Jean Lurçat (Bruyères 1892-1966 Saint-Paul-de-Vence) Aube de nuit, circa 1950 Aubusson tapestry, woven in the Tabard Frères et Sœurs workshop Wool 150 x 296 cm
The tapestry has the bolduc of the Tabard Frères et Soeurs workshops sewn on the reverse, which gives the title of the tapestry, the dimensions, the order number 2844, the signature of Jean Lurçat and the monogram of the Tabard workshops (the letters of the tapestry-maker's name surmounting a stylized tree taken from the coat of arms of the town of Aubusson). There is a second weaving of the tapestry, Aube de nuit.
Painter and poet, marked by cubism and his travels in North Africa and the Middle East, and tinged with surrealism, Jean Lurçat is best known for having renovated the art of tapestry in the 20th century. Integrated into the world of architects by his brother André, he reintroduced tapestry and carpets into interior decoration. As early as 1917, he was making cartoons for tapestries in point, an experimental work on texture, point and colour. Around 1929-30, he was solicited along with Georges Rouault, and other artists such as Matisse, Picasso and Braque by Marie Cuttoli, one of the main patrons of modern tapestry. The experiment was not fully conclusive because it was a question of making a painted cardboard, but according to Lurçat, the renewal of tapestry involved a new aesthetic, which proposed a broad interpretation of painting. It was after discovering the medieval tapestry of the Apocalypse of Angers in 1937 that he affirmed his new conception of tapestry, by appropriating a technique and an aesthetic, working first with Marcel Gromaire and Pierre Dubreuil, then after meeting the tapestry-maker François Tabard in Aubusson. Lurçat used the numbered cardboard technique, which had been experimented with by cardboard painters such as Marius Martin, to implement his conception of the art of tapestry.
The numbered cardboard is a mental exercise, as it is primarily drawn and the limited number of colours are replaced by numbers. The tapestries are characterised by a reduced colour range and a rough texture. This frankness of line combined with the strength of a frank colouring serves the poetics of Lurçat's universe. It is an art with a symbolic iconography, dealing with great universal themes, such as freedom, fraternity, resistance and primitive humanity. Lurçat was a unifying figure, bringing together painters such as Marc Saint-Saëns, Jean Picard-le-Doux, Dom Robert, Robert Vogenski, bringing them together in the Association des Peintres-Cartonniers de Tapisserie (A.P.T.C.). The new tapestry of Lurçat and his followers was revealed to the public at a major exhibition after the war in 1946, claiming national pride. Lurçat became the propagator of the medium of tapestry throughout the world.
The dawn of night refers to the daylight that comes before sunrise. It is both the moment that inspires regret for the approach of daylight in lovers and a symbol of purity, of the promise of life, of hope. Lurçat treated this theme several times in different ways. A large tapestry executed in 1943-1944 in the Goubely workshop in Aubusson is entitled Dawn and Night (National Museum of Denmark). The tapestry Aube de nuit of oblong format, woven around 1950 in the Tabard workshops, shows a large sun drawn by large whitish stylised lines in the centre, surrounding a rooster, whose head is topped by a large starry crest, all on a midnight blue background, populated by light blue stars and others of fire, mixed with balls of fire; on the sides, stylised foliage. We find the favourite motifs of Lurçat's poetic universe, the sun and the stars, the rooster, symbol of France, which returns with variations in several gouache drawings and tapestries (Feux bleus, La Chanson de Roland, Faisan feu), as well as stylised vegetation. Lurçat also used the same compositional principle in another tapestry of the same oblong format, entitled Soleil de minuit (Tabard workshop, around 1950). Pascal-François Bertrand