pictures are screenprints from the video by Yvan Ducognon
(see documentation) published here with his permission
click pictures to enlarge
Pontcharra is a community of some 6500 inhabitants in the east of France at the foothills of the French Alps, halfway between Chambéry and Grenoble. Along its Avenue du Granier, on a sidestreet from 2001 on an imposing sculpture garden came into being, which in 2016 completely has been emptied: Marcel Vinsard's art environment.
Life and works
Marcel Vinsard (1930-2016) was a barber throughout his entire working life.
In 2001, when he was in his early seventies, just before he retired, he began making sculptures, inspired to do so by a book about the Swiss sculptor and painter Alberto Giacometti. he had received from a friend.
Vinsard, a self-taught artist who called himself a bricoleur (handyman, do-it-yourselver), at the outset made his creations from wood and bark. Later he turned to cellular concrete and then to polystyrene.
All other materials he used consisted of discarded objects, mostly from the local dump, which he visited regularly.
Interviewed in 2013 by a local magazine (Pontch Echos, p. 8) Vinsard said:
"My subjects are very diverse: celebrities from the political and the artistic world, characters I did in the style of famous artists, animals, dreamlike creatures, figurines, totems, compositions of objects. The set is a real museum. I like to give my sculptures bright colors".
Giacometti inspired him indeed. In 2013 Vinsard made some forty sculptures in the style of this sculptor and a poster in the garden read Le seul en France a faire des copies d'Alfredo Giacometti (the only one in France who makes copies of Alfredo Giacometti)
However, these forty sculptures were just a small part of his extensive body of work. By 2015 he had made a thousand creations.
These creations only filled the porch and the garden of his house, they were also lined up along the sidestreet leading to the house.
And then the interior of the house was also abundantly filled with creations. Vinsard lived alone after his wife sadly died around the time he retired.
To all appearances, Vinsard's work was locally and regionally appreciated. Regional tv in april 2013 had a news item about him, but which is also telling, both town halls of the neighbouring cities Grenoble and Chambéry have a sculpture of Vinsard on display.
Vinsard was a friendly man who was very willing to communicate about his work and meet visitors. He passed away July 23, 2016.
In the context of the 6th Biennale Hors Normes (Lyon, 2015) a number of Vinsard's sculptures have been exposed at the Maison des jeunes et de la culture Mon Plaisir (28/9-26/10/2015, Lyon)
All sculptures removed in 2016
After Vinsard died his relatives removed all sculptures in order to sell the property. As reported by Bruno Montpied, the association La Sauce Singuliere could save some 200 artworks, and then a number of artworks have been included in private collections, but it is not impossible that the majority of creations has been demolished.
* Bruno Montpied. Marcel Vinsard, l'homme aux mille modèles. Paris (Ed l'Insomniaque), 2016. -80 p. (Booklet in the series La Petite Brute)
* Video Le jardin extraordinaire de Marcel V, saison 3, by Yvan Ducognon (19'00", april 2014, Youtube)
* Previously Ducognon made video's of Vinsard's art environment, one published january 2013 (27'55") and another one published july 2013 (11'53")
first published april 2015, last revised september 2017
216 avenue du Granier
38530 Pontcharra, dep Isère, France
all sculptures have been removed in 2016