Jean Jansem and the Opera Garnier
1964: André Malraux, then Minister of Cultural Affairs, inaugurates the new ceiling of the Palais Garnier executed by Marc Chagall. A public commission that had been widely discussed between the supporters of modernism and the supporters of conservatism. Malraux will hold up well, if not a slight! concession which will consist not in destroying the previous ceiling but in masking it with a removable canvas of some 240m2 made by Chagall in the goblins' manufacture and then stretched over it. This public commission, both a political and intellectual act, came at a time when Malraux, convinced that art contributed to France's international influence, would support the commissions for National Furniture, of which Pierre Paulin would be one of the great figures. At a time when the Compagnie générale transatlantique would launch one of its biggest projects with the mythical luxury liner France, the decoration of which would include the greatest names of the time and be understood as a desire to affirm power.
It is in this abundant context that, with the conscious or unconscious complicity of André Malraux, the doors of the Palais Garnier will be opened to a few rare artists who have come here to immerse themselves in a world of its own, little-known: the backstage of the ballets. A very particular atmosphere created by an iron discipline that prevails at any training, but which alone allows to apprehend the sensation of the gesture, its flexibility, its scope, its rhythm, such as the stroke of the artist who depicts them. The artist will also witness moments of relaxation, complicity or antagonism between the dancers, the dust on the floor, the noise of the dance steps, the energy of the movements that only a talented artist like Jean Jansem will be able to paint. The shadows of the faces, the textures of the colours, the apparent casualness of the dancers plunge us into this exclusive world where the colour palette and the sensitivity of the line offer us a unique perspective.