2016 acquisitions


Katerina Jebb
Balthus Tomb, 2011

Katerina Jebb, Balthus Tomb, 2011


Katerina Jebb is an entirely self-taught artist who got to grips with the photographic medium at the age of 26. She addressed it in an experimental way and built up her work in part based on photomontage. Following a car accident that prevented her from using her arms for a while, she learnt to delegate the shooting to machines, photocopiers initially, then scanners and printers, from the simplest to the more sophisticated. In full command of her limbs today, she continues to use these processes that give her work a strange and disconcerting aesthetic, that she has also developed for several years through films and video performances.
Her collaboration with the world of fashion is a major part of her work. She has among others worked for the fashion house Christian Lacroix and has an ongoing relationship with the Japanese brand Comme des Garçons. Likewise, her interventions in museums were until now restricted to institutions connected to fashion, like the Palais Galliéra and the Arts décoratifs in Paris. However, she has pursued more personal research leading her, over several years, to artist studios and archives, and that deserves the attention of a museum of contemporary and fine art.
La tombe de Balthus was thereby produced over the course of a photographic inventory with the studio of the painter Balthus as subject, during her Swiss residency.
This inventory in the shape of images, produced over several years, marks a key moment in the artistic process of the photographer, seeking to free herself from form to obtain a certain level of abstraction in the detail of an incomplete painting or in widespread pigment residue, offering a new way of fathoming the discipline. The hyperrealism of the depiction obtained by digitilisation renders the objects disturbing, reminiscent of Marcel Duchamp’s ready-mades. All are linked to the intimacy of the artist – brushes, tubes of paint, spatulas and flasks stand out against a background that is often grey, in any case always united – and are printed with the hand of Balthus. Remains, traces of DNA on the last cigarette ends stubbed out in the ashtray of old, an apparition of Balthus thereby emerges from these images as far as the digitilisation of his grave, the grand finale of the series. Back to eternity, the fusion of the body with the natural elements the plant vitality of which devours everything. The only indication of human presence is the headstone marked ‘BALTHUS’. The serendipitous apple that has fallen right there, already decomposing, completes the painting perfectly lending it the air of a vanitas.

Jean-François Bauret (1932-2014)
Silver print from the Isabelle series (1986)

Jean-François Bauret (1932-2014), Isabelle, 1986 © J.F Bauret

From the 1950s, Jean-François Bauret focussed on photography with Richard Avedon as his mentor, influencing his penchant for portrait. He produced many advertising campaigns, some of which left a lasting impression, as well as portraits that became famous, like the one of Serge Gainsbourg.
The photographer always gave his models free rein to express their personality, stating that ‘The people that I photograph should not stay passive, I call upon their creativity so that they co-author my imagesIt’s a part of myself that I explore through them, asking them to express what I’m incapable of expressing myself’. This stance, a form of photographic credo, is clearly enshrined in the question of the relationship between the artist and his model, that Jean-François Bauret explored throughout his life.
He was a regular at the Rencontres d’Arles, with two solo exhibitions in 1977 and 1992 – the latter held at the Musée Réattu – and led many courses between 1977 and 1989.
He was no stranger to Arles yet did not feature in the museum’s collections. His wife, Claude Bauret-Allard, wanted to fill this gap upon the artist’s death by donating a large format work from the
Isabelle series to the City of Arles. This work was displayed, with other photographs by the artist lent for the occasion, at the beginning of 2016 to the museum for the exhibition Imago, dedicated to photographic portraiture.
The series 
Isabelle, regarded as a long composition of fixed movements in front of a screen stripped of all adornment–a staging typical of Bauret –, captures the energy emanating from the woman’s body, a former yoga teacher. This is a true performance in the sense ascribed to it in contemporary art, and not dance or a theatrical performance: there is no choreography or scenario to speak of, the movements are unplanned, let alone dictated by the photographer. Spanning more than a year, the photo sessions follow the model’s gradual liberation as she explores the full potential of her gestures and the suppleness of her body in poses that move beyond typical aesthetic canons. Emphasised by an understated play on light, these poses in turn highlight the angular groove of the backbone, the entangled limbs and the intimate geometry of this body sculpted by yoga, sometimes erring on abstraction.

Germaine Pratsevall
An outstanding donation

Germaine Pratsevall, Sans titre, 1990


Germaine Pratsevall is an unusual artist. Her teaching profession distanced her to a certain extent from the gallery circuit and museographical institutions bar a few exceptions managing to convince her to exhibit in their premises or to introduce the occasional piece to their collections. She needs to be really convinced to exhibit her work. When you meet her, you meet a pure creator, for whom painting is a vital necessity. Since 2004, her health has prevented her from working and this is a source of great frustration. She is known to say that since 1979, she has only done ‘a single painting’. Her work should be regarded as inseparably linked. She says: ‘I would like to see them all together, but it is not possible, they will retaliate.’
Germaine Pratsevall is a woman of memory, true to artistic friendship, so when the question arose as to the future of her work, she naturally turned to the Musée Réattu that held her first institutional exhibition in 1986. For this exhibition, the artist donated one of the works to the museum, a large format (124 x 42 cm) typical of her work, perforated and painted rag paper.
The artist has donated about 300 paintings to the museum that were created between 1979 and 2004 (spanning the full period of her work as a painter) as well as a collection of prints (almost 130 pieces), a technique through which she expressed herself from 1967 to 1978. If today, she totally dismisses these prints, that she does not wish to be exhibited, she understands the museum’s mission to document her work as a whole and permits it to be made available to researchers. This extremely prolific artist produced over 700 paintings. As already stated all but a privileged few (institutional or private collectors) are fortunate enough to own one of her paintings. The donation offered today is therefore a truly outstanding opportunity for the Musée Réattu.
Germaine Pratsevall is known for her use of colour and above all light. Her unique medium for creation is rag paper that she perforates with a needle enabling air and space to infiltrate. She then soaks the sheet in a tray filled with paint, similar to printmaker’s gestures putting a sheet in an acid bath, or a photographer revealing an image in a developing tank. This first action is essential, as the colour is not put on the paper, it infuses it. As Yves Klein said, 
‘colours alone inhabit space’. The sheet is then laid out to dry and reworked with a brush. The only limit is physical, repeatedly, the artist mentions this infinite painting that she has always dreamt of doing by soaking a roll of paper (that she has kept) in a swimming pool filled with paint. The water is an essential component, without water there is no paint…
The exclusive work on paper stems from Germaine Pratsevall’s training as a printmaker, but one cannot help but see her as a classical painter as the format of her works reflects the panels of canvases. The borders of these sheets, almost uniquely torn by knife, make her work outstanding, they are neither borders nor frames. The main source of her inspiration is the landscape, mountain meadows that she wishes to fathom, where she heightens the flood of light. The frame disappears to the benefit of the pictorial matter.