Jan and Joël Martel (1896-1966) The monument to Debussy
Exhibition from 17 February to 26 May 2024
During the spring of 2024, La Piscine is joining forces with Villa Cavrois to pay tribute to the sculptors Jan and Joël Martel (1896-1966) who were very close to the architect Robert Mallet-Stevens and who participated in the construction of the large modernist residence built in Croix, in the inner suburbs of Roubaix, for a major local textile business leader. Opened in 1932, this modern palace is the strict contemporary of the Roubaix swimming pool and the installation, in Paris, of a monument to Claude Debussy on which the sculpting twins had been working since the composer’s death. Initially planned for Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the musician’s hometown, this tribute was finally installed on boulevard Lannes, in Paris, near the iconic rue Mallet-Stevens where the Martels had their workshop and apartments, also built according to the architect’s plans. From the first concept of 1919 to the final design of 1932, the monument evolved from a complex construction in keeping with a highly Symbolist aesthetic to a clear expression of Art Deco classicism.
All the sculptures and drawings relating to this project kept by La Piscine eloquently tell the story of this complex journey and convey the chaotic twists of fate which are a common feature of many of the stories behind the public monuments of the generation. The exhibition file planned by the museum focuses on a very valuable Martel collection as part of the museum’s modern sculpture collection. Some works in private hands, borrowed for the occasion, will be conveniently added to this legacy presentation.
Commission: Bruno Gaudichon, head curator, La Piscine – André Diligent Museum of Art and Industry of Roubaix, with the assistance of Emmanuel Bréon, honorary head curator of heritage, curator of the exhibition at Villa Cavrois.
The design was made possible thanks to generous support from the paints distributed by Tollens.
Private viewing Friday 16 February 2024 from 6pm
Key: Jan and Joël Martel, Flute player. Around 1922. Graphite pencil on paper, 22.7 x 21.6 cm
Roubaix, La Piscine – musée d’art et d’industrie André Diligent (André Diligent art and Industry Museum) Donation of Mathieu Néouze in 2016.
Photo: Alain Leprince © ADAGP, Paris, 2023