EDMEE GUYON, 1931-
The singularity of Edmée Guyon’s work lies in its capacity to carry us away into a world of becoming, a never-ending 'movement towards’. Her work conveys a spiritual impetus that speaks of transformation into a more intense, more joyous sense of being. She does not represent an ideal state of being to be attained, but the joy of free action delivered from the strain of striving to achieve a goal designated solely by the will. To follow this path is to cultivate and cherish the divine spark that animates all life. She persuades us to dance, spring up and shine.
Edmée Guyon was born in Paris and has been working as a sculptress since 1948. She first exhibited in 1950 at the Salon des Artistes Français in the Grand Palais. Although largely self-taught, she studied with Marie-Josèphe Cotelle-Clère, known for her busts of General Leclerc and St Charles de Foucauld, at the Académie de la Grande Chaumière and with Joseph Rivière at the Académie Julian. After recovering from a brain haemorrhage in 1976 she found her own personal abstract style to express her quest for the essence, the inner truth: taut convex and concave volumes separated by fine ridges. The art historian Jean Selz has described it in this way:
“ Though an intellectual operation, abstraction in art takes on a new dimension when it goes beyond mere aesthetic research to achieve the expression of an idea, which only uses the object in order to transcend it …What she transmits to us with communicative fervour is what lives within her as the driving force of her creative power: the ardent vibration of an inner voice which resembles a hymn to life .”
Peace (1977) is the first work in this style. It is inspired by the experience of the Sahara and particularly the radiance of a Touareg woman with whom she stayed in a camp of nomads. In 1986 the theme of life as a soaring or occasionally a thwarted movement was superseded by the full and tender harmony of Mother Hope later accompanied by The Child. This work also announced an upward spiralling movement which found its most accomplished expression in The Angel (1999). In these years Edmée Guyon’s work became more and more diversified. The growing autonomy of each side of her sculptures led to The Sari (1997), which is no longer just one work seen from different angles, but four different works of art in one. Her work also acquired a new gravity. The theme of innocence no longer excludes the evocation of destructiveness and the two will unite in the victory – albeit tragic - of conscious innocence in Antigone (2004). In Prayer (2013) all the heart’s scars are transcended in one single heavenward movement. The answer to this prayer comes in Full Joy (2016). It is the visualisation of an encounter with the profusion and fullness of a bud bursting into flower, reaching for the sky, the promise of dynamic force. Currently Edmée Guyon is working on the theme of light and darkness.
Edmée Guyon has exhibited in 39 one-woman shows mainly in Paris. In 1983 her work was the last to be discovered and exhibited at Saint-Germain-des-Prés by Édouard Loeb, the art dealer of Max Ernst and Jean Arp and a famous figure in his own right. Otherwise the most remarkable shows have been at Alexandra Patsoglou’s Galerie Sculptures (1987), the Jacques Barrère Gallery (1990), the Anne-Marie Galland Gallery (1992) and the Gallery Het Cleyne Huys in the Hague (2002), which first marked the international recognition of her work. A complete retrospective took place in the Paris town hall of the 5th arrondissement in 2018. Edmée Guyon has also participated in 35 collective art salons, notably the second and third Triennale Européenne de Sculpture, Grands et Jeunes d’Aujourd’hui, the Salon de Mai, the sixth biennial exhibition of the ‘ Groupe 109 ’ and the Salon de Montrouge. Two works are in the public collections of the municipality of Granville (Manche). High up on the ramparts of the ancient town, one of these –Arrow Bird - faces the sea and the sky. In 1973 Edmée Guyon won the sculpture prize at the Salon de l’École Française held in the Musée du Luxembourg. In 1979 the Compagnie Navale des Pétroles (now a part of TotalEnergies) commissioned a monument to commemorate the victims of the explosion of the oil-tanker Bételgeuse at Bantry Bay in Ireland. 136 of Edmée Guyon’s sculptures are in private collections in France and abroad : Abu Dhabi, Berlin, Brussels, Hamburg, The Hague, London, Munich, New York, San Francisco, Tokyo and Vienna.
A 22-minute film in French is available on the “Actualités” (news) page of Edmée Guyon’s official website www.edmeeguyon.fr or on YouTube by typing in ‘ Edmée Guyon video ’.
A monograph and reasoned catalogue by Ronald McDougall titled ‘Edmée Guyon’ was published by Lelivredart (Paris, Montreux) in 2018. It is in English and French, fully illustrated in colour, available online and in bookshops. Edmée Guyon was also included in Jianou (Ionel), Xuriguera (Gérard) and Lardera (Aube), La Sculpture Moderne en France depuis 1950, Paris, Arted, 1982.