When Mennessons was looking for a sense of life and art around the 1950s, an article by Albert Gleizes in the Revue Art, seemed to him to express exactly what he felt at that time. Therefore he wrote to him, wanting to study and work with him. Following a positive response, he left for a summer and stayed two years, sharing his passion for life as well as his daily work. In Gleizes’ circle of painter friends he took part in several exhibitions, in Ile sur la Sorgue among others. Gleizes’ tragic death during a simple medical operation left Mennessons totally at an end. He was one of his pall-bearers at the cemetery. The return to Paris was to be one of the most difficult periods of his life.
Gleizes believed in his future as an artist and corrected his work, as is demonstrated by a tracing of Gleizes on one of Mennessons’ works, Pluie (rain) of 1951. Elsewhere he offered him the 1919 work Portrait of Madame Juliette Roche-Gleizes, presented in the thoughtful Albert Gleizes catalogue.
More on the Albert Gleizes website.
In 1949 Mennessons visited a Henri Laurens’ exhibition at the Dina Vierny gallery. Wanting to meet the sculptor, he wrote to him without relying on a recommendation and although Laurens, who protected himself against what he called “the dirty side of glory” because it attracted the unasked for, having seen this letter, he agreed to see him. Between them a real friendship was to develop.
As he appreciated and understood his temperament, Laurens met Mennessons to warn him against the temptation of taking a fine arts course at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in Paris. Laurens often invited Mennessons to his home and in 1950 Mrs Marthe Laurens gave her husband a Mennessons painting that he liked as a present. This was Mennessons’ first sale.
When Mennessons stayed for nearly two years at Saint Rémy de Provence with Albert Gleizes, Laurens visited him there. The painting Terre: Henri Laurens (“Earth: Henri Laurens”), which the sculptor loved, shows his visits. He suggested to Mennessons to return to Paris without delay to take part in the Paris art scene.
In 1954, when Mennessons finally returned to Paris after Gleizes’ death, Laurens invited him to the Salon de Mai, where he exhibited his Grande Nuit (“Big Night”). He died unexpectedly in this same Salon. It was in this way that Mennessons lost, in less than one year, the two masters he had chosen and with those that he had forged close artistic and friendship bonds with. This dual hardship left him alone and overwhelmed on his difficult path to becoming a painter.
Like his contemporary Richard Lohse, Max Bill was a significant player in Swiss German concrete art. Both were elder than Mennessons, Lohse was born in 1902 and Bill on 1908. During one of Mennessons’ trips to Switzerland he decided to contact Bill. In 1976, as he appreciated Mennessons’ works, Bill received him at his home workshop.
Discover the Max Bill website
This Breton painter got to know Mennessons around 1948, when he left his region for Paris. Thépot For him, his work was about the search for profound order, as it is in life. He did as life did. He is gone but it remains a witness of peace and life worked in a pottery workshop held by the Anderlin brothers, and his meeting with Mennessons, who was as passionately engaged as Mennessons was in art, combined with the warm reception from Mennessons’ parents at Vincennes, created a strong bond of friendship which would last throughout their lives. Bit by bit he discovered constructive art, which he practiced from the 1960s onwards. In “Mémoires d’un marginal”, published in 1992 by the publishers Editions Témoignage in Paris, he spoke of their meeting and paid tribute to his friend.
Pierre Alibert, one of the young men that gravitated around Albert Gleizes at Saint-Rémy de Provence, but who had not yet crossed paths with Mennessons, met him at Paris, during a Gleizes exhibition towards the end of the 1970s. Upon the death of Mennessons, he came to see his workshop and urged his widow to contact the Franka Berndt gallery - which had supported and shown on several occasions in group and also a large personal exhibition in 1990, works from the Fifties until his final constructivist period. He is the author of several books about Gleizes and wrote about Mennessons at the preface of the 1988 exhibition at the Art and History Museum of Meudon.