Mennessons's key themes: Self-portrait

We only find self-portraits in the first thirty years of his work, from 1944-1973. When numbers took over, the artist no longer needed this mirror. In his youth from the outset he turned his gaze inward, both on canvas and in stone. The sculpture titles underline this determination: Intérieur silencieux or Autoportrait silence (Silent inside or Silence self-portrait). What is however surprising in a young painter is the refusal of representation in both the preparatory gouache of 1946 and the canvas of 1947, derisively entitled Francois the First.
In the difficult period that followed Gleizes death and his return to Paris, troubled by hard living conditions the mirror darkened. In Le peintre, le pull gris (the painter, the grey pullover) the colours are grey and the eye is feverish. The happiest period opens in 1965 which sees the return of humour: the artist shows a bird’s eye view of his legs in front of the easel, or he mixes it with nature in Autoportrait-paysage (self-portrait-countryside). He also returns to a highly stylised representation in l’Autoportrait jaune (self portrait in yellow).

In his film attempts from 1972 onwards he was for the first time both behind the camera and in front of it. This was without doubt another method of self-portrait. Additionally, the jubilation of having created a universe based on the golden number was expressed so clearly that he no longer needed the mirror of self-portrait.

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