Le Radeau de la Méduse series

Le Radeau de la Méduse (The Raft of the Medusa) is a reference to Théodore Géricault’s famous painting. The spontaneous technique of paint splashes and large brushstrokes enable the foam of the waves to be represented, whilst the raised hands evoke a plea for help. Contrasts, like those opposing the word and the image, anxiety and movement, and light and dark, play a central role here.

This series of five paintings by Hugo Claus (1929-2008) and Serge Vandercam (1924-2005), forms part of the works known as « peintures-mot » (word-paintings), in which words and images dialogue with each other. It is also a work by “four hands”. This type of collective work, in which several artists create a work collectively, was invented by artists of the CoBrA movement. Contrary to normal practice, here it was the writer (Hugo Claus) who became the painter and the painter (Serge Vandercam) who acted as writer.

This dynamic interaction between words and images led the CoBrA artists to work with great enthusiasm in close collaboration, bringing together visual artists with poets and writers and this in turn led to other acts of joint creativity. In pictorial terms, such activity was baptised « peinture partagée » (shared painting).

The Le Radeau de la Méduse series is a precious testimony to an important artistic experience which, beyond its aesthetic dimensions, also raises the somewhat delicate question relating to the authorship of the work. The series is also proof of the close collaboration that Hugo Claus enjoyed with the CoBrA movement, even after the movement was officially disbanded.

Website Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique

Further information about the Léon Courtin-Marcelle Bouché Fund (in French)

Type: 
Painting
Material / technique: 
Ink and tempera on paper mounted on canvas
Type of acquisition: 
Léon Courtin-Marcelle Bouché Fund acquisition
Year of acquisition: 
2008
Depository institution: 
Musées Royaux des Beaux-Arts de Belgique, Brussels