May 11, 2014

Louis Auffret, La campagne/The countryside


as published in Gazogène nr 21 (2000)

Louis Auffret's art environment in southern France, meanwhile no more extant, to my knowledge has only been described by one author: Marielle Magliozzi.

She did a thesis in which she studied the phenomenon of bricolage (DIY, home crafts) in relation with outsider art, using the art environments of Chomo, Bodan Litnianski, facteur Cheval, André Bindler, Robert Vasseur and Louis Auffret, the one in this post, as examples 

The (re-edited) thesis became available to the general public as Art Brut, architectures marginales. Un art du bricolage. Paris, 2008.

Life and works

Born in Bretagne in a family of farmers, Louis Auffret (1918-2006) after finishing his primary education held various jobs, to become around 1938 a sports instructor in the french army. He participated in the second world war and in the french war in former Indochina. His military service took him to continents like Africa and Asia, which may have influenced his view of the world.

In 1953, after he had left the army, he settled in the community of Six-Fours-les-Plages on the mediteranean coast in southern France.  He married and the couple got a son, but due to a traffic accident his wife tragically died in 1957.


In the late 1950's Auffret began to decorate the exterior of his house, which in those years was located in a still quite and rural part of the community (Hence it's name La Campagne, the countryside).

His first creation was a bas relief in remembrance of the birth of his son, added to the exterior wall of the house, near the entrance. Using all kinds of left-over material, Auffret continued decorating the exterior of the property, untill it was abundantly covered with frescoes, mosaics and other adornments.

Thereafter Auffret has been active for over thirty years in transforming the garden into an art environment by constructing columns, arches and other assemblies, all  provided with ornaments, small sculptures, frescoes or drapings.


Marielle Magliozzi, who visited and interviewed Auffret in 1999, observed that the site consisted of a number of interrelated elements scattered around the grounds, such as the dwelling house itself, some cottages, and various customized (and abundantly decorated) pleasant places to enjoy the outdoors, such as an outdoor kitchen, a porched spot with a large oven, an outdoor shower......... 

The interrelation of these constructions was expressed in the corresponding ways of decorating and the use of contruction materials.

When Magliozzi did the interview, Auffrets son already was living in the main house and Auffret himself stayed in the cottage. In the interview Auffret gave evidence that he and his son had different opinions about the value of a garden decorated with creative constructions.

At the time of the interview the main house already had been modernized by removing the decorations and as far as I know the decorative aspects of the garden have been removed in 2004, two years before Auffret died.

Currently, because of ongoing urbanization, the property is surrounded by houses and it's rural character is history.

Documentation
Marielle Magliozzi, "La 'campagne' du Breton du Var", in: Gazogène nr 21 (2000) (In this article, upon which my post draws, Auffret is named "Père Louis", after his death in publications his full name would be used)
* Marielle Magliozzi, article in Raw Vision nr 49 (2004/2005)
* Marielle Magliozzi,  Art Brut, architectures marginales. Un art du bricolage.  Paris (l'Harmattan), 2008. -322 p.

Louis Auffret
La Campagne
Six-Fours-les-Plages
Var, France
no longer extant

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