Petersen by Etienne Audfray

One day of spring 1959, I ask to be received by Armand Petersen. Why this step? Sculptor myself, I had been informed of the notoriety and the competence of a man, specialist recognized in an artistic discipline that I wished to deepen. With the first access, I discovered an elegant man, a little severe, rather not very inclined with a spontaneous and opened, but very polished and intelligent reception. I presented to him, a little awkwardly one of my sculptures which it looked with attention and courtesy.

It was a well raised man, me too; and finally we agree to re-examine us with his workshop which was street Agnès Sorel, at five minutes of the room which it occupied at the House of the Artists, 14 rue Charles VII in Nogent.

It was a well raised man, me too; and finally we agree to re-examine us with his workshop which was street Agnès Sorel, at five minutes of the room which it occupied at the House of the Artists, 14 rue Charles VII with Nogent.

Very quickly, we were tastes common. Affected by its loneliness (it had lost some time earlier his wife) saddened, it felt disabled and solitary. By very real admiration that I immediately carried to his work, very quickly, we sympathized and maintained the confraternelles and family relations during ten years, characterized until its death in 1969 by an active collaboration.

I had a car, him not, a little serviceable time to visit galleries, founders, antique dealers, museums. We went even to Brussels to admire Atomium with the International Exhibition in 1968. Thus it became for my wife and me, the family friend, a little the uncle of province which came to dine the bouquet of flower with the hand, sometimes even with an original sculpture. He yes, it was good man!

Become mayor of the town of Bry-on-marl in 1965, (...) I had the joy of ordering a large bronze panther to him. I paid homage to his talent thus, in a quite late way, because dying in 1969 at the time of the payment of work, I due to pay the fees of the artist to his succession of which I had become well in spite of me the executor, other than his Georges brother who (...) considered curiously that the work of an artist did not deserve the respect that I dedicated to him. A few months later, Georges his elder, died out in its turn in its residence of the Denfert-Rochereau avenue, only, him also without direct descent.

When, young sculptor dilettante, (...), I subjected to his appreciation one of my works, I addressed myself to the sculptor and to his experiment. By friendship, I proposed to him to help it in my turn for his plasters and mouldings which he did not like to make. I soothsayers to some extent his expert while benefitting from his lessons which made me reflect personally and correct my works. Sincerely, Petersen influenced me by showing me the preeminent role of the light if the form whose contours should not be brutally stopped, thus prolonging the harmony of the profiles.

Petersen taught me principles of sculpture applicable to the statuary for which I intended myself. While contributing to its work, (it took again taste with work in a larger and comfortable workshop that I arranged to him) settled a co-operation, a friendship, a comprehension in a expensive field with us two, artists and friends. If it had started with figures, Petersen had improved in the study of the animals: he lavished to me councils of sculpture, based on his research and his own experiences.

In Nogent, it was surrounded by other artists: like Marcel Gimond, sculptor, his neighbor of workshop as well as painters: Van Hasseit, of which I arranged the workshop and the mezzanine as I had done for Petersen where it posed for its portrait, seizing truth and of presence (...). I remember to have led it to the Institute in large dress of academician.

During our friendship, he spoke to me about his friends, the animalists, Pompom which he had studied thoroughly. As a mayor of Bry and a sculptor, (…) I proposed into 1974 to then collect the Living room of the Animalist Artists in the Hotel of Malestroit, restored by my care, in Bry.

When in 1969, my friend Petersen entrusted his workshop to me while dying, knowing that his/her Georges brother was not interested in it, it would have been necessary to destroy the work of a life which pointed out my friend and my engagement with the sculpture to me? I have in heart to continue to honor it, this is why, agent of his work, it seemed useful to me to better do it to know by publishing this work. Its sculpture is representative one time, golden age of animalist art, where this exceptional creator holds an important place

Etienne Audfray Etienne Audfray

His life

Armand Petersen was born November 25, 1891 in Basel (Switzerland). He entered the School of Industrial Arts in Geneva, in the class of goldsmith and chaste. Édouard-Marcel Sandoz, with ten years apart, will follow the same training.

In 1914, Petersen arrived in Paris to continue his studies but left for four years in the studio of the Hungarian sculptor, Bela Markup, who introduced him to modeling. Animal sculptor, he introduces him to animals at Budapest Zoo.

In 1924, animal art is in full swing. Pompon, revealed in 1922 at the Salon d'Automne by his big White Bear, brings together young animals at the Jardin des Plantes who study models on nature by following his advice.

The choice of the animal asserts itself in 1926, Petersen works at the fauvery of the Garden of the Plants and joins the group of the followers of Pompon who teaches his method on the ground.

Edgar Brandt, owner of an art gallery, notices it. In the team of animals attached to the gallery, Pompon, Sandoz, the best of art meets there.

In 1927 Armand Petersen gets married. His wife will convince him to go out of his reserve, help him by his job as a journalist to reveal an already perfect work.

The first exhibition of "animals" opened in the Brandt Gallery in 1927. Petersen is next to Sandoz, Bigot, Artus and Pompon. Criticism notices this new artist.

The Manufacture de Sèvres looks in contemporary art of the time for works for a recent adapter, a colorful pattern and a different rendering than the biscuit. The Manufacture conserves 3 works by Petersen. The financial aspect, the diffusion of the works by the Manufacture, its exhibitions and its stores, present or can exhibit a work, they are different, they are in bronze, they are in stock.

The comparison with Pompon is essential, but its independence and originality differ by an impression of insecurity of its animals always on the alert. Unlike those of Pompon "who are naturally beasts of God, without fear". This particularity of expression makes Petersen a talented animal.

In 1929, two years after his "discovery" Petersen is one of the best animals. It is quoted after Pompon and as his emulator.

Brecy writes "Petersen emulates Pompon who only signes masterpieces ..." and further indicates "The fearful Antelope is a small masterpiece carved so tenderly that the whole life of this a little beast is touching and real".

Yvon Lapaquellerie in "L'Amour de l'Art" writes "he works his material as preciously as gold.The art of Petersen has something religious and it is this spirituality of which his work is impregnated which gives him a seal so rare and allows him to decide on the productions of other animals ".

In 1932, the economic crisis affects artists who often exhibit their works in plaster. The ceramic editions will provide an income for many artists, such as Petersen who will multiply them both at the Manufacture de Sèvres and the National Manufacture Bing and Grondàhl of Copenhagen by new contracts.

1935 Petersen obtains French nationality but returns regularly to Switzerland.

At the declaration of war in 1939, the mobilization dissolved the group of animals. Petersen is 48 years old, dual nationality, but not mobilized. He stays in France. In 1942 the foundries are no longer for the artists a memory, more exhibition of animals, the year severely affects everyone, the animals of the Jardin des Plantes are slaughtered when we can no longer feed them.

In 1943, arrested by the Germans, driven to Fresnes to be deported, Petersen was released by the intervention of his daughter-in-law, his father-in-law being a laryngologist doctor to a singer of the Opera. It was an Austrian artist, a neighbor of Ordener Street where he lived, who had denounced him out of jealousy. At the liberation, her daughter-in-law will find this same person in the same suite at the Bristol, this time in American uniform!

In July 1950, his wife died of cancer, and for Armand Petersen, it was the end of a happy period. Despite his sadness and his depressed state, realizing his solitude, he made the decision to continue his work by going to Nogent, in the House of Artists, thanks to Guy Loé, its director, who offers this solution.

This great break causes the departure of a new period where the sculptor during 17 years will complete the work and create models by wanting to represent them to their real size in the nature. Le Chevreuil will be exhibited at the Salon d'Automne 1952. The Cendrée crane, enlarged to the average size, has benefited from the sculptor's latest reflections, which accentuates the movement by the gap of the legs and the torsion of the neck.

For the first time, the state became interested in the work of Petersen and on July 21, 1954, acquired the great Chevreuil which will be melted in 1955 and returned to Louviers on March 30, 1956, where it is currently. Armand Petersen subsequently received numerous orders from the French and foreign states. It can be found in a large number of French embassies but also in museums such as a "Hippopotamus" from the Louvre Museum lent to the Vernon Museum, a "Crane Cendree" at the Hunting Museum in Gien, a "Bull" at the Museum Angers and the "Panthère" in Bry-sur-Marne, the "Corbeau" and the "Veau" in Basel (Switzerland).

1959 year of his meeting with Etienne Audfray young sculptor. The reciprocal friendship will reveal the true vocation of the young man who will become his pupil and his collaborator. In August 1959, the Dreyfus Gallery became the exclusive representative of Petersen's works in the United States.

He undertakes a last enlargement of a Panther in 1969. Petersen feels more and more tired and offers him to the foundry Godard he writes to his friend Etienne "the plaster has been examined, it will be taken in September because the foundry firm in August. "& nbsp;

Reached a cancer, he died on the operating table on September 20 after giving his workshop to his friend because Petersen had no descendants. The Panther remained unpaid. Etienne Audfray took care of his personal funds and placed it in front of a Bry school where he was the Mayor.

To conclude we can say that:

The sculptor's animal choice made him share an era called "golden age", that of the 30s, dominated by figures who were rightly famous, because they marked a whole generation by printing a style to a group of artists. animals he belonged to.

It is in France that he was recognized alongside the best and the greatest who will play a predominant role in the development of his work and his recognition. It is interesting to follow a descendant of Pompon who, while assimilating his principles knew how to keep a certain originality, by combining several talents, reconnecting with his goldsmith formation to arrive at the precious and often unique work.

A great continuity and a concern for perfection are the characteristics of a man, artist of rigor who knew how to evolve smoothly despite the cuts imposed by the circumstances of his life that he was able to overcome, however dependent on a troubled time and his refusal of the facility.

Today, very popular in the art market, his works are presented in all major international exhibitions such as the Paris Biennale, Maastricht TEFAF and PAD Paris.

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