April 22, 2023

Andre Degorças, Le p’tit musée de Loulou / Loulou's little museum

this image (2022) and the next one from Google Maps

Genté is a community of some 900 inhabitants in the French department of Charente. Crossing this village along the departmental road D 148, one will at some point pass a courtyard, separated from the road by a fence of iron bars and richly filled with a variety of creations. This is the art environment of André Degorças, nicknamed Loulou.
Life and works

Degorças was born in Genté in the mid 1940s. In his youth he was interested in construction work and when he was six years old he already built a stone wall with earth as mortar. 

At the age of 17 he completed several months of apprenticeship as a bricklayer and stonemason. Then he worked for a number of years at a mason company in Toulouse, after which in the late 1960s at age 22 he settled as an independent artisan bricklayer in Genté. 

decorations on a wall along the courtyard

It is not known exactly in which year Degorças started making sculptures, but it was probably in the course of the 1970s, when he was well established as a mason in Genté.

The Lille Art Museum's Habitants-Paysagistes website has an entry on him with photos by Francis David, made in 1983 and 1989, of the sculptures Degorças had created and arranged around the house where he lived in the 1980s.  

this photo (1989) courtesy of Francis David 

The image above shows Degorças in the middle of two sculptures that are quite representative of the type of sculptures he made during that period, namely artisans, such as the man with the wine glasses on the left, and celebrities, such as the lady in the long white dress on the right.

At some point after the 1980s, André Degorças moved into the house with the yard along the D148. The image below shows four of the sculptures of the ensemble of the 1980s in their new housing. One recognizes the man with the wine glasses and the lady in the white dress. 

this image is a screenprint from the video 
in the documentation

The new location and the size of the courtyard probably inspired Degorças to further elaborate on the nature of the creations that could be situated there.

There are sculptures, even in large numbers, but they are made of white stone and for a large part small in size.

Animals are now also depicted, for example there is a mast topped with three huge winged ants. And snails are also among Degorças' favourites, such as the giant winged snail on a surfboard in the image below and the snail on the edge of a roof in the second image from above.

above left a winged snail on a surfboard
image from Google Maps

In his art environment, Degorças also expressed his passion for astronomy and extraterrestrial life, for example by making a wire mesh flying saucer, controlled by two stone alien characters.

A new feature of the site is a fresco that was still under development when in 2022 the very first image of this post appeared on Google Maps. The green area at the back center of this image represents a vineyard as found in the Charente. The intention is that it will include a bunch of grapes, a bottle of champagne, a harvester and other characteristic elements.

The next two images show Degorças in his studio. There are cupboards here, richly filled with small sculptures,

André Degorças enters his workshop
this image and the next one screenprints from
the video in the documentation

André Degorças' house is located in the French department of Charente in the Nouvelle-Acquitaine region. In the field of art environments it is assumed that artists who are active in this field have a relatively isolated existence. 

However, this is not the case for Degorças.

For example, he knew and visited Lucien Favreau (1912-1990), who decorated his garden and house in Yviers, also located in the department of Charente, 50 km south of Genté. He advised Favreau not to make the decorations on the wall of his house with ordinary paint, but with tinted cement solution.

Degorças also was visited by Gabriel Albert (1904-2000) and Franck Vriet (1931-2017), who knew each other well and lived about seven kilometers apart. In turn, Degorças visited Albert and Vriet's creations

Albert is known for his still existing sculpture garden in Nantillé, 34 km north of Genté. Vriet also decorated the space around his house with all kinds of sculptures, but most of these creations disappeared after his death. 

André Degorças at work

Article (August 2011) in regional newspaper Sud Ouest
* Article (March 2014) in regional newspaper Charente Libre
* Article (September 2014) once more in regional newspaper Sud Oust
* Entry on website Habitants-Paysagistes (Lille Art Museum)
* Website l'Inventaire of the Nouvelle-Aquitaine region with an entry about creators of art environments in the region visiting each other

* Video by Vidéoguide Nouvelle-Aquitaine entitled The inspired by the roadsides, who are they?
(March 2023, YouTube), with scenes of Degorças' art environment from 2.40-2.50 and from 4.48-5.14

André Degorças
Le p'tit musée de Loulou
Rue de Reigniers 12
16130 Genté, dept Charente, region Nouvelle-Aquitaine, France
can be seen from the street

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