Jirí Kolár

Your Bridegroom Roves, and your Immortal Form Keeps Vigil when He Sleeps


Not on display

Jirí Kolár 1914–2002
Original title
Ton époux court le monde, et ta forme immortelle veille près de lui quand il dort
Photograph and lithograph on paper
Image: 266 × 408 mm
frame: 540 × 692 × 16 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

T05038 Your Bridegroom Roves, and your Immortal Form Keeps Vigil when he Sleeps 1972

Ton époux court le monde, et ta forme immortelle veille près de lui quand il dort
Photo-lithograph on wove paper 266 × 408 (10 1/2 × 16)
Inscribed ‘JK 72’ b.r. and ‘J Kolář | 72’ on back centre
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 (53), Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, Sept.–Nov. 1973 (56); Jiří Kolář: Collagen Rollagen Chiasmagen Crumblagen, Museum Haus Lange, Krefeld, April–June 1973 (217); Jiří Kolář: Collages 1952–82, Albemarle Gallery, June–July 1987 (no number)
Lit: Ronald Alley, ‘Jiří Kolář and the Poetry of Collage’, Jiří Kolář: Collages 1952–82, exh. cat., Albemarle Gallery 1987, p.11

This is one of a series of fifty-six collages made between 1972 and 1973 in which two reproductions are combined. These are of a famous photographic portrait of the French poet Charles Baudelaire by Carjat, c.1861, and of a painting. The painting in T05038 is by Thomas Gainsborough and is entitled ‘Richard Andrews and his Wife Frances’, c.1748–9 (National Gallery, London). It depicts the sitters and their dog in the grounds of their estate with Mr Andrews standing, wearing a cream coat, black britches and hat, and Mrs Andrews seated, wearing a blue dress. Kolář used only the left-hand section of Gainsborough's painting for T05038 and cut out the reproduction from an Italian series of art books called Maestri del colore (The Masters of Colour). 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, and these lines are given as the title of the collage. The photo-lithographic reproduction of Baudelaire was specially produced for Kolář by Johanna Ricard, the dealer who commissioned the series. It is black and white, although red is visible in the contours of the face where the registration is not precise due to inexact alignment in the printing process of the different colour overlays. The reproductions were cut vertically into narrow sections of equal width and glued in alternate strips onto a cardboard support.

Several collages of ‘The Flowers of Evil’ series contain double portraits; some with paintings depicting two sitters, such as T05038, others containing double images of Baudelaire (repr. Albemarle Gallery exh. cat., 1987, pls.84, 88). In conversation, the artist suggested that this reflected a layered or split consciousness. He said that Baudelaire had felt simultaneously ‘inside and outside’ situations and had thought about literature at all times, even when in bed with a lover. He had been conscious that if he could think about someone else, his lover was in exactly the same postion. Kolář's perception of Baudelaire's personality influenced his choice of Gainsborough's double portrait in T05038.

Kolář has made a large number of works inspired by Charles Baudelaire, including the series to which T05038 belongs. He has developed numerous types of collage and this one is called a ‘prollage’. When acquired by the Tate Gallery, T05038 was called ‘L'Invitation au voyage’ (‘Invitation to the Voyage’). Originally, however, T05038 was titled after the two first lines of the last verse of ‘Une Martyre’ (‘The Martyr’) and the compiler has followed this title. For detailed discussion on the reasons for this change, 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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