Alexandre de Salzmann (1874-1934

Un grand artiste oublié du 21e siècle
Basarab Nicolescu Halle Saint Pierre, Paris 24 octobre 2009

Joseph Sima, Portrait d’Alexandre de Salzmann, 1930 (huile sur toile)

Carl Zigrosser, My Own Shall Come to Me, Casa Laura,
USA, 1971 (300 copies) 1932 - Photograph by Edward Steichen (1879-1973), Museum of Modern Art, New York

Carl Zigrosser (1891-1975)
• 1919 – 1940 – Directeur de Weyhe Gallery, New York • 1937 – Six Centuries of Fine Prints, Covici-Friede, New York • 1941 – 1963 – Conservateur de Philadelphia Museum of Art Prints • 1952 – Administrateur de Solomon Guggenheim Museum • 1955 – Vice-directeur de Solomon Guggenheim Museum

« In the summer of 1927 I spent several long weekends and a few days in between at the Château du Prieuré near Fontainebleau where Gurdjieff had set up his Institute… There was one person among the original initiates at the Prieuré with whom I quickly established some kind of understanding. He was Alexandre de Salzmann. Because he was an artist we had a common interest. Likewise because we both spoke German I was able to communicate more freely with him. I spent much time with him at Fontainebleau and also saw him in Paris on weekdays. I bought drawings and decorative screens from him for my gallery in New York. He had great talent as an artist, though he modestly called himself a craftsman. He reserved the name of artist for those who had achieved what he called major works of art such as the Sphinx or the Pyramids. These objects, he felt, had a deep significance which modern works lacked.»

« He had perfected a method of mural painting, a kind of sgraffito technique, in which he worked with incredible speed. An assistant would cover a wall, a square yard at a time, with a quick-drying medium such as tempera or gouache, and the artist would model the forms by scraping them out with several rubber tools of his own invention. I remember visiting him when he was at work decorating a room with a wall surlace of about three hundred square feet. He had started work that morning, and when I arrived at four o'clock it was about three quarters finished. He stopped and went out with me for a coffee and a cognac. I asked him about his preliminary studies. He replied there were none, everything was in his head. It was an amazing feet of concentration since the whole composition was very complicated. He had an extraordinary visual memory: natural forms, animals, human beings, historic ornament, all took shape under his hands with effortless ease»

« His face with its weather-beaten skin, sunken cheeks, and gaps and stumps of teeth, was not easily forgotten. He told me that he had lost his teeth through a fall from a cliff in the Caucasus Mountains when he was chief forest ranger to some Russian grand duke. Fortunately he fell into a tree and saved his life. In spite of his artistic sophistication, there was something wild and savage in him, a breath of his native Caucasus perhaps, in his taste in food, in the primitiveness of his personal wants. His method of shaving was simpiicity itself: he took a dry razor and scraped his face. Even this was a concession, for as he said the tribesmen of Asia Minor use their regular knives. Oriental, too, was his gift for storytelling. His sallies, delivered sometimes with the expressionless monotone of understatement, sometimes with a Rabelaisian sense of the ridiculous, would always arouse gales of laughter.»


JUGEND, 1900 - 1919

INSTITUT DALCROZE, Hellerau, 1911 - 1915

Emile Jaques-Dalcroze (1865-1950)

Alexandre de Salzmann, Notes From the Theater, Far West Press, USA, 1972

TIFLIS, 1917 - 1920

Le Fouet du Diable, 14 décembre 1919

Tiflis, 22 juin 1919

1-11 décembre 1921 Théâtre des Champs-Elysées


H.-R. Lenormand, Pelléas et Mélisande au Théâtre des Champs-Elysées, Choses de Théâtre, no 4, Paris, janvier 1922, p. 234-235
(+Benjamin Fondane/B. Fundoïanu, Roumanie – Un siècle de théâtre, p. 225-227)

H.-R. Lenormand
• « Un triomphe complet a récompensé l’original effort du metteur en scène, M. Salzmann, grâce à qui nous avons vu pour la première fois le poème de Maeterlink baigné dans l’atmosphère qui lui convient. Cette forêt de rêves dont les troncs d’arbre ne sont que des bandes de toile tombant de frises, ces lointains qui vibrent d’une luminosité transparente et fondue, ces intérieurs limités par la muraille frissonnante de l’étoffe, ces scènes du premier plan encadrées par deux merveilleuses colonnes de clarté, autant d’inventions décelant la pureté du goût et la maîtrise technique de M. Salzmann. »

• « Ce chercheur, frère spirituel des Gordon Craig, des Gémier, des Pitoëff, des Baty, nous a fait mesurer une fois de plus combien la tradition réaliste dessert les ouvrages des poètes. Le jour où les opéras de Wagner seront montés dans cet esprit-là – ils pourraient l’être demain, si l’on consentait à exécuter les maquettes d’Adolphe Appia, - nous assisterons à une résurrection du même ordre… » • « … un des plus remarquable artisans de la rénovation scénique… » • (voir aussi Carla di Donato, "Alexandre Salzmann

et Pelléas et Mélisande au Théâtre des Champs-Elysées", Revue d'histoire du théâtre, no 2, 2008.)

AVON, 1922

13 juillet 1933 (+ 3 mai 1934)