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Eugène Dodeigne (1923-2015): A Retrospective

7 November 2020 – 7 February 2021

To
reconnect with its public after lockdown, La Piscine has made a strong symbolic
move to present a great sculptor with links to the region. Eugène Dodeigne is
not only a key figure of contemporary French sculpture, to which he made a very
unique contribution that is recognised throughout the world, but also one of
the leading figures of the Roubaix Group.

Born in Belgium in 1923, Eugène Dodeigne quickly
became naturalised as a French citizen when his parents settled in the Nord
region. Born with close connections to the stone trade, he descended from a
family of stonemasons from the Soignies region, where this beautiful, yet
hard-to-sculpt, stone comes from. Having learned the trade from the age of 13
from his marble-maker father, he showed promise for this work, which was
spotted at the School of Fine Arts of Tourcoing, and later at the school of
Paris, leading him to take it up as a profession. He was soon supported by
regional collectors. Jean Masurel put him up in 1948 and Philippe Leclercq was
to become a true patron of his work, especially through his efforts to
associate himself with the construction of the Saint-Thérèse chapel in Hem.
Represented by the Dujardin and Renar galleries of Roubaix, it was at the
Marcel Evrard gallery that he held his first personal exhibitions in 1952 and
1955. The artist then worked with wood creating smooth and rounded shapes,
which are worthy successors to the works of Brancusi and Arp. There he met
Germaine Richier who introduced him to the artistic milieu of Paris. From then
on, he participated in the Salon de Mai where he exhibited annually until 1965.
From this period onwards, the exhibitions came thick and fast. His works were
displayed in Paris. The Claude Bernard, Pierre Loeb and Jeanne Bucher galleries
organised major exhibitions for him and showcased the stones he had been
sculpting since 1956, as well as the expressionist bronzes he began creating
from 1963. Not to be outdone, his sculptures started to pop up in foreign
countries starting with Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, as well as many
public places and museum parks around the world. His Soignies stones became
monumental in size with shapes torn from the substrate material depicting Man
and the human condition.

This retrospective exhibition takes a fresh look
at the artist, which is much less “monolithic” than previously
thought, by reconsidering his work in all its richness. As well as the Soignies
stones – his unmistakable trademark – there will be exhibits made of plaster,
wood, bronze, terracotta in addition to drawings, paintings and pieces of
furniture, covering a creative period of nearly 60 years, with a collection –
the largest ever assembled – of 200 works.

Curator Germain Hirselj,
Alice Massé and Bruno Gaudichon

Designer Cédric Guerlus – Going Design

Catalogue published by the publisher Invenit

This exhibition received the support of the Hauts-de-France Region and
the Métropole Européenne de Lille. It is benefiting from the exceptional
patronage of the CIC Nord Ouest, a loyal partner of La Piscine museum and
generous support from Notre Logis and M comme Mutuelle. The exhibition design
was completed thanks to generous support of the Couleurs de Tollens paints.

See also