Outsider Art: Eugène B.'s Touch of Madness
Thursday, March 10th 2022
La Gazette Drouot, Caroline Legrand
Eugène B., aka "The Chronically Delusional Patient" (1872-?), Le Symbole de mon histoire ou Filiation de la locomotive (The Symbol of My History or Relationship with the Locomotive), c. 1927-1933, drawing and collage, with numerous penned inscriptions in old patois, 96.5 x 130 cm/38 x 51.2 in.
This work from Dr. Henri Faure's collection is only the central portion of a huge fresco created by Eugène B., aka "The chronically delusional patient", c. 1927-1933.Although asylum art—"the art of the insane" as André Breton called it—entered French museums in the 1940s, thanks to Jean Dubuffet, who made it one of the foundations of his burgeoning Outsider Art, it had been studied for decades, even centuries, by professors and researchers. At the beginning of the 20th century, these included the German psychiatrist Hans Prinzhorn in Heidelberg and Dr. Walter Morgenthaler at the Waldau clinic near Bern. But this work takes us to Rouffach in Alsace, in around 1927-1933. It is only the central part of a huge composition, partly saved by the asylum's chief supervisor during improvement work, and which subsequently entered the collection of Dr. Henri Faure (1923-1999), a psychiatrist at the Bonneval hospital, and then passed to his descendants. Produced on several sheets of paper fixed together, this drawing adorned an entire wall in its creator's room. Using a folding cane, he loved explaining his work to visitors, describing it as a symbol of his history. He was known as Eugène B. Born in 1872, he was married, had three children and was a locomotive driver for the Alsace Lorraine Railway Company when he began to develop psychiatric problems in 1912. He was committed to a hospital ten years later. His psychiatrist at the time, Dr. Henri Ueberschlag, studied his patient and his artwork in a book entitled A Chronically Delusional Patient. His History - His Diagnostic Language. Dr. Henri Faure also contributed to this analysis.
In this work, we can see a view of the family property set on fire by a priest, the city of Carcassonne, the Mulhouse railway station, a cannon firing 'great canon law' shells from St. Peter's Square in Rome towards a cannon stationed in front of the Law Courts in The Hague, as well as coats of arms, seals and uniforms. All these recall the trauma of the war and a complex family history, while in the lower part, two locomotives moving in opposite directions symbolize schizophrenia. It is a unique, touching and vibrantly alive work.
GRAPHIC ARTSSunday 20 March 2022 - 14:00 (CET) - Live
Route de Blois - 41100 Vendôme