Jirí Kolár

These Warm Nights I Breathe, Eyes Closed, the Scent of your Welcoming Breasts


Not on display

Jirí Kolár 1914–2002
Original title
Quand, les deux yeux fermés, en un soir chaud d'automne, je respire l'odeur de ton sein chaleureux
Photograph and lithograph on paper
Image: 253 × 430 mm
Presented by Mr and Mrs Rodney Capstick-Dale 1988

Display caption

Kolár was both a visual artist and a writer, and in these works he pays homage to nineteenth-century French poet Charles Baudelaire whose portrait recurs in all of them. Kolár (pronounced to sound like ‘collage’) developed various different ways of combining imagery; he called this technique of interlacing vertical strips of two different images ‘prollage’. In each case the reproduced painting interwoven with the poet’s portrait reminded Kolár of a particular line from Baudelaire’s collection of poems ‘The Flowers of Evil’, from which the titles are borrowed.

Gallery label, January 2016

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Catalogue entry

T05039 These Warm Autumn Nights I Breathe, Eyes Closed, the Scent of your Welcoming Breasts 1972

Quand, les deux yeux fermés, en un soir chaud d'automne, je respire l'odeur de ton sein chaleureux
Photo-lithograph on wove paper 253 × 430 (10 × 16 5/16)
Inscribed ‘B4’ on back b.r.
Presented by Mr and Mrs Rodney Capstick-Dale 1988
Prov: Johanna Ricard, Nuremberg 1972, who sold it to Rodney Capstick-Dale 1983 or 1984
Exh: Jiří Kolář: Hommage à Baudelaire, Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, April–June 1973, Museum Boy-mans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Sept.–Nov. 1973 (16, repr.); Jiří Kolář: Collagen Rollagen Chiasmagen Crumblagen, Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, April–June 1973 (180); Jiří Kolář: Collages 1952–82, Albemarle Gallery, June–July 1987 (89, repr.)
Lit: Ronald Alley, ‘Jiří Kolář and Poetry of Collage’ in Jiří Kolář: Collages 1952–82, exh. cat., Albemarle Gallery 1987, p.11

T05039 belongs to a series of fifty-six collages made between 1972 and 1973, in which two reproductions are combined (see also entries on T05031, T05038 and T05040). All the works contain a reproduction of a photographic portrait of the French poet Charles Baudelaire by Carjat, c.1861, and a reproduction of a painting. In T05039 the painting is by Ernst Ludwig Kirchner and is entitled ‘Half-Length Nude with Hat’, 1911 (Wallraf-Richartz Museum, Cologne). It depicts a semi-dressed woman wearing a black hat and a red patterned dress pulled down to reveal her breasts. The subject of the painting recalled for Kolář lines from one of Baudelaire's poems in the cycle Les Fleurs du mal (The Flowers of Evil), published in 1857, which are given as the title of the collage. The photo-lithographic portrait of Baudelaire, which is blue, was specially produced for Kolář by Johanna Ricard, the dealer who commissioned the series. The reproductions were cut vertically into narrow sections of equal width and glued in alternate stips onto a cardboard support. In conversation with the compiler on 17 April 1990, Kolář discussed his choice of a German Expressionist painting in T05039. He quoted aloud the poem ‘Une charogne’ (‘Carrion’), from The Flowers of Evil as an example of the expressionistic qualities in Baudelaire's writing and their relevance for the expressionist movements that have periodically returned throughout the history of art and literature. In the penultimate verse the poet addresses his lover with the chilling reminder of her mortality. He tells how she, too, will become stripped of her flesh after death:

Oui! telle que vous serez, ô la reine des grâces,
Après les derniers sacrements,
Quand vous irez, sous l'herbe et les floraisons grasses,
Moisir parmi les ossements'.

Yes, you will come to this, my queen,
after the sacraments,
when you rot underground among the bones already there.

(Charles Baudelaire, Les Fleurs du mal, trans.
Richard Howard, 1982, pp.35–6, 212–13)

Kolář has made a large number of works inspired by Charles Baudelaire, including the series to which T05039 belongs. He has developed numerous types of collage and this one is called a ‘prollage’. When acquired by the Tate Gallery, T05039 was called ‘Les Métamorphoses du vampire’. Originally, however, it was titled after the two opening lines in the last verse of the poem ‘Parfum exotique’ and the compiler has followed this title. For detailed discussion on the reasons for this change of title, the subject and series, and on Kolář's specialist collage techniques, see the entry on T05031.

The artist has approved this entry.

Published in:
Tate Gallery: Illustrated Catalogue of Acquisitions 1986-88, London 1996

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