paris-marcel-arland-199PF1946_98K25_1.jpg
Impressionist & Modern Art

The Creative Friendships of Novelist and Collector Marcel Arland

By Sotheby's
As Sotheby's sale, Collection Marcel Arland: Dans L’Amitié des Peintres on 28 March approaches, we look at the live of esteemed writer and collector Marcel Arland and his friendships with the painters he collected.

N ovelist, critic, journalist, academician, friend to André Malraux and André Maurois, co-director of the NRF (Nouvelle Revue Française) with Jean Paulhan, then sole director from 1968 to 1977, Marcel Arland was an emblematic figure of French intellectual life. Awarded the prestigious literary Prix Goncourt for his novel L’Ordre in 1929, he was well known in French literary and artistic circles.

Throughout his life he showed a fervent admiration for painting and its history, as well as for many contemporary artists that he knew personally and strongly supported: “How not to mention the friendly exchanges I have had with painters like Rouault and Chagall, Campigli, Masson, Atlan and Bazaine? A painter, with a few words, a few strokes, sometimes says more than the most eminent critics.” (Marcel Arland, Dans l’amitié de la peinture, 1980)

Born in 1899 in the town of Varennes-sur-Armance, Arland arrived in Paris after World War I to study literature at the Sorbonne. He met André Dhôtel, Georges Limbour, Roger Vitrac and René Crevel; and with them founded the short-lived journal Aventure inspired by the Dadaist movement. He began collaborating with the NRF in 1924, and by 1929, had received the Prix Goncourt for L’Ordre, a coming-of-age novel whose main character, Gilbert, was a sort of Rimbaud of the 1920s.

Marcel Arland entertained close relationships with artists throughout his life and sometimes collaborated with them on literary projects. His novel Maternité, published in 1916, was illustrated with four etchings by Chagall, and his Carnets de Gilbert where illustrated by Rouault in 1933. He also closely followed contemporary art exhibitions as well as the auctions held at the Hotel Drouot in Paris.

Always keen to share his discoveries, he enthusiastically described the acquisition of a painting by Chaim Soutine in a 1932 letter to Jean Paulhan: “We bought a Soutine. It sold for only 1,400 francs… and of course, it is more than I thought and could pay; we just won’t go on vacation for Easter. We are very happy about it so far” (Fonds Arland, Jacques Doucet library, Paris).

In 1944, Arland began actively championing Jean Dubuffet, then Gaston Chaissac and Atlan, who became a close friend. In 1949, he published Chronique de la peinture moderne, in which he extended his interest to Wols, Roger Bissière and André Masson, among others.

Marcel Arland entertained close relationships with artists throughout his life and sometimes collaborated with them on literary projects. His novel Maternité, published in 1916, was illustrated with four etchings by Chagall, and his Carnets de Gilbert where illustrated by Rouault in 1933. He also closely followed contemporary art exhibitions as well as the auctions held at the Hotel Drouot in Paris. Always keen to share his discoveries, he enthusiastically described the acquisition of a painting by Chaim Soutine in a 1932 letter to Jean Paulhan: “We bought a Soutine. It sold for only 1,400 francs… and of course, it is more than I thought and could pay; we just won’t go on vacation for Easter. We are very happy about it so far” (Fonds Arland, Jacques Doucet library, Paris).

In 1944, Arland began actively championing Jean Dubuffet, then Gaston Chaissac and Atlan, who became a close friend. In 1949, he published Chronique de la peinture moderne, in which he extended his interest to Wols, Roger Bissière and André Masson, among others.

In addition to being a famous novelist and critic, Marcel Arland was also an astute and committed collector. The historian Georges Duby recalled in the speech he gave when he succeeded to Marcel Arland’s seat at the French Academy that: “When he arrived to Paris, Marcel Arland ran to museums, but also from gallery to gallery, on the rue de La Boétie, where the new art was featured, looking for the avant-gardes, probing through the effervescence of modernity to find what seemed to relate most to the tradition of the masters.” (Discours de réception de Georges Duby, Académie Française, January 28, 1988)

It is a great honour for Sotheby’s to present, during the Salon du Dessin, the collection of paintings, watercolors and prints gathered by this eminent intellectual and writer though his friendships, collaborations, and especially commitments to the artists of his time.

CLICK HERE to view the full sale catalogue.

More from Sotheby's

We use our own and third party cookies to enable you to navigate around our Site, use its features and engage on social media, and to allow us to perform analytics, remember your preferences, provide services that you have requested and produce content and advertisements tailored to your interests, both on our Site as well as others. For more information, or to learn how to change your cookie or marketing preferences, please see our updated Privacy Policy & Cookie Policy.

By continuing to use our Site, you consent to our use of cookies and to the practices described in our updated Privacy Policy.

Close