This chronology is taken from the catalogue Colette Richarme: an artist, a life, an oeuvre (Colette Richarme : une artiste, une vie, une oeuvre) compiled by J.L. Bourges, a museum curator in Albertville. It is mostly composed of notes from a diary Richarme started keeping in 1944: there are varied notations, which, when taken as a whole, form a real “dialogue with the artist”.
24 January, 1904
Born in Guangzhou in China, where her father worked as the silk market expert for the British firm Jardin & Matheson.
Golden childhood. Colette, an only child, was introduced to drawing by her mother Jane Richarme, who received her education at the Fine Arts School in Geneva.
After the death of her father on 31 August 1913, they were forced to return to Lyons.
Colette attended a technical school where she learned to draw on fabric as well as went to evening classes at the Fine Arts School in Lyons.
1919 – 1925
She moved to Albertville. Fifteen-year-old Colette taught herself how to draw and to paint in watercolours; she discovered literature.
Colette married Jean Boisseau, a second lieutenant in the seventh battalion of the Alpine Hunters. The married couple was part of the circle of Jean Moulin’s friends; he was the sub-prefect of Albertville at the time.
Colette’s mother died around Christmas 1926. In 1927, Colette had her first child Janik, then, in 1929, her second daughter Rosemarie (who died eighteen months later), and finally, in 1930, her youngest daughter Michèle.
During all these years, Colette continued drawing as well as painting with watercolours and in gouache; she attended an art workshop in Chambery.
Jean Boisseau et Colette Richarme
Jean Boisseau et Colette Richarme
1932 – 1935
When Jean Boisseau was appointed in the 27th battalion of the Alpine Hunters, the family settled in Annecy. Richarme had an interesting social life (discussions about literature and cinema).
Creation of numerous gouache paintings; her inspiration came from Lake Annecy, its environment and the old town. She enrolled in an art workshop
Life in Paris with the children.
Richarme attended art workshops at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière, led by Jean Darna, Charles Blanc, Yves Brayer (where she struck up a friendship with the registrar Louise Bourgeois); as well as the Académie Julian in a workshop by Met de Penninghen, who introduced her to the public in 1936 at the Salon des artistes français with one of her first still lifes in oil.
Her husband was transferred to Montpellier, where they settled in a small homestead “La Vignette”. Holiday in Savoy at the Col de la Forclaz, above lake Annecy where Richarme once again found her source of inspiration in the mountains.
The eve of the war. A flying visit to the Prado Museum on Louise Bourgeois’ advice.
She returned with plenty of notes on the masterpieces exhibited there. That same year, her husband went to the front, while her friend Louise got married (to Robert Goldwater) and settled in the USA.
Jean Boisseau became a prisoner of war and was transferred to Germany. Richarme met Mayou Isérentant, a Belgian painter who was taking refuge with her children in the free zone. Richarme was looking for models, and Gypsies agreed to pose; her portrait period began. In May, she exhibited a painting at the Salon des artistes français at the Grand Palais; and in December, for the first time she took part in the regional collective exhibition Salon de la Société des Arts du Languedoc in Narbonne, where she presented three paintings: Portrait d’Antonin Valette (pâtre chevrier) (Portrait of Antonin Valette, a Goatherd), Portrait d’adolescente (Portrait of a Teenage Girl), Printemps en Languedoc (Springtime in Languedoc).
Living conditions were difficult (cold weather and food shortages), but intellectual and artistic life was scintillating thanks to the visits of many artists to “La Vignette” and their stay there. Among them: Mayou, Louis Charles Aymar, Boscian, Antcher, Roudneff, Guenoun …
This was also a period of enthusiastic reading: Treatise on Painting by Leonardo da Vinci, as well as works by Colette and Robespierre. Richarme took part in the exhibition organised in May by the Société Artistique de l’Hérault (Herault Artistic Society). The event brought together regional painters (including Frédéric Bazille) and invited artists. She exhibited L’espagnole réfugié d’Irun (Spanish Refugee from Irun), Portrait d’alolescente (Portrait of a Teenage Girl) and Calvaire (Calvary). In November, she had her first exhibition in Montpellier.
Life on the fringes, full of meditation. Richarme mostly practised large format drawing (wash drawing, charcoal, pen-and-ink drawing). She carried out preparatory work ralating to the fresco for the overseas students’ hall of residence on rue Baudin in Montpellier.
A year full of study, though also a dark year, punctuated with dramatic events (such as the destruction of the old port in Marseilles or the arrest of Jean Moulin) and with an uncertain end. It was the end of the free zone. Richarme mostly read books devoted to painting: Albert Dürer by Maurice Hamel, Les Arts Plastiques (Plastic Arts) by Jacques-Emile Blanche,Les gages charnels de l’art français (The Carnal Pledges of French Art) by René-Jean Clot as well as Les Palettes de Delacroix (Delacroix’s Palettes) by René Piot; but also books by Henri Mondor, Mallarmé l’obscure (Mallarmé the Obscure) by Charles Mauron; she then took a great interest in Mallarmé’s poetry and created “pictorial equivalences” of nine poems.
Richarme had her second personal exhibition in Montpellier (in April) and took part in the collective exhibition “L’art vivant en Languedoc-Roussillon” at the Frabre Museum in Montpellier two months later.
“1944 is seeing a birth: mine, in Art” (Diary, on 22 April)
Gloomy atmosphere with a constant threat of evacuation, but Richarme refused to leave “La Vignette”. She resumed her correspondence with Louise Bourgeois, continued reading and painted large compositions (50×65) based on Mallarmé’s poems. At the same time, she began a series of works on 50×65 cm paper (nudes, compositions) and took part in a collective exhibition at the Fabre Museum in May, then, in December, she participated in the first exhibition after the Liberation, also at the Fabre Museum.
The heavy atmosphere at the end of the war, without news of what was happening in Germany. Her husband returned from captivity in June. Richarme fond refuge in reading: Anna de Noailles or Apollinaire. She practised versification and tried her hand at writing. In February, she presented her personal exhibition at Doctor Bonnet’s gallery, rue des Étuves in Montpellier: mainly drawings and a few oil paintings.
She was still thinking of turning to creative writing: she planned to write a novel, to write plays and to author a book with poems and drawings; in April, she took part in the exhibition Montpellier-Montparnasse organised by the Rethel committee in Montpellier.
Her interest in books led her to look for training in engraving. Robert Cami agreed to teach her at the Fine Arts School in Paris for three months in spring. On her return, she illustrated Salome by Oscar Wilde at the request of an editor.
Richarme sought balance in the masses and a harmony of colours while painting six spring canvases. In June, she took part in the Provençal painters’ exhibition in Paris: Printemps en Languedoc.
Improvement of oil painting by working on landscapes. During her stay in Palavas, she studied change of light throughout the day while painting from nature: numerous gouaches representing skies, ponds and sea. In March, she participated in the exhibition “Paysagistes du Languedoc” in Montpellier with her Terre rouge à la Valette au printemps (Read Earth in la Valette in spring); she also had a personal exhibition in Béziers (in November) which was based on the previous three years of her work.
She read a lot and after work in the studio went to theatres and concerts, attended conferences… In March, Richarme had a personal exhibition at the Galérie Art et Décoration on rue Foch in Montpellier (thirty-two works exhibited) and in December, again in Montpellier, she presented a dozen studies at a joint exhibition with the ceramist Hélène Cannac at the Lucien Gout Gallery.
A period of analysis of not only the texts she read (namely, written works by Alain-Fournier and Rivière, the theatre playMiss Mabel), but also of the works of artists such as Picasso, Gromaire, Rubens; as well as of musical works (Berlioz, Gluck).
Answering the key question for the painters of that time “what to choose: abstraction or figurative art?” , Richarme formed her own vision which placed her beyond this distinction. Once skill has been acquired, the model is nothing but a pretext for composition and colour. Her landscape studies in oil from this period were notable for their use of earth and ochre colours. She took part in the Salon d’Automne at the Grand Palais where she exhibited La mandoline (The Mandolin), La pêcheuse (The Fisherwoman) and La guinguette (The Dance Hall). Then she participated in an exhibition in Cannes (in December) and won the Esterel Grand Prix medal.
Reunion with Louise Bourgeois in Montpellier. She read books by La Rochefoucauld, Maxime Du Camp as well as Figures de proue (Key figures) by René Grousset. Richarme exhibited her works at the Art et Décoration Gallery (in February); her painting Soleil de vendanges (Grape Harvest Sun) was selected for the Biennale de Menton.
Richarme made a long analysis of themes and quotations taken from The Satin Slipper by Paul Claudel. She repainted her previous works in order to “soften them, to match the tones through transition and, most importantly, to stick to more moderation in tone”. Richarme sent six canvas to the Salon Regain in Lyons, became its shareholder the next year and was exhibited at that gallery every year from then until 1971.
Isolated life in “La Vignette” where she was enjoying her surroundings and where she concentrated on pictorial research. She exhibited her works at the Lucien Gout Gallery (in March and April), took part in the Salon de la Marine in Sète.
(From this year on, there were more and more exhibitions are more and more numerous, only the most important ones are mentioned in this chronology)
A disappointing participation in the Salon des Catholiques des Beaux-Arts in March, but her painting Les joutes (The Jousts) drew the attention of an art lover who advised her to exhibit her canvases in Paris. She also took part in the last exhibition of the Gout Gallery artists (in December).
In April, Richarme exhibited some canvases in the wine store of “La Vignette”. The exhibition was devoted to her painting La Grande Résurrection (The Great Resurrection). Her works were finally exhibited in the capital in June: her first Paris exhibition was at Bruno Bassano’s.
Numerous journeys: Provence, Brittany, Avignon as well as Palavas -les-Flots and Sète. She would travel to these places every summer in order to bring her canvases to various exhibitions and to paint countless studies from nature.
Richarme appeared among the painters of the Montpellier group at their exhibition organised in March by the Fine Arts Catholics during the “Grande semaine des Arts” in Dijon; this event was later renamed the Salon Confrontation Richarme took part in it during the subsequent years.
She was a guest of honour at the Salon Regain in Lyons in May, where she exhibited the retrospective “20 years of painting 1936-1956” (38 canvases and 5 drawings); in June her painting Le phare (The Lighthouse) was listed among the fifty best candidates for the Grand Prix for painting at the Avignon festival; in November, Arlette Chabaud presented Richarme’s paintings at her gallery in Avignon.
The canvas Le grand nu rose (The Large Rose Nude) was selected for the Prix Othon Friesz at the Fine Arts School in Paris (in February); the Jacob Gallery organised Richarme’s second exhibition in Paris. The canvas Inspiration sétoise (Sète Inspiration) was purchased by the Musée national d’Art moderne. During her stay in Paris, she made contact with about ten galleries, met many artists and visited the Biennale 57 as well as the young sculptors’ exhibition at the Musée Rodin.
In November, Madame Cabezon displayed Richarme’s Paris exhibition in Montpellier (as she continued to do regularly).
Richarme en 1957
Richarme en 1957
Long stay in Paris from March to May, which allowed her to make her first contact with Madame Langlet at Gallery 55.
An announcement appeared in Le Peintre, offering her a family holiday at Locmariaquer in Brittany for the following spring, in exchange for two paintings. This place would prove to be a source of great poetic inspiration for her work.
In May she sent Le cloître de Villeneuve lez Avignon (The Cloister in Villeneuve lez Avignon) to the fourth Salon des Terres Latines that was held at the National Museum of Modern Art in Paris, where she would go for several years. In July she became one of the “About Desnoyer” painters at the Galerie Art et Décoration in Montpellier.
The Fabre Museum in Montpellier acquired Nature morte rousse et bleue (Red and Blue Still Life).
Activities in Paris: in February Salon de la Société Nationale des Beaux-Arts at the Grand Palais with Les acrobates (The Acrobats) – wash tint, in May and June Salon des Terres Latines. In spring she entered the Salon des Indépendants, to which she remained faithful her entire life.
Third personal exhibition in June and her first at Gallery 55, rue des Saints-Pères. She used this stay to visit the Monet and Chagall exhibitions; she returned to Montpellier via Marseilles to see Picasso at the Cantini Museum.
Her bond with Paris grew progressively stronger and Richarme returned to her roots, when it came to culture and friends; always keeping her sketchbook at hand, she captured the Parisian life into which she assimilated through gouaches and drawings.
in May personal exhibition at the Crillon Gallery in Avignon;
in July Salon de l’Académie vauclusienne “café Bernéro” in Isle-sur-Sorgue;
in November exhibition in Montpellier, shared with the sculptor Avoscan.
An event which would soon take on dramatic proportions for her, took place: “La Vignette”, which she had hoped to acquire, was bought by the state to build the campus for Paul Valéry University; searching for a new house was an urgent matter and she was also very concerned for her husband’s health.
Richarme started to send her paintings to Parisian and regional exhibitions again, with several new destinations, including Valréas, an exhibition that she appreciated and that she would frequent for many years.
The only reading that she noted down was Saint François d’Assise (Joseph Delteil).
In February and March new exhibition of her works in Paris, Gallery 55; the Beauvais Museum acquired one of her drawings. Richarme prolonged her stay for the purpose of artistic meetings, the Indépendants private viewing, the visiting of galleries and exhibitions. Her joy of staying in Paris during the spring was transposed in watercolour studies.
During summer, some artistic events in the South of France: Céret, Cannes; at the end of the year she displayed her Parisian exhibition in Montpellier, at the Galerie Art et Décoration.
In February her canvas Vendanges (Grape Harvests) was exhibited at the Salon Temps Présent in Toulouse and it was selected by the magazine Signatures provinciales. New contacts and group exhibitions, mainly in Paris, at the Duncan Gallery (March). In December fiftieth personal exhibition in Paris at Gallery 55 but, because the profile of the gallery had changed, Richarme got back in touch with Arlette Chabaud, a new resident of rue Bonaparte in Paris.
Richarme en 1962 – Lac des Guarrigues, Montpellier.
Richarme left “La Vignette” that she had lived in for 26 years; during the last days, desperate, her sketchbook in hand, she painted it and drew it from all the angles. In her new house, the clos Adrien, which she called “Psalmodie”, she finally had a studio and a garden, a comfort which gave her artistic life new balance.
Like every time when going through a difficult period, she focused on drawing and created an artist’s book (Oradour-sur-Glane).
In January trip to Dijon for the private viewing of the exhibition Confrontation; she became a member of the Salon des Indépendants, where, in April, she exhibited Nature morte aux volutes (Still Life with Volutes). Visit to the Derain exhibition in Marseilles and the Hugo exhibition in Montpellier; her elder daughter having recently settled in Antibes, in December she exhibited several paintings at the artistic and cultural centre
of that town.
Antibes and the flowers that Janick offered her led her to practise the construction of the bouquet. The wrapping, thanks to its transparency, was an integral part of the composition.
The liberty that she took on the subject would mark the next step in her art.
In March, sixth personal exhibition for Freddy Noël in Paris (Galerie du rond point des Champs Élysées). Richarme used her stay in Paris to make contact with galleries, to visit the André Masson exhibition, to attend the theatre, and to meet old friends, including Françoise Lantz, who acted as her warm and efficient Parisian guide.
Without any plan for an exhibition that year, she read a great deal: Portraits of Women (Sainte-Beuve), Beware of Pity(Stephan Zweig), The Taxis of the Marne and The Best Butter (Jean Dutourd) and she took the time to meet many artists in Montpellier.
As Freddy Noël intended to close his Parisian gallery for personal reasons, she put Madame Gros in charge of taking the necessary steps, which did not prove successful. She returned to Paris for the Paul Guillaume Walter exhibition and met the art critic Robert Vrinat, who offered to put her in touch with the Petrides Gallery; that proposal proved
unsuccessful. She returned via Savoy, where she visited the Museum of Grenoble (Modern Art Section), and through Antibes, in order to study more thoroughly the work of Fernand Léger at the Biot Museum.
At the beginning of the year, a personal exhibition in the Miroir Gallery, for Madame Pérignon, in Montpellier.
Her stay in Antibes to help Janick gave her the opportunity to create many watercolour paintings, especially Christmas illuminations. During her travels, she found new sources of inspiration: both in Paris and in Ile de Batz, from where she brought numerous studies.
But reading continued to be a source of reflection: The Battle of Toulouse (José Cabanis), Le meilleur de la vie (Pierre Gascar), Le livre des psaumes (Chouraqui), A Change of Heart
(Michel Butor), L’idée fixe (Paul Valéry)…
She resumed work on numerous paintings, including La grande Résurrection (The Great Resurrection), Portrait de Marie-Paule (A Portrait of Marie-Paule) and Icare (Icarus).
In March and April, on the occasion of the Salon des Indépendants, where La fête sétoise (The Festival of Sète) was exhibited, she encountered many people and visited the Paul Claudel and Raymonde Aymard exhibitions.
Concerning her readings, she noted: Michelangelo (F. Ivingstone), Recollections of my Youth (Ernest Renan), Letters from Victor Segalen to his wife Yvonne, Structuralism (Lévy Strauss) and the works of Pirandello; she linked the music of Stockhausen to the painter Salavador Dali.
Disappointed, she wrote: “I do not know why… after this May revolution I suddenly felt the weight of life, of age; it seems as though a barrier separates me from everything else… and my old age, which I did not feel or did not want to feel, has suddenly become a wall”.
“8 February: my work is now focused on birds; all current research concentrates on the harmony, vividness and frankness of tones and on their transparency. Moreover, I attempt to free myself of the too defining line and keep only what I choose in order to emphasise expression. »
In April, seventh personal exhibition at Arlette Chabaud’s gallery in Paris, a defining moment for Richarme. At the same time, she could be found at the Salon des Indépendants with Les potirons (The Pumpkins), then at the Salon de la Société des artistes français with Nature morte noire (Black Still Life).
Soon after, she attended the second congress of Plastic Arts organized in Antibes by the Fine Arts Federation, where she discovered the social aspect of painting; Christian Halls, an editor from Monaco, asked for one of her drawings for “10 years of Graphic Arts, 1960-1970”.
Apart from her reading activity — La formation du style (Antoine Albalat), The Stones of the Abbey (Fernand Pouillon),Dangerous Liaisons (Choderlos de Laclos) — she also took an interest in the theatre: Happy Days (Samuel Beckett with Madeleine Renaud) and others.
As for her drawings, the theme of Leda would keep her busy for several months. Richarme started the year with an exhibition at Christian Rouzier in Montpellier, in February and March.
Paris: in March, at the Indépendants, her painting Le rêve (The Dream) received positive reviews; in June, she attended several exhibitions and a private viewing at Terres Latines where she admired the painting Splendide (Splendid) by Gleiny, Le monde de l’espace (The World of Space); she devoted much time to the genius of Bourdelle in Montparnasse. At last, she received a first Mention at the Still Life Awards, in September,
for Nature morte violette (Purple Still Life), and she visited Poliakoffe’s exhibition. In July, she received the Jury prize, awarded by the Salon du Centre Culturel Valéry Larbaud of Vichy for La fête sétoise (The Festival of Sète).
In Antibes, in May, she saw all the work of Pierre Reverdy at the Maeght foundation.
In Perpignan, in November, a personal exhibition at the Galerie de la Main de fer.
Among the literature she read during that time: The life of Jean Moulin by his sister Laure, She Came to Stay (Simone de Beauvoir) and The Safety Matches (Robert Sabatier).
Stay in Paris, where she joined the group of painters from the Indépendants with her painting La joie (The Joy). Among her many acquaintances we can mention the painters Lise Lamour and Jacqueline Pagès Bérard, who would later become her friends. She visited Max Ernst’s exhibition and, thanks to Colette Gallet’s intervention, her plan for an exhibition at Arlette Chabaud’s gallery took shape for 1972. During the summer, she sent another pen and ink drawing to Christian Halls for the exhibition Woman in Contemporary Art.
Reading: The Paper House (Françoise Mallet-Jorris), The Alps (old scientific work from 1888), in anticipation of her family trip to Savoy and Switzerland.
Colette Gallet, whom she encountered at the Indépendants, became her agent; but unfortunately, Arlette Chabaud sold her Parisian gallery, therefore the exhibition planned for autumn could no longer take place.
She was also deeply affected by the death of her friend Françoise Lantz, connected to China through her family and her pictorial adventure.
I am affected by the problems of the galleries (15 January, in a letter to Janick). Those worries tormented her and got in the way of her painting; for a few months, she concentrated on poetry and drawing (the theme of the musicians). Apart from this, she considered it necessary to make a list of her paintings.
Reading: Les Bêtises (Jacques Laurent), The Praise of Folly by Erasmus – complete text (French translation by Pierre de Nolhac).
Richarme included wrapping in her still life paintings in order to organise the space, developing freely the motifs, shapes and volumes. Her compositions alternated between abstract and figurative.
In Paris, she continued her search for galleries and attended the exhibitions of Poiret and Juan Gris. In Montpellier, she failed to find a suitable exhibition place for her paintings and she felt ignored by the local artistic world. But her meeting with Pierre Ducommun would lead to an unexpected offer of help.
A first curative stay in Gréoux, a place favourable to her inspiration: gouache paintings, writing and reading, especially theBible, La détresse de Nietzsche (Louis Vialle); other titles noted that year: All Said and Done (Simone de Beauvoir), O Jerusalem! (Dominique Lapierre), Uncle Vanya (Chekhov), Van Gogh: The Man Suicided by Society (Antonin Artaud).
Richarme became one of the painters at the Pierre Ducommun Gallery where, in December, she presented one of her most brilliant exhibitions, marking a period of fruitful creation.
She began working on a theme proposed by the Indépendants, Odilon Redon, which led her to research documents in the library at Fonftroide Abbey, and later in the Museum of Grenoble.
The Soulages exhibition in the Fabre Museum of Montpellier would mark the beginning of her research into the ideograms: [Soulages] gave me the push start (7 September, in a letter to Janick).
She went to Paris with the main purpose of seeing the exhibition of the Artistes Indépendants organised in March at the Grand Palais, where she said: “I like my canvas despite its figurative frame”. On that occasion she also visited exhibitions of Picabia and her friend, as well as the Ramses II exhibition, which she happened to see while coming along Route de Bruges.
A family reunion in Orange, Southern France, to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of her marriage: Aida at the Antique Theatre of Orange; the play was chosen by her husband, whose health was a source of much anxiety.
Reading: Les Animaux dans la Poesie Francaise de la Renaissance (H. Na?s), Eluard’s Works, Textbook of Prehistoric, Celtic, and Gallo-Roman Archaeology (Dechelette), Freud (Richard Wolhem), Dominique (Fromentin), When China Awakes (Alain Peyrefitte).
Richarme continued to paint despite the worsening of her husband’s health. He died on August 10; Pierre Ducommun gave up painting and closed his gallery.
The Salon des Artistes Indépendants was held in March with Andre Derain’s painting Paradis – Printemps (Paradise – Spring). She also saw Viera da Silva’ works, Andre Masson’s drawings, “Francis Bacon’s horrifying work” (Diary, March 15), Juliette Mills’s Apocalypse of love; on her way back she wrote: “dazzling spring fog in the Rhone Valley”.
In November, she carried out her wish to see the Prado again and El Greco in Toledo.
Reading: Gogol (Henri Troyat), Au plaisir de Dieu (Jean d’Ormesson); her eagerness to learn regularly led her to attend lectures.
Her drawing developed at the same time as her painting: “fascinating work, […] can be very intricate but still transparent and very constructed, veiled figurative art” (Diary, April 10).
In the journal Le Peintre Jean Chabanon wrote an excellent review of her painting Chrysanthèmes (Chrysanthemums) at the exhibition of the Artistes Indépendants.
Her eighth personal exhibition in Paris (November) at the La Roue gallery, rue Gregoire de Tours, run by the painter Mireille Montangerand. She went all over Paris, through its galleries and back to the Antoine Bourdelle museum (where she took notice of the painting Léda and was “dazzled”), she also saw the Le Nain exhibition at the Grand Palais.
She visited the Maeght Fondation: Braque’s and Miro’s graphic works.
Reading: Le Juifs aux Psaumes (Schalom Asch), Ecrits et propos sur l’art (Henri Matisse); she enjoyed listening to Rene Huygues’ lecture, after which she noted down: “a wonderful lesson on Ruben’s ideas” (Diary, January 26); she also took pleasure in seeing the play Les Mains Sales by J.P. Sartre: “a glorious evening” (Diary, February 22).
In February, Richarme went to the opening of the Artistes Indépendants: “my canvas Les Tours is in the hall of great painters… success”. In April and May, she took part in the Salon des Artistes Français in Henri Herault’s group on the subject of “the main thing is the rose” with her work Nature morte rose et gris (Still Life, Pink and Grey). She took advantage of her visit to see the exhibitions “Before the Scythians” and “Chardin” at the Grand Palais and the Kandinsky and Magritte exhibitions at Beaubourg.
In May: an exhibition of her drawings, the fruit of her later research, at the Daniel Kuentz gallery in Montpellier.
In October, she had a meeting with Louise Bourgeois in Paris: an opportunity for “late talks”.
Reading: Life: an Instruction Manual (Georges Perec), La Couleur (Maurice Beriberre),
Poems (Yves Daunes), Letters of a Portuguese (Gabriel-Joseph Guilleragues).
She also saw the play Topaz by Marcel Pagnol, and a concert by the Golden Gate Quartet.
In spring, she sent her painting Mao to the Artistes Indépendants. The closing of the La Roue gallery dismayed her even more about the situation of art galleries; looking for a new place to exhibit her works she contacted the Drouant gallery in Paris and also saw Monet’s works at the Grand Palais.
In Montpellier she exhibited her works at the MG Saint Firmin gallery, which had been recently opened.
She had, as usual, very eclectic tastes in literature: Baudelaire, Andre Chouraqui, Profession Peintre (Elisabeth Faubles),Le Silence (Tony Ritter), Le Journal d’un Createur (Marcel Gromaire).
Richarme stayed in touch with the Salon des Indépendants by sending them her Fumées (Smokes) in March; she also participated in the Salon des Artists Français with Fer forge (Wrought Iron) on the subject of black proposed by Henri Herault, a critic and friend who died that year in August. She officially exhibited her works at the Drouant gallery, faubourg Saint-Honore.
After a vacation in Savoy, later that year she settled in the Praz de Chamonix area where she painted; Richarme wondered about her own vision of mountains and stored up documents. She enjoyed attending Professor Henri Agel’s classes on cinematography and comparative literature (Paul Valéry University in Montpellier). Reading: L’information Litteraire, Fra Angelico (Henry Cochin), Michel Ange (Giovanno Papini).
Colette Richarme en 1981
Colette Richarme en 1981
The artist started her series of sky and sea paintings; she found in the composition of seascapes a subject that she would develop till her death.
That year was focused on preparations for her exhibition at the Drouant gallery in December; the event was met with warm support from her friends in Paris, the Clapas, her family, and especially many painters. As usual, she satisfied her vital concern to see paintings: the exhibitions “The Portait in Italy at the Time of Tiepolo”, Fautrier, Fantin Latour, the Post-Impressionists, Eluard and his friends, Jean-Baptiste Oudry.
Reading: Un Cimetiere Indien (Frederic Jacques Temple), Venise en Hiver (E Robles), James Joyce by Himself, Dialogue sur la Peinture (Armand Drouant), Notes sur Georges Braque (Jacques Dubois).
Richarme tried in vain to find an art gallery for her work in Montpellier.
She received some requests for interviews from journalists, such as Elise Coscia (Agora), or from writers, such as Robert Briatte and Bernard Derrieu. Richarme went to Paris to see the Turner and Balthus exhibitions; when she came back she discovered that her house had been burgled, and was very upset by the incident.
She read Gerard de Nerval, Le Chateau des Tortures (Simone Balazard), Une Femme (biography of Camille Claudel by Anne Delbé), Green Paradise (Max Rouquette).
Since 5 January, Richarme continued her series of seascapes with Le goeland (The Seagull); she drew and painted at the same time on the subject of sirens for an exhibition in Paris despite a worrying rumour that Daniel Drouant was changing his tendencies.
On the occasion of her 80th birthday, R. Briatte gave her, as a gift, his first booklet with texts by Max Rouquette, J.L. Gourg and R. Briatte; the signature of the book took place at the Moliere bookshop on 23 November; there were around fifteen works, mostly on paper, hanging on the wall.
She holidayed in Savoy, Chamonix, where she came back to the subject of mountains and continued her research into painting clouds with gouache, in their construction and symbolic meaning.
The artist took part in the Centenaire des Indépendants (April) with her Inspiration biblique (Biblical Inspiration).
Reading: Perceval le Gallois, (Jose Marty’s thesis on Rohmer’ cinema), Turner en France et en Voyage. In the cinema:Swann in love (Volker Schondorff).
Richarme created many different paintings, happy to work despite tiredness that often overwhelmed her and slowed down her tempo of life. Meditation on space and a character’s integration into his or her environment (Ondine [Undine]).
The artist often played host to her friends, such as Bernard Derrieu (the beginning of a fruitful exchange), Regine Monod, Marie Josee Latorre and her journalist friends who were interested in art.
She took part in the exhibition of the Artistes Inépendants (June-July) with Descente de croix (Descent from the Cross), an old painting of hers. Her friend, the painter Pierre Cayol, introduced her to the Frank Ricci gallery in Avignon.
Reading: La grande Muraille (Claude Michelet), Maira Belloni’s thesis on Proust, Old Age (Simone de Beauvoir), Comme le Sable Entre les Doigts (Chapelain-Midi). Concerts and plays: Let Us Have a Dream (Sacha Guitry with Claude Rich), La Traviata (Verdi).
The last months of the year were glum, “the only joy […] being together, reading the booklet on the sculptor Darde given me by Bernard Derrieu, and the Briattes’ visits”.
Richarme continued working and started to paint her garden when spring burst out.
At the beginning of the year she studied in depth the Courbet exhibition at the Fabre museum; in April, she sent to the Artistes Indépendants Tempete sur l’Atlantique (Storm on the Atlantic Ocean), (Orage a Talmont [Thunderstorm in Talmont]); she was also among the painters chosen by Bob Terschiphorst for his photo exhibition on the subject of “Artist’s Perplexity in Front of a White Canvas”. Later that year she had two personal exhibitions with excellent reviews, one of them at the Daudet gallery in Montpellier (October), the other at the Galerie de l’Atelier in Nimes (November).
Reading: Shanghai au Temps de la Concession Francaise (Charles Meyer), Le corps de Dieu Ou Flambe l’Esprit (Daniel Ange), R. Maria Rilke’s poetry, His Masterpiece (E. Zola), Vie d’Odilon Redon.
Plays: La Tosca (Puccini) in Avignon, Canapé Canapé aux Galas Karsenty, Adrienne Lecouvreur (Siléa) with the singer Teresa Zylis-Gara.
In April, Salon des Indépendants with Sur les bords de la mer de Chine (On the Coast of the China Sea).
The group exhibition “Regional painters” at the Réno gallery (October) in Saint Gely de Fesc; Richarme’s works would be exposed there regularly.
In spite of problems with her memory, these exhibitions helped her to overcome her despondency and to devote herself to the inspiration of the moment: a series of large compositions of royal dimensions with the leitmotif of figures and movements.
Reading: Biography of Henry Miller (Jacques Temple), Michel Ange (Marcel Brion), L’œil du Peintre (Maurice Gresser).
A bit of melancholy, feeling of getting old (Diary, January 1)
In May, Jane Struyve exhibited a large selection of her drawings at the Artothèque, place Petrarque, together with a presentation of the 35th anniversary of painting at the Réno gallery in Saint Gély du Fesc.
In August, the artist proceeded with a small study of three bottles that would become for her a starting point for a new approach to still life painting.
Reading: The epic poem The Frenzy of Orlando (Ludovico Ariosto), Ecrit Dimanche (Georges Dezeuze), La Lettre au Collectionneur (Tobias), Paul Klee, the biography of Kahnweiler.
Play: The Fogs of Manchester (a play staged by Robert Hossein).
The audacity of colours (Diary, the cover page)
Personal exhibitions: in April and May at the Clemenceau gallery in Béziers and in October at the Réno gallery with her seascapes.
Her new objective: to continue the “fascinating work” on the colours and composition of still life paintings. It should be mentioned that she was influenced considerably by Goethe’s work Treaty On Colours and that one of the leitmotifs of her work was that “art lives on sacrifices”.
Reading: H.Berlioz’s correspondence (reminiscences of his youth in the Cote Saint André).
Richarme was concerned about finishing the colourful range of her still life paintings in order to exhibit them at the Réno gallery with the title Harmonies, but unfortunately she had to take to her bed before completing this work.
In May and June, her work La fete (The Holiday) was still exhibited at the Salon des Artistes Français at the Grand Palais on the subject of wine. She was invited by the Paul Valéry museum in Sète to the summer exhibition “Six painters from the Mediterranean region” (Couderc, Desnoyer, Fournel, Richarme, Sarthou, Seguin). This was her last public event.
She continued reading: Histoire de la Musique (L.Rebatet), Joseph Delteil, Qui Etes Vous (R.Briatte), The Baron in the Trees (Italo Calvino). Despite her weakness she went to the theatre: L’Opera de Pekin, Manon (Massenet), Galas Karsenty’s dance school. And so to the year 1991: the only phrase found in her Diary for 1991, together with Françoise Reisse’s annotated article, “Is the fear of death our fate?”
Richarme died in “Psalmodie” on February 27, 1991, and was buried in the old cemetery of Albertville.