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The thought nourished by art of Jacques Lacan
la-pensee-nourrie-dart-de-jaques-lacan - ARTACTIF
March 2024 | Reading time: 21 Min | 0 Comment(s)

About “Lacan, the exhibition – When art meets psychoanalysis”, visible at the Center Pompidou-Metz until May 27.

The idea is brilliant. To attract crowds to an exhibition in the Grand Est which develops the thoughts of a psychoanalyst... we had to dare. Because Jacques Lacan (1901-1981) may be famous, his concepts are nonetheless very obscure for ordinary mortals... I therefore think that the loan by the Musée d'Orsay of Gustave's famous work of art Courbet entitled “The origin of the world” is THE key. Especially since it ultimately belonged to Jacques Lacan himself, who had it hidden behind a painting specially commissioned from the artist André Masson, the legitimacy of its presence here cannot absolutely be doubted. . Those who have never had the opportunity to see this tight shot of a female genitals other than on reproductions are now jubilant at the prospect of being able to take selfies in front of the sulphurous canvas known to the whole world! Because since the lawsuit filed and won in 2018 by the French justice system against Facebook which deleted the accounts of its subscribers posting The Origin of the World, the work of art painted in 1866 really no longer has any reason to hide. .

But before reaching this “carrot”, visitors to “Lacan, the exhibition – When art meets psychoanalysis”, at the Center Pompidou-Metz, will of course first have to walk the entire route allowing them to understand the unique and complex figure of Jacques Lacan, friend of the Surrealists, close to Merleau-Ponty and Claude Lévi-Strauss, remaining to this day one of the most influential thinkers in the entire world. In any case, the one who once stated that the artist always precedes the psychoanalyst. A theory today at the origin of this exhibition, in truth as fascinating as it is unprecedented, around its links with art and artists, bringing together more than 350 works of art including eminent masterpieces, like Caravaggio's Narcissus.

“How can we democratize access to one of the most demanding, often tortuous, thoughts of the past century? » asks Emmanuelle Lequeux in her article for the January issue of Beaux Arts Magazine. “The model of (this) exhibition could prove ideal, which perfectly serves the objective of the four curators (two psychoanalysts and two art historians): to evoke the most eminent rival of Sigmund Freud not as a visionary, but like a man who helped to see. »

As the journalist from Beaux Arts Magazine recalls, “from the 1930s to the end of his life, in September 1981, Lacan surrounded himself with the most diverse artists, accompanying them with his thoughts, also feeding on them. Before the war, he was part of the very secret Acephale society, orchestrated by Georges Bataille. He associates with Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Albert Camus, Valentine Hugo (…) He is also the only one, with Jean-Luc Godard, to applaud the film Daddy (1973) in which Niki de Saint Phalle denounces the abuse of his incestuous father (Lacan undoubtedly loved the paradox of bearing such a name inherited from his abusive father). Not one of his famous seminars at the Ecole Normale Supérieure, followed by the entire intelligentsia of the time, is without an allusion to a painting, a sculpture..."

It is therefore ultimately surprising to note that if tributes and exhibitions have already considered most of the intellectual figures such as Roland Barthes, Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida and Gilles Deleuze, Lacan's thought remained to this day, on the museum plan, unexplored. While the latter maintained a really very strong relationship with works of art. Lacan in fact frequented Salvador Dalí, André Masson, Georges Bataille... He was the doctor of Pablo Picasso or even the psychiatrist (not very inspired, however) of the neglected Dora Maar... never ceasing to draw on the art of all the time for his teaching. More than 40 years after the psychoanalyst's death, the exhibition at the Center Pompidou-Metz therefore explores Lacan's privileged relationships with art by resonating both the works of art that he himself indexed, the artists who have paid homage to his thought, and the modern and contemporary works which echo the major conceptual articulations of this famous thought.

Where we see that Lacan ultimately opens an innovative field which is at the heart of our modernity and our current affairs. Because don't we struggle today with problems of sex, love, identity, gender, power, beliefs or disbelief? So many questions on which the psychoanalyst has provided valuable guidance.

The journey is to be seen and experienced as a journey through specifically Lacanian notions, starting with the mirror stage, which has fascinated many artists and filmmakers. Then the concept of lalangue is questioned, a word invented by Lacan to designate a form and a function of language more in touch with what the psychoanalyst describes as real, and which resonates with the work of artists who have played with words, double meaning, babble, even the language of birds, without forgetting the relationship to poetry. The Name-of-the-Father section is an opportunity to rethink the patriarchal notion. The section of the object a then opens, an invention of Lacan to qualify the object cause of desire as lack, remainder and fall, which will unfold in multiple orientations: fall, phallus, breast, fragmented body, shit, voice, nothing, look and, finally, hole.

The section Woman does not exist is dedicated to Lacan's famous formula which insists on the fact that there is no essence of woman. It allows us to show the works of artists who put misogynistic representations into perspective. Femininity is often multiple, and the masquerade section pays homage to the concept of the British psychoanalyst Joan Rivière, taken up by Lacan. The masquerade is at work among many artists who resort to cross-dressing, confirming Lacan's position for whom anatomy is not destiny, namely that gender does not necessarily correspond to the sex assigned at birth.

According to Lacan's famous formula, there is no sexual relationship. This is the title of a section organized around the replica of Duchamp's Large Glass, in which the enjoyment of the bride in the upper register takes place without there being any physical contact with the bachelors in the lower register. Love, which for Lacan is “that which makes up for the absence of sexual relations”, is nevertheless what opens one to enjoyment – “Only love allows enjoyment to condescend to desire”. A section explores enjoyment, feminine first, whose peak Lacan locates in the mystical ejaculations figured in Bernini's The Ecstasy of Saint Teresa, and which find contemporary avatars in the works of Anselm Kiefer, ORLAN, until to the performances of the Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence.

The last years of the psychoanalyst's teaching gave pride of place to topology, Borromean knots, Moebius strips and other Klein bottles. Finally, the last section of the exhibition reflects Lacan's interest in the knots and braiding of François Rouan, an artist he met at the Villa Medici and for whom he wrote a text, as much as the influence of topological concerns. of Lacan on contemporary artists.


Valibri en RoulotteArticle written by Valibri in Roulotte

Illustration: René Magritte, The False Mirror, 1928
Oil on canvas, 54 x 80.9 cm
© Adagp, Paris, 2023 / Photo © Digital image, The Museum of Modern Art, New York/Scala, Florence

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