Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Le Palais Ideal

The Palais Ideal is a construction build by a mailman working alone over thirtythree years. Located in Hauterives, France it is now a designated cultural landmark. The mailman Ferdinand Cheval was walking his route in 1879 and stumbled over a stone and that gave him the inspiration for this work of naive architecture. He had no training as a mason or a builder and cemented stones together at night by lamplight to build his artistic dream. The contemporary accounts indicate that he was viewed as the village idiot.

Cheval started carrying small stones in his pockets but eventually pushed a wheelbarrow on his route, selecting stones that he felt would be useful in the building. He originally intended to be buried alongside his wife in a crypt in the building, but was unable to do that under French law and evidently felt that it might interfere with the whimsical character of his creation. So he spent a number of more years creating a smaller but similar structure in a nearby cemetery for that purpose.

The building is covered with depictions of scenes from the Bible and Hindu mythology. Cheval's creation came to the attention of Picasso and other "modern" artists before his death in 1912 and their efforts led to a public fascination with the building and ultimately its preservation.

I have presented this tonight not just because it is cool, but because as artists we are a little like Cheval. Each of us is on his own building a body of work. Our efforts are as singular as his and perhaps as focused. The lesson to be gained here is what a single person, even one of very limited means, can do if they work assiduously toward a clearly defined goal.

I find naive, folk art structures like this and the Watts towers fascinating for their originality and creative daring. He spent all of that time building the thing because he wanted to make something extraordinary and beautiful, he did it for no pay and without any particular recognition. Cheval built this palace because he needed to create, he needed an all consuming project, that's what drives an artist.

NOW GET BACK TO WORK!

12 comments:

ramon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
ramon said...

that's amazing. I'll have this guy in mind the next time I'm slacking off or doing something stupid. By the way Stape, do you like Fortuny at all? if so, you'll like this


la vicaria


ps. fixed link

Ann Rogers said...

Stunningly beautiful, thanks for sharing. Now, back to work!

Simone said...

"The need to create...." A reflection of He whose nature it is to create, continually.

willek said...

Someone could spend a lifetime painting this structure and become famous

Carol Nelson said...

Cheval is an example of a person completely dedicated to his art.

So many artists feel similarly compelled to create. I don't do it for the money (Lord knows), but because it fulfills me.

Stapleton Kearns said...

ramon;
I do like Fortuny but I couldn't get that link to work.No slacking off, you will be a geezer like me, just like that.
.................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Ann;
I guess its beautiful, it is impressive for sure. A work of madness!
.................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Simone;
Yes indeed.
...............Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Willek;
If there was a guarantee maybe!
................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Carol;
I do it for money, I like that part of it too. It is a sport!
....................Stape

Stapleton Kearns said...

Carol;
I do it for money, I like that part of it too. It is a sport!
....................Stape