“Would I admit it ? I was waiting for André Beaurepaire. It was important that he come, but I wasn’t certain he would be on time for the rendezvous, what he would bring, whence he would enter and what initiatives he would take. After Salvador Dalí, of whom Beaurepaire is the antipode, a great, almost maniacal, draughtsman he surprises us with the most naïve use of the marvellous. I mean that his extraordinary handiwork is not at the service of a system. With pomp, he opens a veritable theatre of catastrophes where childhood reigns, skilfully building dreams and breaking everything.”
Jean Cocteau de l’Académie Française, Revue Graphis, Paris 1946.
“André Beaurepaire, presented by Jean Cocteau at the Paul Morihien gallery, in reality expresses a classical mindset. The rather surprising drawings he exhibits appear to have been built by an architect concerned with balance.But this classic has a baroque meaning and its very pure line is “decorated with embroidery”.He particularly savours looking incessantly for the plan of an ideal house. His taste for the purity of shapes does not contradict his visible attraction to all that is enchanting.” Libération, 13 January 1948 – Exhibition at Galerie Paul Morihien, January 1948.
“I do not know if Beaurepaire will become a “painter” one day, he is such a draughtsman that I cannot see what colour could add to his expression. Nonetheless, we are beginning to feel how he is tormented by something other than black and white and that results in his pastel annotations of light on landscapes where a diaphanous iridescence recalls Turner. But in his pen and ink drawings, which remaindizzyingly imaginative, we also see a characteristic evolution. Today, it would appear that this young artist is trying to move away from the baroque and romantic agitation of his débuts in a quest for more rhythmical compositions, sometimes made of accumulations of classical architectures à la Piranese, and sometimes of strange geometric decompositions. Regardless how, Beaurepaire is unrivalled today in this precision of line and in this meticulous effort that are no longer of our times, but allow him to give rise to the fantastic by simply stockpiling leafy grottoes on top of ruins of temples and steles among scaffolding in the midst of abandoned theatres.”
Arts, Exhibition at Galerie Paul Morihien, January 1948
“A few pastels by André Beaurepaire. Industrial landscapes, remarkable for their precision. One has the impression that everything here is in its place, with its value, its exact lighting. The painter seeks perfection, clearly the balance of the geometry and its emotion, the shape and its poetic halo. It is, it would appear, very rare today. Equally moving city landscapes ; country landscapes that are thus out of another century. An impressionism without its colour. To conclude : an endearing exhibition of the sort we don’t see much of each week.”
Arts - Exhibition at Galerie Bernheim-Jeune, May 1952.
“Patience, enemy of the unfinished, is the most passionate of the virtues, and we know that it devours the movement of time, so that it may never impose itself on the spirit. Patience only notices time to destroy it, and it succeeds. I thought of this the other day while looking at the paintings and drawings of André Beaurepaire. He conveys, by his talent, everything that harasses his nature. His dreams, his ambitions, his insatiable hunger, step by step, tête à tête, word for word, and his unceasing artistic torment were there before me, in the form of fantastic forests and cities, marked by the imprint of a curious stroller. Traveler’s tales formed in a free air in an absence of time. I love the paintings of Andre Beaurepaire. Works of a learned child-philosopher, they possess daring, poetry, and the element of a good deed. These are very precise and solid affirmations, but which still lead one to say that Beaurepaire questions while he affirms. Does he question himself ? I think so, and I also know that the farther he ventures, the more he will arrest and retain us.”
Louise de Vilmorin - Exposition Galerie La Cour d’Ingres, Quai Voltaire, Paris, May 1955.
“I cannot think about André Beaurepaire without writing the way he speaks and I respect his passion for quality. He abandoned the style that had brought him enormous success eight years earlier to follow the discipline of one du Cerceau. His imagination seethes with incredible blacks, with greys made of a thousand points of black ink. Some of the canvases on display are just experimental, one of them is a great success : a city charred by a nuclear catastrophe lays its ragged monuments before us ; on the banks of a river of ash, nothing survives. Patinir, whom Beaurepaire admires, had at least saved the family of Loth. I regret having only seen one pastel : a Nordic Venice, with phosphorescent foam edging the waves. It is perhaps the prettiest thing one might see at the art dealers during this month of May.” Philippe Jullian, Revue la Parisienne, Exposition Galerie La Cour d’Ingres, May 1955
André Beaurepaire is an artist-poet and, like all young poets, he began by practicing and polishing his Alexandrines. His first canvases were built, they show and research shapes in light, then virtuosities of rhythms that represent the success of a born harmonist. His most recent canvases — which I prefer — are no longer so concerned with form ; they liberate the fleeting vitality of the paintbrush ; the line takes over, and colour fuses into it, leaving the shape to be suggested by the atmosphere as much as by the line. I know that colour — that magnificent thing— can sometimes lose the line or make it disappear ; in Beaurepaire’s work, the line remains the skeleton of the painting, the spirit pulses in it, expression is never uncontrolled. I can see proof of this in a magnificent series of engravings, where the line dominates, but in the form of support and contour, giving life. In them, the young artist gave the raw material the same lines as his spirit. It is a success, full of promises and already filled with estimable realisations. An artist to watch, who will not disappoint. Jean-Daniel Maublanc, La Dépêche de Saône et Loire, Exhibition Galerie La Cour d’Ingres, May 1955
Beaurepaire achieves feats of virtuosity and precision with black ink that he handles like etchings. His sense of composition makes it possible to look at them from a distance without them losing interest. Arts, 29 June, Exhibition Galerie Marforen, 91 fbg St Honoré - June 1955
“I have a vast amount of admiration for your talent. We always work for a single friend in the audience. You are one of these few. Why don’t we do a Mozart together. Not a film, at the theatre… Don Juan ? Ask La Scala ! I will be right there. When I was young, I did a theatre production in Vienna. I always dreamed of décors like yours. Nobody knew how to make them. Today you have made them. Bravo !” Max Ophüls, Letter to André Beaurepaire – 4 March 1956.
“Beaurepaire, through the miracle of his imagination, successfully rendered a city at duskin a pastel series : incandescent here, and, on the contrary, there casting black masses on a sky that is perpetually filled with sparkling lights, burnt needles of this light that turns charcoal into diamonds.” Philippe Jullian – Revue La Parisienne, March 1957.
“André Beaurepaire falls in a period where anyone who contradicts any form passes for shrewd. Because no forms exist, everyone resolves the problems as they like, and never had artists less to fear from any tyranny of the spirit. It is thus without the least effect of contrast, and by their stature alone, that the imaginings of André Beaurepaire fascinate us. His classicism is not classic. His modernism is not modern. His taste for the dramatic which threatens us takes place in a world which is not ours. […] Demonic and grandiose, he dreams of a theatre of catastrophe, where the purple curtain will rise upon tempests, ships foundering, edifices in scaffolding, factories, cathedrals, cities of insane luxury. Having worked with André Beaurepaire in the theatre, I admire his union—inevitable with him, but so rare—of precision with poetry. […] This, it seems to me, is the perspective from which we must look, quickly at first, then with a jeweler’s glass, at the clair-obscur labyrinth into which André Beaurepaire invites us. What am I saying ? Rather, where he attracts us.”
Jean Cocteau, Académie Française, Exposition Galerie Wildenstein, New York, 1961.
The drawings and paintings of André Beaurepaire could, it seems to me, be of interest to many art lovers and American collectors. Looking at his work, which is at once classical and fantastic, one feels as though it is based on the observation of a superior reality that is invisible to our eyes, so he is no moresurprised than we are when we see a daisy in the field. His imagination, like that of great artists, feeds in an invisible area that his work reveals. The spirit and hand of André Beaurepaire belong to no school, to no defined movement and never does he sacrifice his freedom, his integrity to a fashion or a movement. His mastery is remarkable and his paintings are pregnant with a poetry that intrigues thought by presenting it with the problem of an endless walk.”
Louise de Vilmorin Exposition Galerie Wildenstein, New York, Jan. - Feb. 1961
In the next room two Dubuffets (hautes pâtes – matter painting), a Max Ernst “The Whole City” ), a painting by Balthus (some girl…) and a composition by Vieira da Silva in her most traditional manner would all be somewhat casually arranged. It would thus be a room quite as it should be, destined to persons with a fairly official taste. For more adventurous amateurs, I would have grouped Fuchs’ demonic angels, Belmer’s “mathematic ladies in chains”, and works by Wols and Polak and André Beaurepaire’s "grands naufrages fantastiques” (great fantastic shipwrecks).
“Le Musée Imaginaire” by François Nourissier. Extract from Nouvelles Littéraires from 12 /09/1963
“Does André Beaurepaire dream as he paints or paint as he dreams ? And yet he does not seem like a dreamer. He hides a certain anxiety behind his smile and good nature. He is a bit like his paintings, which are at once peaceful and tormented.
Valérie, Tribune de Genève - Exposition Galerie Iolas, Geneva 1965.
“In front of paintings, today’s man needs both security and risk, to be reassured while continuing to feel in danger “elsewhere”. André Beaurepaire reassures through the rigorous art of his drawing, a painstaking technique, artisanal care. The security he offers us is savoir-faire. It is no small thing at a time when bluffing easily assumes the face of liberty.
Beaurepaire worries with the paths his imagination follows. From the most rigorous line he tracks down indecision, the unformulated. His art of patience and seriousness is at the service of the dream, sometimes the nightmare. Danger lies in what he shows us : the other side of a world… His cities are often destroyed as if by a cataclysm, his boats are broken by a storm. He is obsessed with architectures : whether they suggest a sky, a ghetto, water, ships, he always sees them as constructions of clouds, stones, tantrums, tangled wood.
So that we contemplate a world after catastrophe, when it is not the catastrophe itself. Fragmented towns, crumbling castles, forms hesitate between the décor of the opera and that of science-fiction. We are almost always at the shore’s edge, because a reflection is the image itself of the mirror we’ve gone through.
Sometimes, especially in recent months, Beaurepaire paints a serene landscape, a universe in pastel, lacustrian, elegiac. I find it worrisome by dint of innocence, transparency. Worrisome — not at all “safe”...
In Beaurepaire’s work, the ruin—perhaps his favourite subject—is not simply a lyrical heap of stones, tumbled columns for pediments. It is an interior quality of things, a sweet irremediable promise of death.”
The man, despite his easy-going appearance that is so French (a house in Touraine, a love for cuisine and wine), is not so simple. First, he is crazy about work. Each of his drawings, his paintings is a very slow story, a meticulously transcribed dream. Then he is obstinate. He will impose his universe, because he cannot change it.
His first friends were Bérard, Cocteau, Louise de Vilmorin. He could recite Cocteau’s words each morning : « What people complain about in you : cultivate it, it’s you ». Beaurepaire lived — at the time when he was creating the décor for “L’Aigle à deux têtes” and for Roland Petit — in the ephemeral world of wings, boxes, and trompe-l’œils in the theatre. These were not chance encounters : he undoubtedly needed sparkle, celebration or ruin. These are the metamorphoses of the fantasies he delivers to us. « Monsu » Desiderio and Piranese did nothing other than build the sumptuous theatres of their secrets in the same way.
François Nourissier, Académie Goncourt, - Exposition Galerie Iolas, 26 June 1965
Beaurepaire’s extraordinarily sensitive eye relies on a classic trade with a particular assuredness that is manifest in suburban landscapes of faded colours and patches, like Harlequin’s coats, as well as in volumetric drawings with the theme of bathing. There, the figures, half men, half clouds, have the mysterious authority of early De Chiricos and La Fresnaye’s great drawings. Enthralled by painting and absolute modesty, Beaurepaire would deserve a long study of his recent work. What we find at 12, rue des Saint-Pères is hardly “spectacular”. Better, much better, the exhibition denotes an exceptional temperament with regard to the trade and the vision. I will return, because Beaurepaire, who is still not well known, is an important painter.
Jean-Marc Campagne, extract – Exhibition Galerie Jean Wanecq – 3 to 21 May 1968
“The doors to a world of legend open up under the gaze of André Beaurepaire. It goes without saying... During his last exhibition at Jean Wanecq, I wrote somewhere that he was an important painter. He is, in the rarest way : not only because of the singularity of his vision, but because of the revelatory power that attaches itself to each of his works. Here lies the disturbing aspect of an artist with a visionary temperament, whence his lack of concern for places and which his authenticity preserves from aligning with any aesthetic school of thought.
It is precisely within the standard of this irreality that he awakes an eternal echo within us, the right note, outside any fashion and that time cannot weaken. Beaurepaire is the outcome of a very rare family of spirits, rare in painting as well as elsewhere ! It is impossible to ignore him.”
Jean-Marc Campagne, “Ce que voit Beaurepaire” extract - Exposition Galerie Jean Wanecq, Paris 1969.
André Beaurepaire’s visionary architecture is infinite. Only the edges of the canvas hinder its growth, its vertical momentum. In fact, they do not stop it, they cut it : the stretcher is not extendable. It is up to the dream to follow, literally as far as the eye can see, the ascension of these towers of Babel in a constant state of flux, but in an unstable balance, because a curse threatens. They will collapse, their walls will fall apart, or interior flames will devour them. Some are populated with a swarm of Lilliputian beings that may even be found massed in close ranks to watch a performance. Is it a Wagnerian opera ? A series of sketches on Wagnerian themes offers this hypothesis. It at least reveals Beaurepaire’s favourite demons. He is also obsessed with skyscrapers, those informers of a delirious urbanism. What is important is that this world be reconstructed in painting. It is ! And with fine precision.
Jean-Marie Dunoyer, Le Monde, 19 May - Exposition Henriette Gomès, Paris 1977.
“André Beaurepaire offers fine technique. His works that, at first glance, appear to be paintings, are big coloured ink drawings. They represent vast buildings that shoot towards the clouds. The tower of Babel, Rome’s Coliseum, skyscrapers unite their colossal structures. The archaeological reference ennobles the contemporary repertoire and the quirky aspect of these composite monuments belongs to the great tradition of visionary architects. But look closely : the forms vacillate, the walls begin to rotate and what is that smoke from a fire rising up, while the crowd, on the levels and balconies, begins to stir ? André Beaurepaire captures his palaces in the nets of an insidious cataclysm, arousing the strange sensation of a world as it begins to slide, to dissolve. The models for his scenery for the Wagnerian dramas hold an equally poetic charge.”
Pierre Mazars, Le Figaro - Exhibition Galerie Henriette Gomès, Paris 1977.
A patiently matured work. And to what end ? It is hard to know what one senses most. The mastery of the triumphant drawing, the stiffness of the quill, the softness of chalk. Or even poetic enticement. A kind of fantastic vertigo rises forth from these stairs, from these infinite architectures. From these towers with their neo-classical colonnades suddenly seized by trembling, on the verge of collapse... An atmosphere out of the mainstream, an eminently romantic climate.
Sabine Marchand, Le Point, André Beaurepaire, Œuvre secrète - Exhibition Henriette Gomès - 1977
“A dream world that is not completely utopian, perched on grey walls, comforts André Beaurepaire’s oneiric vision. Meticulous about every detail, the Parisian artist accumulates pencil marks and lines, in a dispersed yet rigorous order, and thus frees disturbing architectural debauchery. It is at once, order and disorder, a systematic implementation of conventions that, in their reality, break down into highly symbolic beautiful drawings. Mouldering megalopolises, universes in disarray, the work of André Beaurepaire is a cascade of premonitions about the near future. A disproportionate, gigantic, almost lifeless horizon that he sketches with finesse and sensibility. This is not the smallest paradox for a captivating exhibition to discover until April 27th, 1980 at the Galerie Davidson, Tours.”
Nouvelle République, 5 April - Exhibition Galerie Davidson – 1980
“How can I express the great pleasure I felt at finding myself in your eyrie, surrounded by angels and doves. I was especially happy that we were able to find a moment to calmly look at your paintings. Your work fascinates me because of the richness and light your imagination infuses it with… What is very moving to me is that you succeed in enchanting me with a calm atmosphere and there, one sees the smoke and the remains of monuments that were recently destroyed by a cataclysm. This paradox presented with such acumen is very moving to me.” Roland Penrose - Correspondence - 18 October 1982.
“André Beaurepaire exhibited all summer at Maison Esla Triolet-Aragon in St Arnoult in the Yvelines. Before him there were Ernest Pignon-Ernest, Alfred Manessier, Peter Klasen, Erro, Bernard Rancillac, Pat Andrea, Jacques Monory and even Jacques Villeglé… For the occasion, André Beaurepaire chose twenty-five recent oil and acrylic paintings. Each one offers an invitation into his World… Birds eye views, Skyscrapers and Burning cities, No Mans’ Land, Errant Silhouettes … a “veritable theatre of catastrophes” like those evoked by Jean Cocteau sixty years ago.”
Raphaël Rémiatte - Exhibition Maison Elsa Triolet-Aragon, St Arnoult en Yvelines 2007.
The eye was in the frame and watched… What does this immense eye watch that seizes you upon entering like an object with its titanic lens ? A haggard gaze with these devouring pupils of gold, of copper, of steel, of a foreign sapphire blue. Gaze of the painter who snatches up the real to make it, unmake it, remake it in bright hues that are unreal, citron on azure, fire on coals and clear structures of oblique lines, sharp diagonals, trying to pierce the frame in their escape… their expansion aiming for the infinite from the invisible nucleus of the explosion of a world with its architectural rigidity softened by roux, by rust, by brown, by brume, by flames, by phantom flags, by smoke, by smoke streams, by nudes, by knots, by yellow clouds, yellowish, by evanescent vapours… Cubist geometry refuted by all that contradicts the line, eats away at the edge, the square : soft cottony knots, deep celestial divans with vague figures escaped from the aerial roundness of a baroque ceiling, placed in the hesitant languor of voluptuousness, in cloudy, soft effervescence.
Benito Pelegrín - Revue Marseillaise - “L’univers en fuite d’André Beaurepaire” Exhibition Studio Musicatreize, Marseille 2008.
“André Beaurepaire presents the Alsatian public with a few of the canvases he made in the last twenty years… A touch of a Parisian accent.A slickness undoubtedly born on the capital’s boulevards. With 85 years behind him, alive and well, a veritable child of jazz, which “puts him in a frenzy”, he plays with shapes, improvises emotions, sensations, lines and harmonies. An effervescent imagination at the service of an original art, strong and bearer of dreams …”
Patricia North - Dernières Nouvelles d’Alsace, 12 May, extract - Exhibition Cour des Boecklin, Bischheim 2009.
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