December 29, 2017

Jean Bertholle, Girouettes / Weather-vanes

picture by La Fabuloserie

The picture above shows an island on the grounds of the outsider art museum La Fabuloserie, in Dicy, France, with an arrangement of in particular a number of girouettes ("wind vanes" or also "whirligigs").

These creations were made by Jean Bertholle,  an outsider artist I quite some time wanted to add to this weblog, but about whom so little information was available, that I preferred to wait for more.

Now that also Bruno Montpied in his recently published very comprehensive survey of French art environments Le gazouillis des éléphants confirms that the information is limited indeed, it's time to publish anyway what is known about this self-taught artist.

Life and works

Jean Bertholle (1910-2002) had a job in Châtillon-sur-Seine (in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, France), where he worked in a factory that produced shoe heels. Retired in 1974, he began making girouettes and other creations, which he displayed in the garden of his house ¹.

Bertholle lived in Chamesson (a community some 10 km south of Châtillon-sur-Seine in the same region), where he was known as "Toto" and as a sabotier (someone who makes clogs). Some distant family members (cousins) still live in the community. In general, the inhabitants are not aware that Bertholle's art environment ever existed ².

At a given time, in the 1980s or 1990s, Bertholle's creations will have been transferred to la Fabuloserie. This private museum about outsider art in Dicy, located in the same region as Chamesson, was opened in 1983.

The open air part of the museum includes various creations from French art environments that for some reason ceased to exist and were saved by Alain de Bourbonnais, the founder of the museum (More about la Fabuloserie in the page in this weblog about Museums and Collections)

* Bruno Montpied, Le Gazouillis des Éléphants, Paris (Eds du Sandre), 2017, p 133-134 
* Video, published by La Fabuloserie on Facebook, August 6, 2016

¹ this info from the book by Bruno Montpied who notes that the info is based on the publication  "Des jardins imaginaires au jardin habité: des créateurs au fil des saisons. Hommage à Caroline Bourbonnais", La Fabuloserie, Dicy, 2015
² personal communication by Fabien Ansault (Galerie, museum of curiosities and café des Z'uns Possible in Chamesson)

Jean Bertholle
originally displayed in the garden of his house in 
Chamesson, Cote d'Or, region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France
currently displayed in 
La Fabuloserie, Dicy (from 2016 part of Charny-Orée-de-Puisaye), same region, France

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