"Le Chant du Monde" by Jean Lurçat
The manifesto of a socially-conscious artist, this collection of ten tapestries is an epic, poetic, symbolic and humanistic vision of the 20th century.
Le Chant du Monde by Jean Lurçat has been displayed in the large Salle des Malades of the Hôpital Saint Jean since 1968. It replaced the archaeological collections exhibited in this same space from 1874 onwards.
This suite of ten monumental tapestries (347 m2) is a tribute to L’Apocalypse, the medieval tapestry housed in the Château d’Angers. Jean Lurçat (1892-1966) discovered this masterpiece in 1937 and this ‘encounter’ was to have a decisive influence on his artistic activity. From 1957 onwards, the painter-cartonnier began to weave the ten pieces for his Chant du Monde at Aubusson. A vast textile symphony of human destiny, the tapestry takes the nuclear apocalypse of Hiroshima as its starting point, and looks at La Conquête de l’espace (the conquest of space), in an attempt to express the final victory of man, living in harmony with the world and its elements. The artist was sadly unable to continue this song: he died in 1966.
Le Chant du Monde, commentated on by Jean Lurçat
‘Everything is mixed, intersects, everything is woven, braided into this long adventure. Don’t be surprised if you find venom and honey. It’s not a lament, even less so a romance. But finished, this work, of which the future will decide its value or utility will not have examined life in an oblique or gloomy way.
Quite the opposite!
The initial title for Le Chant du Monde was La Joie de Vivre. I didn’t spend long convincing myself that life, for those who try to live it correctly, is something luscious and sour, bitter and sweet, frenetic and serene.’
Quotation 2, The Conquest of Space
‘This time, from the earth, man rises through outer space. This is the problem of the future world. What motivates me in this area is not curiosity. I'm curious about the things of the earth, but not at all by distant planets. It seems to me beyond the possibility of my imagination to picture life on the moon and the pleasures that this could bring me, because yes, what is certain is that I will not go there…’