Archives: Fred Deux

20 September 2017 – 8 January 2018

Lyon's Museum of Fine Art pays tribute to Fred Deux (1924-2015) by dedicating to him the largest ever exhibition of his work.

Fred Deux, illustrator, oral poet, writer, and, under the pseudonym Jean Douassot, author of a cult book, La Gana, was a singular artist who cannot be categorised in terms of art fashions and trends. This autodidact, born in the basement of a large house in Boulogne-Billancourt to a working-class family, constantly had to overcome, as he would say. “He had to overcome”: overcome the basement walls to access the life which called him and burnt inside him. Overcome the barriers between the arts, moving from drawing to the written word, and from the page to the tape recorder, in the face of which he recounted stories to himself in a sort of endless reverie, constantly exploring the unknown in him. Overcoming and being overcome: gradually immersing himself in drawing, so that it was life itself which overcame him and surrendered to him.

The exhibition, of around 180 drawings, reconstructs the polyphonic world of Fred Deux. Following a chronological thread, that of the cycles through which the artist laboured, it shows the underlying coherence of a body of work which from the outset, like two moulds, formed the tools which were to shape it: the line and the mark. From the drawings known as Kleepathology completed in Marseille in the late 1940’s, through to his final work, via major departures - Otages, Spermes noirs and Spermes colorés, Self-portraits, the monumental drawings of the 1980’s, unique books where the line simultaneously forms the mark and the word – this is the world of Fred Deux which is there to be seen and experienced. Objects fashioned by the artist and tribal art objects collected by him, like essential presences, echo his graphical work and place it in a life journey.

This exhibition is only possible thanks to the major donations which have enriched the museum’s graphical art collections.