A drawing… a line! Dispersion of the Felix Schivo workshop at auction
“I have done nothing in art that has not been the expression of a deep motivation, an emotion, a desire to keep a trace, everything being fleeting.” It only took a few hours for the firm Crait + Muller to disperse the workshop of the French sculptor and engraver Félix Schivo (1924-2006) at Drouot it March 18th last. About 300 lots composed of statues, plasters, engravings and drawings, retracing the prolific career of this distinguished artist who received numerous awards Grand Prix du Salon (1979), Taylor Prize (1992) and Dumas-Millier Sculpture Prize from the Academy of Fine Arts (1993). An opportunity to see his talents as an engraver pass through the hands of the auctioneers.
Born into a family of craftsmen in Tarascon, Félix Schivo has studied in Avignon before attending theEcole Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-arts de Paris where he meets Caesar. Finally, he completes his training with the master-waiter doucier Camille Quesnevill. In addition to the many public commissions (bust of the couturier Christian Dior for the garden of the museum in Grandvillebust of Stefan Zweig for the luxembourg garden in Paris or the monument to Thomas Couture in Senlis) that he received throughout his career, Félix Schivo produces numerous engravings, several series of which are kept in public collections in France (Fonds National d’Art Contemporain de La Défense, Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris). His technical mastery allows him to treat his subject in a different and innovative way.
In the years 1960, Félix Schivo is interested in the work of mime Marcel Marceau and his character Beepinvented in 1947. He follows his productions on stage, crunches them on the spot and reflects on the actor’s attitudes: laughter, sadness, nonchalance. This work of 28 engravings and drawings made with Chinese ink and walnut stain are entitled“Mime and life. The mime in life.”The wavy line reflects this fine observation of movement and gestures. Its line is sharp, hatched, scribbled, the line biting, jerky in order to make “thethe mime on stage, elegant, supple, dynamic, light… stretched.». He pays particular attention to the hands“queens in the mime show. They seem to have a lifelong talent. Expressive: terribly sovereign, exceptionally long.”A rather expressionist style that contrasts with the regularity of the engravings of the series named “Les Charpentes (de Saint-Eustache)”. This geometric set dated from 1973 brings it closer to Piranesi8 engravings where the power of architecture is revealed in its deep and intense blacks. The line is straight, precise and angular. The beams weave shadows and light and highlight the architecture of the building, revealing a singular beauty. The drawings are in between figurative and abstract. The wood grain, the twisted boards, everything breathes strength and mystery. What he himself notes“These great contrasts give it this dimension, this atmosphere… of power, and plunge us into a mysterious maze, where the density of the Shadows multiplies the Volumes to the Infinite and causes a feeling of sacred fear…”
In the engraving, Félix Schivo is more freely delivered than in sculpture. The series of 32 engravings and drawings on Venice, dated from 1978presents churches, gondolas, canals, rendered in a truthful way without any false pretence. A Venice solitary that the engraver knew how to make authentic and devoid of artifice. This series presents several techniques drypoint, etching, aquatint, black stone and watercolours, showing the extent of the artist’s knowledge.
It is an extraordinary modernity that emerges from the engraved works of Félix Schivo. If some drawings are only simple exercises, such as copying from old masters or from the old one, it is quite different for the engraving whose capacities he uses. Poetry and sincerity emerge from these visions which he offers as a concentrate of pure emotions
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