Simone Marye, untitled, between 1958 and 1959, lead pencil and colored pencil on paper, 31 x 24 cm, photo : Atelier de numérisation – Ville de Lausanne, Collection de l’Art Brut, Lausanne
(1890 – 1961), France
Simone Marye (1890–1961) was born in Paris into a well-off, sophisticated family of doctors. She spent part of her childhood in South America, until her father’s death forced the family to return to France. Marye was already working at the age of thirteen: firstly by finding a way to get hired by a fashion house, then teaching French in a school in England, and finally running dance classes. At the outbreak of the First World War, she joined the Red Cross and cooked for soldiers in transit, refugees, and the poor. A few years later she entered the antiques business, before becoming creative herself as a sculptress. Academic in nature, her bronze works depict a variety of animals and were displayed in numerous exhibitions. In the doldrums by 1933, she moved to Cairo in an attempt to relaunch her career. Sensing the approach of war, she returned to France to help in the war effort. Thereafter, Marye declined into a condition of loneliness and destitution. At the end of a period of pitiful vagrancy she was finally admitted to a psychiatric hospital at the age of sixty-seven. This was where she resumed her artistic activity, this time making small, naïve drawings in which animals and human figures jostle for pre-eminence in forms that become increasingly symbolic. Converting to Buddhism and praying with fervour, Simone took to expressing her religious imagination with enthusiasm. Her drawings began to be filled with impressively haloed saints, with arms outstretched or hands held together, surrounded by lush vegetation and mystical creatures. The words ‘Il ou elle prie Dieu’ (He or she prays to God), which are added to most of her compositions, reinforce the considerable importance of prayer in Marye’s world.
- Croyances (french version) (Exhibition catalogues)
- Beliefs (english version) (Exhibition catalogues)