Pierre MOLINIER Emmanuelle Arsan | France 1967
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All Items: Fine Art: Prints: Photographs: Pre 1970: item # 434931
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Portrait of Emmanuelle Arsan, c. 1967
Vintage gelatin silver print
Literature: Molinier Une retrospective, Edition Mennour, Paris, 2000. Illustrated on page 34.
Only a handful of photographs of Molinier’s muse are known to exist, all apparently from a single sitting. “Emmanuelle was the joy and Bible of Molinier."(1) “Molinier made the acquaintance of Marayat (Emmanuelle Arsan), the author of “Emmanuelle” and “Anti-Verge,” sometime in 1964. Her novel, which advocated an emancipated female eroticism, found Molinier’s sympathy as he saw in it a literary parallel to his own work.”(2)
1. Lo Duca, quoted in Molinier: Une Retrospective, Paris, 2000, pg. 167.
Pierre MOLINIER (Agen 1900 – Bordeaux 1976)
In the fifties there was a shift in his pictorial work, with the introduction of an erotic iconography in which the woman’s body was seen as a territory of masks and artifices. Accompanied by allusions to religion (the divine and the diabolical), Molinier’s women exhibit a self-sufficient, narcissistic sexuality, self-absorbed in a decadent pictorial atmosphere. During this period there was a distancing from the art community of the city where he lived, because of the rejection produced by one of his erotic paintings, Le grand Combat (The Great Combat). In 1955 he contacted André Breton, who helped him to exhibit in Paris at the gallery À l’Étoile Scellée, and he contributed to the magazine le surréalisme, même. But the friendship with the guru of Surrealism did not last long; the reason for their disagreement was the painting Oh! … Marie, Mère de Dieu (Oh! … Mary, Mother of God).
In the reclusion of his small flat in Bordeaux, Molinier concentrated on painting and photography, using the presence of male and female friends and cross-dressing: a velvety atmosphere in which the search for pleasure became the central focus of his existence. Sexual ambiguity became more prominent in the photographs and photomontages of the sixties and seventies, in which Molinier dressed as a woman, manipulated a huge number of objects and accessories, which he used to create a fetishistic, onanistic view of sexuality (continued in his work with Thierry Agullo and Luciano Castelli).
Pierre Molinier committed suicide in 1976, at 75 years of age. On his door he wrote in chalk the following words: "Je prends ma vie. La clef est avec le concierge". ("I'm taking my life. The key is with the concierge.") He then carefully staged a final "performance" in front of a mirror. Molinier pointed a loaded gun slightly below his chin and, instead of pressing a camera's cable release, pulled the trigger. (From the exhibition: Pierre Molinier, curator: Juan Vicente Aliaga, IVAM Centre Julio González)