• WL100/38: Les dessins de Michaux

Lutosławski fans know the name of Henri Michaux through his three poems which Lutosławski used in his Trois poèmes (1961-63).  Perhaps less well-known are Michaux’s paintings and drawings.  I remember making a connection, when I first came across Lutosławski’s piece, between the scurrying figuration of the first movement (‘Pensées’) and the figurative movement in much of Michaux’s visual work.  So here’s a 1964 recording of that movement plus a selection of Michaux’s dessins.  I have no idea if Lutosławski knew them in the early 60s (or whether Michaux heard Trois poèmes or any of Lutosławski’s other music), but the parallels are still striking.

According to his own dates, Michaux started writing on 9 March 1922 and painting on 1 January 1936.  In the 1930s he travelled to India, China and Japan, whose calligraphy and ideograms had a profound influence.  In the mid-1950s, he worked under the influence of mescaline, although the direction of his art was already firmly established.

IMG_3224 copy(Untitled, 1952, 28x36cm)

‘Their movement became my movement.  The more there were of them, the more I existed.  The more of them I wanted.  Creating them, I became quite other.’  (1951, of his Mouvements series; transl. Michael Fineberg)

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(Untitled [Vitesse], 1954, 75x105cm)

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(Untitled, 1960, 70x140cm)

‘I was possessed by movements, on edge with these forms which came to me rhythmically.  Often one rhythm ruled the page, sometimes several pages in succession, and the more numerous were the signs that appeared (one day there were close on five thousand), the more alive they were.’  (ibid.)

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(Untitled, 1962, 71.5x104cm)

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(Untitled, 1968, 75x108cm)

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