Cocteau, love and art
"The verb to love is difficult to conjugate:
its past is not simple,
its present is only indicative
and its future is always conditional.”
Difficult to conjugate, but not impossible: witness the entire oeuvre of Jean Cocteau.. Throughout his life, he never stopped wanting to create art about love—extraordinary love in The White Book; sublimated love in the film The Eagle with Two Heads; doomed love in Orpheus; desperate love in the play The Human Voice.
"Beauty and the Beast"
Guided by ephemeral angels, like Raymond Radiguet, or by strong, lasting relationships, such as the one with Jean Marais, love was one of the most powerful driving forces behind Cocteau's creativity. He saw writing only as an act of love, and the same was probably true of drawing. His unmistakable pen and pencil strokes are a continuous to-and-fro between his visions, his desires, his dreams and the reality he so keenly portrays.
Shortly before the end of the Second World War, Cocteau began working on one of his great masterpieces: Beauty and the Beast, a film based on the tale by Jeanne-Marie Leprince de Beaumont. Wanting to breathe a little wonder and enchantment into a century shaken by the dark years that had just passed, he wrote the screenplay—a document now listed as a national treasure by the French State—and illustrated it with drawings, including this one, dated 1944.
Cocteau’s timeless words still resound today:
"I was the Beast. Only a look of love could make me a man and give me the form of your dream. Belle... I love you...”
A drawing by Jean Cocteau
Jean Cocteau’s family encouraged his early interest in drawing and passion for theatre. His father’s suicide when he was just nine years old deeply affected him. Failing the baccalaureate four times dissuaded him from continuing his studies: another destiny awaited him. In Paris, when he was just 18, he quickly made a name for himself in literary salons. In 1909, he co-founded a review with Maurice Rostand, publishing articles, drawings and, in February, his first collection of poems, La Lampe d’Aladin (Aladdin’s Lamp). This marked the start of a long, rich, varied artistic adventure strewn with books (novels, poems and essays), films and plays (Les Parents terribles, written in eight days) on which he collaborated with legendary artists, including Pablo Picasso, Coco Chanel, Serge Diaghilev and Édith Piaf. The poet, as he liked to call himself, could paint frescoes, turn pebbles into works of art, make stained-glass windows, design costumes and stage sets—the list goes on. He died in Milly-la-Forêt, his last home. His final resting place is the chapel he decorated, Sainte-Blaise-des-Simples.
He asked for these simple words to be written in his hand on his grave: "I am still with you.”
Framed in large format
Wood frame, made and assembled in France.
The document is displayed in a 33 cm x 43 cm frame.
Each frame is hand-assembled in our workshops in Cambremer.
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