The André Escard Documentation 358 documents dans la collection
André Escard was born in Paris on 3 January 1920. He attended Lycée Henri-IV and then went on to enrol in the Faculty of Law, where he obtained his Bachelor’s degree. During this period in his life, he developed a love of literature and cinema. He was called up in 1940 and joined the Resistance in 1943 as a member of the Haut-Jura Maquis, under the nickname “Rimb”, which he earned due to his admiration for the poet Rimbaud, whose writings he knew by heart. When the war ended, he set off for Ivory Coast where he was appointed administrator to the Governor of Abidjan’s office. Very much in favour of African independence, he made contact with Félix Houphouët-Boigny and went on to work for the African Agricultural Union (SAA). After Ivory Coast’s proclamation of independence on 7 August 1960, he became Secretary-General of the country’s Chamber of Commerce and Industry. Escard returned to France in 1983 due to health problems. He started on a lengthy convalescence and settled in “Les Crapottes” in Dammarie-sur-Loing for his retirement. In 1984, he began to take an interest in art brut and singular art, setting off on a series of travels in France and abroad. Accompanied by his wife Michou, he discovered visionary environments and met with their creators, then referred to as “singular artists”. Jean-Claude Caire suggested that he share his encounters by writing articles for the Bulletin de l’Association les Amis de François Ozenda. His first article was published in 1992 in issue 46, under the title “Les pérégrinations d’André Escard”. He went on to publish articles for Jean-François Maurice’s art brut journal Gazogène and Marie Morel’s magazine Regard. André Escard died on 21 December 2008.
WORK METHOD :
When André Escard was taken with a work he saw in a magazine or exhibition, he kept the article or exhibition documents concerned in order to create a record of the artist. He then tried to contact him and set up an interview, taking photographs of his work when they met. He could take as many as 200 photographs during a single visit. He then developed two copies of each photo (one for himself and the other for the artist) and glued them onto 50x65-cm sheets of white Bristol paper. He wrote the name of the artist or place visited on front of the sheet, in the upper right hand corner. He also attached any other documents he possessed on the artist or connected with the encounter and added annotations. Only one side of the sheet contained such information. He then wrote an article on the artist or place concerned and sent his manuscript to Sonja Dreux to be typed up, as his handwriting was hard to read. The typescript was then sent to Jean-Claude Caire to be published in the Bulletin de l’Association les Amis de François Ozenda.
THE COLLECTION :
In 2004, his documentation comprised 9,191 record sheets arranged in 19 wooden storage bins on casters, each one containing three partitions. The number of sheets per artist varies enormously; from anything between one and a hundred. After discovering a work, if he did not manage to contact its creator he only included the artist’s name and the article he had unearthed on the record sheet. Sheets could be added to over the course of the years. When he saw an artist on frequent occasions and they became friends, the number of record sheets he produced increased significantly, as is the case with Raymond Reynaud, Raymond Dreux, Danielle Jacqui and Marie Morel. When there were several sheets on one and the same artist, he grouped them together in a cardboard portfolio, with sheets classified in alphabetical order. Escard created record sheets on museums, exhibition venues, galleries, festivals, and visionary gardens and environments as well. He also grouped various pieces of information together by continent and arranged his publications in order.
During his lifetime, Escard’s documentation was stored at his house. After his death, it was transferred to the headquarters of the Amis de Gazogène association in Bélaye, in the département of Lot, before being donated to the LaM, Lille Métropole Musée d’art moderne, d'art contemporain et d'art brut.
- La documentation d'André Escard