René Iché

(Last Updated On June 8, 2022)

My second post is dedicated to René Iché, another French sculptor. He was born in Sallèles-d’Aude in 1897 and died in 1954. Iché was a soldier in WWI, where he suffered injuries and trauma. His experiences in the Great War inspired him to create one of his most famous works, Guernica. Many artists were moved by this historic event where the German Luftwaffe deliberately bombed a Basque civilian population, and created memorial works, most famously Pablo Picasso. But Iché’s piece is much simpler than Picasso’s. It is simply a single skeletal little girl, a symbol of the most innocent victims of the attack.

René Iché - Guernica (1937)(1)

René Iché – Guernica (1937)(1)

René Iché - Guernica (1937)(2)

René Iché – Guernica (1937)(2)

Another fascinating piece by the artist is Contrefleur, a word that translates to “Anti-Flower” which doesn’t seem very flattering. This is Iché in realist mode. In stark contrast to the usual artistic ideal for the youthful feminine figure, he gives us a pubescent girl who is a little fleshy, and her demeanor is somewhat shy and standoffish. Additionally, her pubis—usually smooth in sculpture—is meant to be covered in matted pubic hair. No fay little creature, this! And yet I still find her beautiful. I think Iché did too, and he meant the title ironically, as a snub to critics and idealists.

René Iché - La Contrefleur (1933)

René Iché – La Contrefleur (1933)

3 thoughts on “René Iché

  1. The word “contre” has a much larger range of meanings than just “anti” in French. Here, it should probably be associated with its use in the word “contrechamp”, meaning countershot. “Champ” literally means field, like a field of flowers, and that’s probably no coincidence that we remain in the same semantics with “contrefleur”. I guess one could interpret this name “contrefleur” as an invitation to look at sexuality from the point of view of the child, instead of espousing the adult’s one.

    • More context! Thank you for the clarification. My partner and I have been to France . . . in our minds. Seriously, we would love to go someday, if for no other reason, than just to see all the amazing art.

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