VISIONARY REVUE


Bocage
BERTRAND COLLIN DE BOCAGE
at Galerie Motte, Paris 1964.


      Martin du Nord set about researching the life story of this unknown visionary, which soon became an obsessive task for him. First, some fragments from du Nord's notebooks:

Nov. 1962 - Discovered the origins of the canvases: sold to Drouot auction house by an unknown storage keeper for a few hundred francs, along with books and clothing.
6 Nov. 1962 - Acquired four large pastels from the same lot at Drouot's. One bears the mark of Mir Iskousstva - a turn of the century Saint Petersburg movement of Secessionist painters.
Dec. 1962 - Interview in Brussels with Le Roy, the gallery owner where Kalmakoff had his exhibition. Old, lethargic, grumbling, Le Roy remembered nothing.
29 Dec. 1962 - Met Nicolai Fabergé, 83 years of age. He remembered going with his uncle to visit Kalmakoff twenty years ago at his room on rue de la Rochefoucauld. After visiting all the hotels on the street, I found no one who could remember the painter.
24 Jan. 1963 - After placing a notice in la Pensée russe, I was contacted by Madame Evreinoff, who remembered meeting Kalmakoff in the Baltic countries between 1923 and 1928. It seems he was active in the theatre in St. Petersburg before the First World War.
End Jan. 1963 - The unknown storage keeper has been identified: a Monsieur Walbaum. After being put in storage in 1927, Kalmakoff's works remained untouched for the next thirty-four years. Finally, Walbaum had them appraised. According to the art expert, 'they weren't worth a cup of cider.'
28 Jan. 1963 - A turning point. Interview with the painter Ivanov who knew Kalmakoff well, but only in Paris and then only till 1942, when they parted company. Ivanov recalled that Kalmakoff died in a hospice outside Paris.



 
 
 


PARIS - SPRING 2004


du Nord
GEORGES MARTIN DU NORD
Both de Bocage and du Nord
have since passed away.

early Feb. 1963 - The hospice has been identified: Chelles, where Kalmakoff stayed from 1951 until his death in 1955. No account of his last days.
3 April 1963 - The hole between 1942 and 1951 has been filled. Met with Madame S. Kalmakoff's last intimate. Learned many details about his life, and acquired 18 new canvases.(KALMAKOFF, L'Ange de l'Abîme, 1873 - 1955 et les peintres du Mir Iskousstva, Musée-galerie de la Seita, Paris, 1986. Henceforth, this catalogue will be refered to as KAL. All translations from the French are by the author.)

      After lying in darkness and obscurity for thirty-seven years, Kalmakoff's works were finally exhibited at Galerie Motte Paris in February of 1964. This led to the discovery of twenty-four new works in Metz - including an entire series which once decorated a chapel dedicated (ironically) to the resurrected called Chapelle Fortin du Résurrectoire. Four years later, another exhibition followed at Galerie Jacques Henri Perrin.
      Finally, in May of 1986, a large exhibition of his collected works was organized by Musée-galerie de la Seita, resulting in the colour monograph: KALMAKOFF, L'Ange de l'Abîme, 1873 - 1955. A documentary film by Annie Tresgot (also called L'Ange de l'Abîme) provided interviews with Kalmakoff's contemporaries. Through these various sources (all in French), a shadowy and fragmented picture of the recluse emerges.
      And yet, the works themselves - many of them self-portraits - invite a myriad of speculations onto the artist's life and his very unique view onto the world. Did his spiritual ideals drive him towards an extreme asceticism, which then had the contrary effect of releasing onto his canvases a rich profusion of repressed eroticism, effeminism, misogyny and narcissism - culminating in delusions of Satanhood and even Godhood? The enigma of his life and works remains unsolved - a labyrinth into which the speculative writer (and curious reader) wanders at his own risk...



 
 
 


<--LAST PAGE

 


NEXT PAGE -->

 
 


HOME

 


EDITORIAL

 


KALMAKOFF:
THE FORGOTTEN
VISIONARY

 


VISIONARY
ART
IN FRANCE

 


ERNST FUCHS
SPEAKS

 
 


KALMAKOFF
GALLERY

 


FRENCH
VISIONARY ART
GALLERY

 


MATI
KLARWEIN
REMEMBERED

 


KALMAKOFF
LINKS

 


FRENCH
VISIONARY ART
LINKS