Series - Pianos

I'm 7 years old in this photo from the summer when I'm playing the piano with Duke Ellington, which gives me the idea for a series on pianos.

Extract from my book La Saga Maeght, chapter "The Minotaur looks after us".

"Miró and I are walking along the path that leads to the Foundation. Grandpa is there, among jazz musicians on a terrace with their instruments and our big Steinway that has been brought out. A black giant is playing chords. Grandpa introduces me and I sit next to Duke Ellington, playing four hands. Then Duke improvises a memorable "Blues for Miró". Miró listens attentively, I stay at his side. At the end of the piece, Miró explains to me that, although the notes are so few, like the colours, their combinations are infinite. To help me understand even better - I am only seven years old - he mentions Prévert who, with the same words as everyone else, as I do, gives life to unique poems. This discussion will change my life forever. The source is simple, the genius is everything."

 Nicolas Poussin, "Sainte Cécile", 1627.

One of my favourite painters, there are always several stories, several readings in his works. Jean-Honoré Fragonard, "La Leçon de musique", 1770.

"La famille Stamaty" by Jean Auguste Dominique Ingres, 1818.
Ingres completed this drawing when the man standing in the centre had just died. He is Constantin Stamaty, of Greek origin, a former secret agent in the service of revolutionary France, and later French consul in Civitavecchia, who was succeeded in this post by Stendhal.
The composition isolates on the left the young Atala Stamaty, a godchild of Chateaubriand. Several clues suggest that Ingres was inspired by Atala's face as a child for his Odalisque. Everything about the adolescent girl is reminiscent of the Odalisque: the parting in the middle, the hair pulled back, the straight nose, the delicately hemmed lips, the round chin, the profile, the slightly sad look and the head turned towards the viewer. The young boy is Camille-Marie Stamaty, then 7 years old. He was to become a renowned pianist in his day and an eminent piano teacher. His pupil was Camille Saint-Saëns. He also composed etudes, a piano concerto, chamber music...
It's a wonderful thing about art history, each work is the story of a life.

Vincent van Gogh, "Marguerite Gachet au piano", 1890.

Auguste Renoir and his, "Jeunes filles au piano", 1892.

Emile Antoine Bourdelle, "Isadora Duncan avec Walter Rummel au piano"1909.
After seeing her performance of Gluck's Iphigénie en Tauride, Antoine Bourdelle became fascinated with the art of Isadora Duncan. He began a cycle of drawings celebrating dance and music, represented respectively by Isadora Duncan and the German pianist Walter Rummel (1887-1953). Rummel, who had been living in Paris since 1908, was one of the most important promoters of Debussy's music, and between 1918 and 1920 he formed a sentimental and artistic relationship with Isadora that was marked by deep aesthetic exaltation.

Ernst Ludwig Kirchner ,1915, "Franz Botho Graef", This archaeologist and classical art historian (1857-1917) inspired many of Kirchner's portraits. A friend of the artist's father, he was one of the advocates of modern art. He taught at the University of Jena from 1904 to 1917. The Kunstverein (art association) in Jena received more than 250 prints by Kirchner in memory of Botho Graef (1857-1917).

William Chase, "The keynote" de William Chase, 1915. Chase was born in Indiana and set up his own school in New York, the "Chase school" (now Parsons), after having taught for a few years at the Art Students League.

Henri Matisse, en 1917, realizes, "La leçon de musique". This painting shows Matisse's children: Pierre at the piano next to Marguerite, and Jean in the armchair. In the garden sits Amélie Matisse (née Parayre), mother of Pierre and Jean. What a freedom for Matisse to come back to the subject, to the colour... It is exactly the same composition as the previous painting, this one is in the collections of the Barnes Foundation.

"fillette au piano", by Georges Valmier, 1920.

Salvador Dali, "Pharmacien soulevant avec une précaution extrême le couvercle d’un grand piano", 1936.
Totally surreal, and I must admit, a magnificent painting, I am not a fan of Dali's paintings, but I love what he wrote, his interviews, his eccentricity and especially his intelligence. Salvador Dali was curious about everything and one of his interests was the scientific world. His library contains about a hundred books -annotated in the margin and commented on by his hand- on different scientific aspects: physics, quantum mechanics, origin of life, evolution, mathematics... The 1930s were marked by double images and optical illusions, a passion that would never leave Dali's work, just like the immense, empty landscapes that evoke dreams.

Norman Rockwell, "L'accordeur de piano", 1947.
Rockwell is best known for his cover illustrations for The Saturday Evening Post, a highly influential publication for the American middle class. It was founded in 1821.
Rockwell contributed to The Post for some fifty years, his illustrations reflecting the social and technological changes of the time.
"The Piano Tuner" depicts a young boy fascinated by an elderly piano tuner. Rockwell hired an eight-year-old boy (Andrew Brinkerhoff Smith) for the painting for which he received $5. However, on New Year's Eve 1947, Rockwell offered the painting to Smith's parents.

Nicolas de Staël, "Le Piano", 1955.

Nicolas de Staël, "Le Grand Concert, L'Orchestre", 1955.
One of the artist's most intense and immense canvases - 350 x 600 cm, painted in Antibes, where the painter has been experiencing a period of hyperactivity since the autumn of 1954, producing 147 canvases and sketching a multitude of drawings.
Musical instruments, in particular, in ballpoint pen or felt-tip pen, showing his permanent research... "The more you understand that the explosion is everything with me, like opening a window, the more you will understand that I cannot stop it by finishing things", he wrote on 17 February 1955 to the Parisian gallery owner Jacques Dubourg, who had commissioned an exhibition.
In his house along the ramparts, at the age of 40 de Staël was in fact preparing three exhibitions. For Dubourg, for England and for the Musée d'Antibes, planned for the summer of 1955.
"I am slow, I am not Picasso. Staël makes this confession to his friend René Char in one of his countless letters. "Late in life", as Char describes it, he becomes exhausted. On 16 March, he writes to Jacques Dubourg: "I don't have the strength to finish my paintings. The following night, he throws himself off his terrace.

Pablo Picasso, "Le piano", from Velazquez, 1957.
I would not be surprised if Javier Mariscal had seen this painting in the Barcelona Museum, as he seems to have been very influenced in his creations by the dog in this painting.

My grandfather, as elegant as ever, with Duke Ellington, in the gardens of the Maeght Foundation, one summer day in 1966.

Robert Combas, "Le Pianiste" 1989.

An exceptional objet d'art, designed by Aki Kuroda for Pleyel.
The book La Saga Maeght by Yoyo Maeght, with dedication. Link ici