Jacques-Emile Blanche (1861-1942) is one of those artists we do not know where to classify. He was a bit Impressionist, a bit memorialist (specializing in portraits), a bit intellectual, a bit mundane, somewhat of a writer, somewhat of a pianist. But he was more than a bit: he actually was brilliant in all of these fields and leaves us the image of a dabbler, a talented dilettante, a category which art history often casts into oblivion. A friend of Proust’s and of Robert de Montesquiou, he saw up close the decadent atmosphere of the end of the XIXth century, the Belle Epoque that reeked of boredom. Between “Blanchard, Maria” and “Blaue Reiter”, the earlier mentioned Garzanti encyclopedia forgot Blanche… This proves he was known in his time, as even Mauriac thanked him for “opening his eyes to painting”, but he disappeared after that. This well-illustrated biography does justice and it is read like a real Human Comedy in which we see Aubrey Beardsley, Oscar Wilde, Gide and Joyce and the superb Ida Rubinstein and Tamara Karsavina.
Review published in the newsletter #272 - from 27 September 2012 to 3 October 2012