December 22, 2015

Ludovic & René Montégudet, l'Étang fleurie/the flowery pond

l'Étang fleurie on an old postcard

This entry is about father and son Montégudet from the community of Lépinas in France. who in succession made an art environment near a pond owned by the family.

Ludovic Montégudet

Montégudet Sr (1903-1981) was an agrarian living in Lépinas, who also was the mayor of the community from 1947 until 1953.

In 1967, retired, he wanted to do something for the inhabitants of Lépinas and he got the idea to do this by transforming the banks of a pond near where he lived, into a walking area, made attractive by nice stagings.

As the postcard above shows, Montégudet made a variety of creations. Part of this art environment consisted of built structures such as a round table, a mill and a belfry with an horloge parlante (a talking clock).

this picture and the next one cut outs from an old postcard

And there was a scene with a small boat with five standing persons who probably represent Indians

However, the major part of the staging consisted of all kinds of wooden sculptures, such as an Adam and Eve, various animals such as a raven, a fox, a lion, a rat, a butterfly, a grasshopper, which depicted in various combinations the in France well known fables of Lafontaine.

The Monster of Loch Ness was also present, as well as a representation of the mysterious warlord Roland à Roncevaux from Charlemagne's time.

The inhabitants of Lépinas welcomed the site and made good use of it, for example for the staging of wedding pictures and to have a lunch or make their outing on Sunday afternoon. Visitors could consume something at a buffet.

this picture and the next ones (summer 2015) 
courtesy of Julia Sisi/Dan Casado

Montégudet, who had no education in making sculptures at all, mainly used wood he collected in the forest. The rather perishable creations had to be maintained regularly and thereby his son René lent a helping hand.

Montégudet's art environment was presented at the large exposition in 1978 in Paris Les singuliers de l'art: des inspirés aux habitants-paysagistes.  

After Montégudet Sr died in 1981, René Montégudet and his wife decided to store the sculptures in a separate shed near the family farm. It became a well-ordered private museum, not open to the public, a safe place for the fragile sculptures, included (four of the five) Indians, who watch the collection from the attic.

Except for some remnants, the site gradually disappeared and after some time the Étang fleurie was history. The area near the pond is private property and it can't be entered any more.. 

René Montégudet

This situation lasted until around 1995. Then René Montégudet, who was in his fifties, began creating a new art environment, making rather realistic sculptures from concrete, mainly depicting animals. He displayed these creations on a rocky and hilly garden located along a small road opposite the family home.

Although he had helped his father in repainting the wooden sculptures and also had contributed some items to the original art environment, such as a wooden creation that welcomed visitors, all his life he was not really a man of hammer and chisel. 

So he had to recognize that something had happened to him and that he had become a self taught artist. His robust creations testify to a confident approach of and a familiarity with the material he used.

Montégudet Jr made the sculptures in his workshop, and then transported them with the help of friends to their spot on the rocky setting.

Since the internet hardly has pictures of René Montégudet's creations, and this art environment in my opinion deserves the attention of those who are interested in this subsection of the artworld, this post, thanks to Julia Sisi and Dan Casado, has more pictures than usual.

* La dynastie des Montégudet, inspirés de père en fils, published august 2009 by Bruno Montpied on his weblog Le Poignard Subtilpart 1 and part 2
* Above articles, supplemented with an introduction to an exposition of Ludovic Montégudet's creations, in: Bruno Montpied, Éloge des jardins anarchiques, Montreuil-sur-Bois (Ed l'Insomniaque), 2011, p 109-116

Ludovic Montégudet
l'Étang fleurie
not extant anymore, sculptures in private keeping
René Montégudet
Sculpture garden
can be seen from the road, people are welcome to make pictures
Le Terrade
23150 Lépinas, dept Creuze, region Nouvelle Aquitaine, France