This taste for colour, this health, this lyricism, these are precisely the qualities that, as soon as she entered the arena of artistic life, have pointed out and highlighted the personality of Germaine Lacaze, who, having acquired from Lucien Simon the solid substance of her plastic culture, liberated, under the influence of the example and lessons of Othon Friesz, her innate predispositions of Occitan and her propensity for an ordered neo-Fauvism.
Another characteristic of her personality comes from her family origins: her two lines, paternal and maternal, have made her an Occitan in her own right, the Landes, the terroir of Tarbes, Toulouse (Tolosa o moum païs !…), a Bordeaux childhood between the mountains of the Pyrenees, the estuary of the Gironde and the Arcachon basin, there is enough to form the sheaf of a temperament.
Her Gironde heredity predestined her to the love of Spain, and it is indeed tras los montes effect that she finds, even more than in her native Gascony, the climate that is hers. The poems, the Romancero gitano that she recites to the landscapes of Navarre or old Castile, these infiltrate them, like a spell, in the dense and greasy paste where are reflected the twilights that gild and mordor the pueblos at the time of the paseo. A sensual love but without fever or morbidity of life animates Lacaze’s brush, whether it caresses the shape of a sleeping bather, or exalts the flowers, captures the space and air of vast horizons.
No doubt there is a persuasive virtue in such a frank, healthy art, which transmutes each canvas into a hymn to color at the same time as a cry of love to nature, and a plain song to the glory of life.
Préface Documents n°186 Editions Pierre Cailler – 1963
What a perfect expression of “reasoned happiness”, the foundation of life detected by Montesquieu for his Bordeaux country, is revealed by the sumptuous painting of Germaine Lacaze ! …
This is the reason in the love for beings and places, in the joy of life, for the artist, the flavor of painting, exalting colors, light. Poetic, vibrant images spread out a wide range of direct, spontaneous sensations. … Her painting, a sunny universe, resplendent with flowers, overflowing with life and humanity is thus explained, as well as a response to this time provided at all times with dramas.
The artist reveals herself of this strain of “women of the Landes, described by the man from Bordeaux François Mauriac, as superior to men, strong in their raison d’être by the pure voluptuousness of living in the rhythm of nature. … Hence the frankness of expression in the art of Germaine Lacaze. An appearance of ease to look at and read the images hides the essential feeling of life with all its torments. …
All her work exudes a tenderness for beings, for places, for memories.
An art of emotion, of atmosphere, an overcoming of the mediocrity of everyday life. … The ardor of painting comes before the subject – representation of “things”. … The soul of the artist becomes the soul of the work.
Extrait de « Germaine Lacaze » aux Editions Mayer – 1983
Around the 1930s and 35s, a new generation of painters, tired of aesthetic quarrels, refused to accept the art of formulas and of the craft alone. They were no longer interested in inventing forms that owed nothing but to themselves, because these forms did not touch either sensitivity or intelligence… They wanted to give back to man and human feelings their primary place. This does not mean that they define themselves against previous aesthetics for a return to academic habits, but rather that they seek a middle way between the academic tradition they were taught and the unresolved turbulence of their elders. Artistically cultivated, having learned a lot, they want to find themselves by making a pact with happiness…
The painters of Poetic Reality know how to go beyond strict naturalism to achieve poetic delight. Their works, regardless of the subject, which is usually a pretext, offer us pure musics of colours masters. This line of artists, who recognise Bonnard as their supreme master, will sometimes join the fringes of Fauvism. With Legueult, Bezombes, Limouse, Caillard, Germaine Lacaze and Terechkovitch, colour remains like a childhood wonderment…
But what did they think of it at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts that all these young people attended in the thirties? A certain wind of liberalism was blowing through the intermediary of certain patrons, such as Lucien Simon, who was also present at the Grande Chaumière, bringing together young painters such as Brianchon, Legueult, Humblot, Rohner, Lacaze, Despierre, Sarthou, Brayer and Fontanarosa. “Yves Brayer later wrote: “We knew everything about modern techniques, but we were more sensitive to realism, either tragic or poetic, than to cubism, which already seemed to us to be a completed experiment.
One is always surprised by “their astonished child’s eye”. Of course Germaine Lacaze is no longer the enchanted child, nor the teenager fond of solitary walks in the Bordeaux vineyards. But her gaze is still astonished, not out of naivety, but because there is still a mystery of shapes and colours, a mystery that after sixty years of painting we have not managed to elucidate… but which we have learned, as best we can, to conjure up by transposing it onto canvas.
Germaine Lacaze is playful and serious, reserved and sensitive. One finds in her the Spanish rigour and the Girondine softness. As soon as one speaks of her prudence, one must speak of her audacity, of her southern exuberance, one must show her reason. She remained fundamentally independent all her life …This explains why she remained somewhat aloof from contemporary painters, althought she was very close to them. And if she keeps some distance, it is because being a girl, most of them ignored her, except for her companions of the Poetic Reality.
It seems that her vocation was born very early, exacerbated by the light of the Midi. Like Yves Brayer, she entered the Beaux-Arts in the studio of Lucien Simon who immediately noticed her gifts. He was a man capable of understanding others and recognising their qualities. He trained and advised a whole generation of painters. In the teaching of painting, he was in his time the equivalent of Gustave Moreau.
With Simon, Germaine Lacaze learned this cursive drawing, which, as with Brayer, deepens the subject. The sharp pen pierces and scratches the paper. Her drawing is about seeing, and wanting. In all of Germaine Lacaze’s work we find this will. The drawing is the skeleton, the framework and the syntax of her work …
The need for colour will be added more and more imperatively to the framework of the drawing. Germaine Lacaze seized colours and played with them under the sun with a happiness that revealed her to herself. From then on, this colour will play an essential role in her painting. She seeks by all means to master “this colour that make you panic” …
The history of Germaine Lacaze’s painting is characterised by this decisive seizure of power by colour, enclosed in the framework of composition and drawing, and finally exalted to incandescence in her landscapes of Spain and Venice …
However far she goes in her transposition, Germaine Lacaze never leaves the ground, she remains close to us in a generous world where flowers and fruits are offered in profusion. Like Renoir, like Bonnard, she has chosen to show only happiness. This is how her work naturally fits into the tradition of French painting, through a skilful combination of attention and spontaneity. From this attraction arises all her charm. Germaine Lacaze is serious in her playfulness, tender in her modesty, secretly passionate and full of refinement in her simplicity …
Whether she paints women, children, flowers, fruits or landscapes, it is always the same song of joy that she transmits to us. She has no distressing drama or haunting anxiety to share with us. She is free, free to feel joy in front of a landscape, a flower, a fruit, a face or a torso gilded in the sun. “It’s so good to let oneself go to the pleasure of painting,” Renoir said.
Under the high glass roof, everything seems to be flooded with light and colour; a few works hung on the walls, an easel with a canvas in progress, small tables cluttered with brushes and tubes of colour, tests of yellow, blue, magenta, vermilion and carmine. In one corner, as if to welcome the visitor, a possible model, a sofa covered with kalampkars, multicoloured cushions and dolls with porcelain heads, childhood memories whose enlarged eyes seem attentive to the wonder that Germaine Lacaze recreates and diffuses in each of her paintings.
In front of the mezzanine, a red Japanese lantern. On the walls, a few Krishna masks, then carpets and kilims that bear witness to the foreign visits and travels that have marked her life and work.
During this tour of the studio, one’s gaze inevitably stops on a lithograph, an exhibition poster where the stroke of a brush loaded with Indian ink has immortalised the face of Germaine Lacaze with this expression of the gaze, a mixture of joyful astonishment and boundless admiration of the world, day after day.
As Art has to be classified into currents, isms and schools, it has been said that Germaine Lacaze belonged to Poetic Reality; certainly, but is she not above all the cheerful chronicler of moments and instants of colour, of luminous emotions, of the joys and tenderness felt by a young girl at the beginning of the century who felt irrevocably attracted to drawing and painting.
Introduction to “Germaine Lacaze” published by Editions de l’Amateur – June 1991
Germaine Lacaze was born in Le Bouscat (near Bordeaux). It was logical that a large part of the painter’s important work gravitates around the Gironde, the town of Arcachon, the Mouleau, the Abatilles and the little Nice on the Atlantic coast.
As a teenager, she quickly devoted herself to studying drawing at the Ecole Supérieure de Beaux-Arts in Paris in 1925. In 1931, she obtained a diploma in decorative architecture. This was followed by a world tour that took her from South America to China, where she gave drawing lessons.
In 1962, she returned to the Bassin d’Arcachon and more precisely to Le Pyla where she lived with Madame Sarthoulet. It was during this period that she exhibited at the Casino Mauresque with the painters of the Ecole de Paris from which she came. Her paintings rubbed shoulders with those of Brayer, Bernard Buffet, Vasquez del Rio…
Her work is considerable, built on strong sensations experienced during her peregrinations as much as on light, fragile moments, picked up daily.
After Alaux and G. de Sonneville, Germaine Lacaze has set her sights on beaches cluttered with parasols and bathing cabins similar to truncated obelisks or berlingots offered to the taste of the sun…
The painting is cold, fanned here and there by the spots of colour that are the bodies that have been bitten by the sun, by the garnet-coloured streaks of the cabins.
The form is secondary without being totally neglected in the universal exchanges between man and nature. The material is dense. The development of volumes, the approach of the interlocking planes lead one to think that the work is sculpted as much as it is painted.
Extract from “The Arcachon Basin seen by painters” – 1994