemporary context.
A celebrated artist during his lifetime, equally at home among the Symbolists and the Naturalists, Carrière (1849‑1906) never ceased to elude the stylistic categories of his time, without claiming to belong to a specific movement.
Resisting all classification, this painter, engraver and draughtsman - who was the contemporary of Gustave Moreau, Odilon Redon and Paul Gauguin, among others - surrounded himself very early on with the most influential figures of the artistic and literary world of his time: Roger Marx, Jean Dolent, Alphonse Daudet, Edmond de Goncourt, Gabriel Séailles and Paul Verlaine. His friendship with Auguste Rodin marked his pictorial work which, like that of a sculptor, was inspired by tangible reality and the discovery of matter. “For him, as for his masters, painting, which is a work on the surface, gives the sensation of volume and weight. [...] In each portrait painted by Carrière lies the solid and mechanical beauty of a skeleton” wrote the journalist and art critic Gustave Geffroy in 1906.
A modernist before his time, Carrière founded the Carrière Academy in 1890 on the rue de Rennes in Paris. He taught, among others, those who were to become the Fauves: André Derain, Francis Jourdain, Henri Matisse, but also Pablo Picasso who arrived in the capital in 1901, and whose blue and pink periods are known to owe much to Carrière’s quasi‑monochrome painting.
Often compared to Vélasquez, Carrière demonstrated throughout his life a great mastery of chiaroscuro, allowing him to privilege light over colour, and to achieve a complex and mysterious play of transparency and depth. “To embellish life through art is to enrich it with our in‑depth knowledge of the relationship between man and nature”, he said. Like furtive or evanescent apparitions impossible to capture in an image, his figures seem to abstract themselves from a landscape, a background, another time‑space.
“I have only known my trade since the day I discovered that the curved line,
and not the straight line, was the contour of everything. [...]
You see, it must be drawn like the undulating lines of a plant...
And this is how a woman, a horizon, everything must be drawn.” - Carrière