Le Verre d'eau (The Glass of Water) is a work by Belgian artist Jane Graverol. The artist’s style combines fantasy and eroticism, Surrealism and Pop Art. In her later work, Graverol experimented with collages that conferred a more political aspect to her work. Le Verre d'eau is part of a series of collages inspired by 1960s Pop Art and demonstrates her sensitivity as much to the upheavals of her time as to the conquest of space.
A Pop-inspired collage
With shades of Surrealism, Jane Graverol’s work during the 1960s and 1970s developed to becoming reflections of her time. Le Verre d’eau is part of a series of collages inspired by 1960s Pop Art. Here, she shows herself to be sensitive to the great events of her time, including the conquest of space and the Vietnam War. These works, far from being ‘a feminine version of Surrealism’, show her developing with the times and questioning events of the period.
From Surrealism, Graverol takes the silhouette, perhaps as a glass of water, of a winged woman with a fish’s body, sprinkled with white clouds against a blue sky, so beloved by René Magritte, together with the transcription of a poem that reaffirm the flatness and materiality of the work’s surface. The collage and writing are heterogeneous, surrealist elements that abolish the illusion suggested by the representation. The word ‘lyre’ written by Graverol is an undisguised reference to the title of an article La Lyre à double trenchant (The Double-edged Lyre) by André Souris (theoretician and composer close to Nougé and Magritte), which was published in the magazine Les Lèvres Nues in 1954.
Questioning the present
The cut-out images of an astronaut and the Milky Way, household products and an aerial view of the city and industry, which are the basis of the work, are typical of a desire to introduce real aspects of a changing society, aspects that characterise Pop Art such as the collages of American artist Robert Rauschenberg. The work thus becomes a reflection of the real world and not just the artist’s self-expression. Jane Graverol nevertheless affirms her own personal symbolism through the silhouette of Cerberus, the three-headed animal and mythological guardian of the underworld, who seems to be warning us of an imminent danger.
The female artist
Like other female artists, Jane Graverol quickly developed strategies to assure her place as an artist (notably by initially exhibiting her works under the name of Jean Graverol). Her constant emphasis on female subjectivity established her as an inspiring figure for other women artists such as Evelyne Axell (Namur 1937 - Zwijnaerde, 1972), a Pop Art artist trained by Magritte and whose early works were often compared to those of her senior.
Daughter of Symbolist painter Alexandre Graverol, Jane was born in Ixelles (Brussels) in 1905. She studied at the academies of Brussels and Etterbeek, under famous painters such as Constant Montald and Jean Delville and exhibited as of 1927. 1949 was a decisive year for Graverol, when she met René Magritte, who introduced her to the circles of Surrealist poets Marcel Lecomte, Paul Nougé and Louis Scutenaire. For some ten years Graverol shared her life with Marcel Mariën. In 1954 they created the magazine Les Lèvres Nues and in the same year she gained prominence during the Venice Biennale in the exhibition Le Fantastique dans l’Art belge de Bosch à Magritte (Fantasy in Belgian Art, from Bosch to Magritte). In the 1960s she met André Breton and Marcel Duchamp in New York and exhibited her work in leading Brussels galleries. Her artistic personality is expressed in paintings and pastels, whilst her style brings together onirism and eroticism, Surrealism and Pop Art. Graverol is also known for her collages and her proximity to the Fantasmagie movement.
Exhibition at Delta, Namur
Le Verre d’Eau by Jane Graverol was exhibited at the Delta centre, Namur, as part of an exhibition devoted to the work of Namur artist Evelyne Axell: Pop Art & Féminisme. The Pierre-François Tilmon Fund, managed by the King Baudouin Foundation, whose mission is the acquisition, conservation and restoration of moveable cultural heritage for the museums of Namur, later acquired Le Verre d’eau in order to entrust it to the cultural centre in Namur.