Abstraction, against all odds
Lucia Pesapane, art historian and curator (extract)
When Marie Raymond began a new series of abstract paintings in 1964, the artist was 56 years old; she would continue to paint, write and be active in the art world for another twenty years. While aware that artistic trends were shifting towards conceptual form and political engagement, she remained faithful to abstraction, which became a source of spiritual support for her, a path leading to the infinity of the cosmos. The cyclic nature of life and the need to raise her gaze to the heavens became pressing issues in 1962 when her son, Yves Klein, died suddenly at the age of 34, a tragedy followed by the birth of her grandson, Yves AMU Klein, a few months later. The abstract allowed her to distance herself from reality and draw it towards a higher sense of harmony. “What speaks to us in a painting is not the anecdote that it tells us, but the elusive game of life, ephemeral and real, always other, always new, eternal in itself.”1 Like other great artists before her, such as Hilma af Klint and Emma Kunz, her paintings represent a visual representation of complex spiritual ideas and investigations. (…)
The invisible kingdom
The period of works entitled Abstraction-Figures-Astres (1964-1989) was marked by the artist’s need to find a representation of the unconscious, in such a way that the inner gaze could find expression in the structures of the visible. This interest in the transcendent, the esoteric and the occult, which her sister Rose transmitted to her as a child, was rekindled in adulthood by her encounters with various figures in the art world. Indeed, when Marie Raymond arrived in Paris, she shared a studio with Piet Mondrian, whose style of abstract painting was informed by Theosophical teachings. Her son Yves, moreover, was a member of the Rosicrucian Brotherhood from 1948 to 1953 and his art reflected an esoteric dimension. The regular “Lundis de Marie Raymond” (“Marie Raymond’s Mondays”) events organised by the artist in her apartment and studio between 1946 and 1954 brought together a crowd of gallery owners, collectors and artists such as Dufrêne, Hains, Villeglé, Arman, César, Tinguely and probably Eva Aeppli and Niki de Saint Phalle, both of whom were interested in astrology and tarot cards.
This passion for interpreting the stars can be seen in the almost unconscious way in which the dots and lines invade Marie Raymond’s paintings. In several of the artist’s paintings, it is hard to tell if they represent dawn or dusk, the moment of halfsleep that precedes dreams. That moment, which extends beyond the boundaries of rationality, became a source of inspiration for the artist, as it had been for the surrealists. In 1961, Max Ernst created “Cryptographies”, secret writings that “hold no mystery for someone who has eyes to see and signs to interpret”, an obvious reference to pataphysics and surrealist automatic writing. Raymond’s 1969 work, Naissance des étoiles , recalls this process and resonates with the suggestion of the emergence of ever-new stars.