French, 20th century.
Born 1887, Langogne, France; died 1958, Saint-Alban-sur-Limagnole, France.
Auguste Forestier created magical objects that defy categorization. His legacy of jury-rigged assemblages could easily be mistaken for the inventory of an otherworldly toy store, overflowing with soldiers, miniature vehicles, guns, tools, and a fantastical bestiary, all carved and conjured from wood, objects, and materials available to him in the St.-Alban psychiatric hospital.
Born on a farm in 1887 in France’s southeastern Lozere region, Forestier was known to be enthralled with trains. His curiosity led to trouble in 1914, when his placement of pebbles on train tracks caused a train to derail. This event landed him in the St. Alban psychiatric hospital at age 27, where he remained until his death in 1958.
After his hospitalization, Forestier worked in the warehouse and the kitchen. He also began to draw portrait busts and medallions. In the mid-1930s, he began to carve wooden toys for the children of the hospital employees. These became increasingly complex, as the artist went to greater lengths to shape and adorn his imaginary boats, winged creatures, and decorated generals with cloth, buttons, string, tape, leather, and even the bones and teeth from pigs or horses retrieved from the trash. Each one of his finished creations vibrates with a life of its own.
Forestier took his work seriously. He established a small workshop in a hallway, and dressed himself in regal attire. He worked carefully and consistently, first constructing batches of elements that he would later incorporate into larger works. Forestier was admired by modern artists who visited St.-Alban, and occupies a place of honor in the canon of Outsider Art.
- Jenifer P. Borum
2013, Véhicules, Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne
2005, Dubuffet & Art Brut, traveling exhibition, Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf; Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne; Musée d'art moderne Lille Métropole, Villeneuve-D'ascq, France
2005, Bestioles, Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne
2001, ABCD: A Collection of Art Brut, American Folk Art Museum & Art Brut Connaissance et Diffusion (ABCD), New York
Collection abcd, Montreuil
Collection de l'Art Brut, Lausanne
Le LaM, Lille Métropole Musée d'art moderne, d'art contemporain et d'art brut, Villeneuve d'Ascq
Peiry, Lucienne and Sarah Lombardi, Collection de l'Art Brut, Collection de l'Art Brut & Skira-Flammarion, Paris, 2012.
Dubuffet & Art Brut, exhibition catalogue, 5 Continents & Museum Kunst Palast, Düsseldorf, 2005.
Decharme, Bruno, ABCD: Une Collection d'art brut, exhibition catalogue, Collection abcd & Actes Sud, Paris, 2000.
Fascicule de l'Art Brut, No. 8, Compagnie de l'Art Brut, Paris, 1966.