CARRIÈRE Eugène
French painter, born at Goumay in 1849, died in Paris in 1906. Although his outspoken nature, his love of freedom and, above all, his respect for the freedom of others, made Carrière take part in the most daring enterprises and, consequently, very often associate with the most modern artists, his own art is very far from their aesthetic theories and their technical processes. His deeprooted sense of humanity saved him from dry academism, but he was not a revolutionary by nature, nor had he any desire to shock. That is what kept him out of the various schools of painting that followed one another in quick succession at the end of the nineteenth century. One might better define him, or at least get some insight into the nature of his art, by speaking not of the painters that he knew but of the writers who were his friends: Verlaine, Alphonse Daudet, Mallarmé, Anatole France, Edmond de Goncourt. Eugène Carrière did not believe in 'art for art's sake', he did not paint just for the pleasure of painting, but to express a sentiment, not an aesthetic sensation. Thus, what characterizes him is an intense feeling of humanity. Two themes dominate all his work, the two themes in which he could most completely show the imprint of the human soul: his pictures of motherhood and his portraits. The former show forth all the gestures of tenderness, the attitudes of hope and anxiety, the moving embraces. He did the same picture over and over again, but it was always new, because the emotion with which he contemplated his models was never exhausted. In his portraits each detail was a reflection of the artist's thought. Emerging out of the penumbra, the faces are blurred, softly receiving the light which models their features in grey monochrome. But Carrière was less interested in representing the actual features than in describing the sentiments they aroused. His drawing is as supple and sensitive as writing, and his painting has all the delicacy of a poem. He always honestly admitted that his painting had literary affinities. Perhaps that is why he had little difficulty in getting accepted, and admired. Perhaps, too, the apparent moderation of his increasingly monochromatic art served to inspire confidence. There was no reason to fear that he might spring a revolt or some other unpleasant surprise. However, on closer examination, it can be seen that Carri?e had a broad manner, even very free and somewhat spirited. That was his discreet way of showing his passion. To get a real idea of its extent, one must bear in mind his last words, at the close of an exemplary, life: 'Love one another with frenzy'. Carrière gave us one of today's rare examples of art put to the service of an idea, a cause. He made a point of depicting humanity in its moments of family intimacy. His dreamlike painting is, after all, the reflection of a realistic conception of life, of which his picture, though sometimes disturbed, is always profoundly true (vide Académie Carrière).
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