The Vesque sisters and the circus

The Vesque sisters and the circus


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  • The Carlos at the Cirque Médrano.

    VESQUE Marthe and Juliet

  • Les Marcès at the Cirque Pinder.

    VESQUE Marthe and Juliet

  • Henriquas Rubio balancing act at the Cirque d'Hiver.

    VESQUE Marthe and Juliet

To close

Title: The Carlos at the Cirque Médrano.

Author : VESQUE Martha and Juliet (-)

Creation date : 1916

Date shown: March 23, 1916

Dimensions: Height 29.9 - Width 20.2

Technique and other indications: Watercolor, black ink, graphite, paper (material), pen (drawing). Circus number, March 23, 1916.

Storage place: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux / All rights reserved website

Picture reference: 09-520520 / 68.102.208C

The Carlos at the Cirque Médrano.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux / All rights reserved

To close

Title: Les Marcès at the Cirque Pinder.

Author : VESQUE Martha and Juliet (-)

Date shown: July 1921

Dimensions: Height 0 - Width 0

Technique and other indications: Album "The circus in pictures"

Storage place: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux / All rights reserved website

Picture reference: 07-518372 / 68.102.150

Les Marcès at the Cirque Pinder.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux / All rights reserved

To close

Title: Henriquas Rubio balancing act at the Cirque d'Hiver.

Author : VESQUE Martha and Juliet (-)

Date shown: October 11, 1924

Dimensions: Height 30 - Width 20.2

Technique and other indications: Watercolor, black ink, graphite, paper (material), pen (drawing)

Storage place: MuCEM website

Contact copyright: © Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux / All rights reserved website

Picture reference: 07-518396 / 68.102.202C

Henriquas Rubio balancing act at the Cirque d'Hiver.

© Photo RMN-Grand Palais - F. Raux / All rights reserved

Publication date: November 2010

Historical context

The circus in pictures

From 1902 to 1948, Marthe Vesque (1879-1962) and her sister Juliette Vesque (1881-1949) saw a circus performance almost every week, with the project of making an illustrated story. Draftsmen and painters, they leave a journal and a graphic work which constitute a true chronicle of life under the capitals planted in the inner suburbs of Paris.

Always signed "M. V.", the boards of the two sisters thus constitute a mine of information on the actors, the places, the numbers, the world of the circus and its evolution during nearly half a century. Over the course of the shows, they have produced more than 8,000 sketches and drawings of naturalist inspiration, which are characterized by their precision and realism. It is undoubtedly for this reason that in 1977, a set of more than 200 drawings, chosen from the works bequeathed to the National Museum of Popular Arts and Traditions, was brought together in the album The circus in pictures, from which are extracted The Carlos at Circus Medrano, Les Marcès at the Cirque Pinder and Henriquas Rubio balancing act at the Cirque d'Hiver.

Image Analysis

The circus in motion

As always contemporary with the shows which the Vesque sisters attended, the drawings The Carlos at Circus Medrano, Les Marcès at the Cirque Pinder and Henriquas Rubio balancing act at the Cirque d'Hiver are dated March 1916, July 1921, and October 1924 respectively. The incisive, light and precise line serves the admirable study of movement and evolution. Associated with the choice of a light and almost virgin background, the fine and thin colors of the watercolor add to the delicacy of the whole, airy and soft.

The drawing The Carlos at the Circus Medrano shows a woman and two men dressed in the same bottle green costume: the artists of the same "family" often wear identical outfits, which affirm their identity in relation to the other formations of the troop and which underline the esprit de corps which them anime - the performance is that of the collective, since everyone depends on their partners during the show. The drawing represents a particularly crucial moment in the number performed by the tightrope walkers: standing in the center of the circular track, the edge of which appears far behind him, a man raises with one arm a long pole at the end of which the other man, a foot passed through a strap, is kept almost square above the void, arms extended forward to ensure balance. The woman follows the number with her eyes, standing next to the springboard painted in the family colors. The Vesque sisters were able to exploit the height of the leaf to return the altitude at which the tightrope walker is.

Les Marcès at the Cirque Pinder depicts various moments in a trapeze act performed by artists all dressed in the same black and white costume. The Vesque sisters studied the catching of the trapeze (right), the landing in the net (bottom), the acrobatics and acrobatics of the trapeze artists (top and left).

Because the drawing only features one character, Henriquas Rubio, and because it has more figures (literally and figuratively), Henriquas Rubio balancing act at the Cirque d'Hiver also gives the impression of a decomposed study of movement. Grouped in horizontal series, the drawings on this plate reproduce the chronological unfolding of the balancing act's acrobatics, a process that brings it closer to the famous chronophotographs made by Muybridge at the end of the 19th century. Henriquas Rubio, who made his Spanish origins his “mark”, wears his usual bullfighter costume, rendered in every detail.

Interpretation

Poetics of the circus

These three drawings are the result of the process that the Vesque sisters always followed: first pencil and pen sketches taken from the bleachers, often in the dark. This direct observation work carried out "on the spot" is followed by a phase of focusing during which they use very flexible mannequins that they themselves have designed to better study the movements. Sometimes circus artists agree to pose or take up certain positions for them. Finally, the compositions are reworked in watercolor. The very careful attention that Marthe and Juliette Vesque pay to costumes, evolutions and sequences clearly characterizes these three watercolor drawings.

However, there is also a certain poetry in the realistic and meticulous study of bodies, which owes as much to the subject represented as to the almost amorous way in which the Vesque sisters treat him. The attitudes are graceful, the movements fluid, and the characters seem weightless. Thus they embody the marvelous dimension of the circus, which transfigures its artists into a dancing material (see Henriquas Rubio balancing act at the Cirque d'Hiver), light and airy.

A poetry which is therefore also deep, with here and there perspectives of a metaphysical order on matter, flesh, the body and its representation, the body and its movements. For example, in The Carlos at Circus Medrano, the tightrope walker "wife" (arms outstretched, he seems ready to throw himself into it) literally a seemingly infinite void and thus evokes a disturbing relationship to nothingness and death, or at least to the immensity of space in which it evolves.

  • circus

Bibliography

Bernadette BOUSTANY, On track ! The circus in pictures of the Vesque sisters, Paris, Gallimard, coll. "Discoveries Gallimard albums", 1992. Pascal JACOB, The Great Circus Parade, Paris, Gallimard, 2001.Circus in the universe n ° 169, 2nd quarter 1993. Jacques LECOQ, The Poetic Body: a teaching of theatrical creation, Arles, Ed. Of Acts Sud-Papiers, 1997. Album Marthe and Juliette Vesque / The circus in pictures, drawings presented by Édith Mauriange and Paul Bouissac, Paris, G.-P.Maisonneuve and Larose, 1977.

To cite this article

Alexandre SUMPF, "The Vesque sisters and the circus"


Video: The Circus


Comments:

  1. Tiridates

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  2. Akinozuru

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  3. Azhaire

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  4. Cadmon

    How absurd

  5. Mazubei

    Of course. It was with me too. We can communicate on this theme. Here or at PM.



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