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The sculptures in the alleys

Open air museum
Go to the Emperor and Mortarieu alleys for a discovery of a dozen works by local artists.

Inaugurated in December 2019 after two years of work, the Allées de l’Empereur and Mortarieu now constitute a wide promenade in the heart of the city, leading from the Esplanade des Fontaines to the Jardin des plantes.

On the occasion of the renovation of these alleys, a sculpture competition was launched in 2018 to pay tribute to Antoine Bourdelle, the most famous Montalbanese sculptor. To the ten sculptures of Bourdelle already present in the city therefore now answer new contemporary works.

Archer Heracles

Corinne Chauvet

Resin and Marble Powder (2019).

This contemporary revival of Bourdelle’s famous Archer Herakles preserved at the Ingres Bourdelle Museum is much more than a simple enlargement. The artist’s intervention can be seen here in the choice to retain only the upper part, thus giving the work a modern re-reading.

Combining attention to detail and resolutely contemporary techniques, Corinne Chauvet scans and digitizes the original plaster to restore the smallest details, which she covers with marble powder. On the surface of the work appear a multitude of small golden dots, discreet winks to the pantograph and other techniques of reproduction of works.

Seemingly emerging from the earth, Herakles and his monumental arch point us in the direction of the Ingres Bourdelle Museum, as an invitation to rediscover the art of the famous Montalban sculptor.

The arrows of Heracles

Émilie Prouchet-Dalla Costa

Corten steel (2020).

Stuck in the ground, these impressive 4.50-meter-high arrows made of corten steel appear to have been unhooked by Bourdelle’s illustrious Archer Herakles. Unlike Bourdelle, who depicts an archer without an arrow (or else just after the shot), Émilie Prouchet Dalla-Costa, for her part, has chosen to represent only these arrows, which were only suggested by the Montalban master.

The cracks in the ground recall the violence of the effort produced by the mythological hero to defeat the monstrous birds of the lake of Stymphale. The steel cuts as well as the gold leaves that dot the tail of the arrows refer to the bronze feathers that made up the wings of these birds. The epilogue to the sixth trial imposed on Hercules, these eight monumental arrows project a little bit of antiquity into our contemporary world to constitute a new landmark in this new urban space of the redeveloped alleys.

The wave

Patrick Berthaud

Bronze, volcanic lava base (2019).

This representation of Camille Claudel echoes Bourdelle’s encounter with the young sculptress in Rodin’s studio in 1893. By enhancing this symbolic figure of the female artist in the 19th century, Patrick Berthaud extends the rediscovery of Camille Claudel’s work and life that began in the 1970s.

Here she is dressed in a large sculptor’s dress and seems to be rearing up as if carried away by a wave, recalling one of her most famous works, La vague ou les Baigneuses, dated 1897-1903. All unbalanced (falling or rising?), this 2.60-meter-high figure illustrates the strength, fragility, and tragic fate of this sculptor now celebrated in the city of Olympe de Gouges.

Bourdelle was marked by his meeting with Camille Claudel, dedicating a poem to her at the end of his life in 1926.


Flavio de Faveri

Bronze (2019).

This work is the bronze print of an older plaster made in the 1990s as The Plain, originally conceived as a ‘hymn to the beauty of woman and her strength.’ In ultimately naming the bronze Cleopatra, Flavio de Faveri wanted to pay tribute to Bourdelle’s muse and second wife, Cleopatra Sevastos.

The installation of this sculpture on the esplanade des Fontaines comes to consecrate an artist who has lived and worked sculpture in Montauban for over 50 years and whose many works can be seen in the public space. Cleopatra represents aesthetic and structural similarities with the figure of the Memorial of the Algerian War visible at the Cours Foucault: the hairstyle, the light draped outfit that lets the chest appear in transparency, the bare arms, as well as a strong structuring of the torso.

Bourdelle’s influence can be seen in the treatment of the face and the muscles. Like Bourdelle, de Faveri was introduced to sculpture in his father’s carpentry workshop.