THE ARTISTIC FANCIES OF RENÉ CLÉMENT
La Gazette Internationale, mai 2012
Kees Van Dongen (1877 - 1968), "Portrait de femme
au collier et à la rose, vers 1905", oil on canvas, 55 x 47 cm.
From “Jeux interdits” to “Passager de la pluie”, René Clement's films always appealed to the public, with well-shaped scenarios, dark, poetic atmospheres and great attention to detail. The same could be said of his works of art. Born in 1913, he originally intended to study architecture. Then Jacques Tati, whom he met in 1934, encouraged his interest in films, and he began with documentaries that took him to the Middle East and Africa. The war interrupted his work, but he picked up the camera again in 1946 for “La Bataille du rail”, which won a prize at Cannes. This was the first of a long string of successes. With his earnings (after tax) the filmmaker decided to buy a painting after every film, if he could. The first was a picture by Marquet, “Le port de Marseille et Notre-Dame-de-la-Garde”, painted in around 1917-1918. René Clément certainly appreciated well-composed paintings of this kind. Other paintings from his collection are to be sold in a sale in Cheverny. They include a small landscape by Le Douanier Rousseau (€25,000), a Vlaminck from 1909 (€140,000/180,000) and a pastel by Renoir (€150,000/200,000). This work by Van Dongen, “Portrait de Madeleine Grey”, 1929, is decidedly worth studying. The painting, acquired in 1975, evokes the charming and beautiful women who acted in front of his camera. Madeleine Grey was a well-known opera singer. Her friend Ravel praised her in one of his letters to the conductor Ernest Ansermet: “She is one of the most remarkable performers, with an attractive voice, pleasantly powerful and very clear. And most importantly, she has perfect diction. Thanks to her, the public heard in Shéhérazade more than just a symphonic poem.”