Pierre Molinier 

 

was the son of a house painter and decorator specializing in marble and wood imitation; his mother a dressmaker, and his aunt an ironer. Molinier's school years were spent with the Brothers of the Agen "Ecoles chretiennes", although he pretended he had been educated by the Jesuits. At the age of 13, he began working with his father as an apprentice painter and took evening courses at the Agen Municipal School of Drawing. Having been in love with his younger sister for a long time, in 1918, he took a photograph of her on her deathbed: later he said that, on that occasion, he caressed her legs and ejaculated on the First Communion dress she was wearing. Fantasm, pure fabrication or reality ? Anyway, it was the starting point of his quest for an androgynous identity, which would be a recurring theme throughout his life and work. Around that date, he settled down in Bordeaux, place de la Bourse, in the Saint-Pierre Quarter. The following year, he set up his own business, as a house painter. He did his military service from 1920 to 1922, then stayed in Paris where he visited museums frequently. In 1923, he moved to 5 rue du Parlement-Saint-Pierre, still in the Bordeaux Old Quarter. The first exhibition of his paintings took place in 1927. Every year until 1951, he showed several paintings (figurative or fauve landscapes and portraits) in the Bordeaux "Salons". In 1928, he exhibited a painting in Paris, at the famous "Societe Nationale des Beaux-Arts", and founded the "Societe des Artistes independants bordelais" together with several other painters. During 1931, he moved to the apartment where he would stay for good and would have his artist studio ("L'Atelier du Grenier Saint-Pierre"), 7 rue des Faussets, in the Bordeaux Old Quarter. In 1940, Molinier was mobilized as a male nurse, then taken prisoner by the Germans; after being demobilized, he took refuge in the Bordeaux countryside with his family. Four years later, his father committed suicide by overdosing on medicine. Giving up figuratism, he made his first abstract painting Satin blanc. After the presumed visit of the Dalai Lama envoys, who asked him to reproduce symbolic mandalas, his inspiration changed into esoterism: this alleged visit was dated by Molinier, vaguely, around 1936; considering the evolution of his paintings, 1946 would be much more likely. In 1948, he made the first painting characteristic of his erotic period, Les amants a la fleur. The following year, tired of his infidelities and provocative behaviour, his wife left their marital home. In 1950, he built a farcical "Premature tomb" topped with an engraved black cross: "Here lies Pierre MOLINIER Born on 13 April 1900 died around 1950 He was a man without morals He was proud of it and gloried in it No need to pray for him." He took photographs of himself, posing in his studio as crucified and having committed suicide, as well as on his deathbed in his apartment. 1951 was the major turning point in Molinier's artistic career: he broke off from the "Artistes independants bordelais", following a scandal at the Fall Salon caused by his veiled painting Le grand combat, which represents an entanglement of bodies engaged in a love joust. In 1952, he got in touch with the French novelist and art collector Andre Malraux in order to exhibit his paintings in Paris. Also, his daughter Francoise, with whom he had been in love for a long time, left the family apartment. He wrote to Andre Breton, the leading figure of the Surrealism movement, in 1955, and sent him a portfolio containing photographs of his paintings. Breton fell in love with "those magical works" and sent him a series of enthusiastic letters praising his work: "You are today a master in vertigo", he wrote in one of them. After exhibiting 18 paintings and a few drawings at the Paris gallery run by Breton "A l'Etoile scellee" (27 January - 17 February 1956),

he contributed to several issues of the magazine Le surrealisme, meme. He met the writer and poet Joyce Mansour, "the Divine", and started taking erotic photographs. In 1957, he bought a shady bar near Bordeaux called the "Texas-Bar" for his so-called "natural daughter" Monique, who was a notorious prostitute. Three years later, he was involved in a domestic dispute with his separated wife in their summer home where she returned from time to time, slapping her violently and firing a gun above the head of his cousin: for both acts, he spent a month in prison. He gave up his house painting business, in order to devote the rest of his life to his art. The following year he was convicted with fines and damages for his assaults; his wife was granted a divorce. In Summer 1962, Raymond Borde came to Bordeaux to shoot the film Molinier, an homage to the painter's world (private screenings of an uncut version were held in 1964, and a public screening of the censored version in 1966). He wrote to Emmanuelle Arsan (author of the erotic novel Emmanuelle) in May 1964 and met her in Paris in December. As a result, they engaged in passionate correspondence, and Molinier represented her in several of his works. They would not meet again until the Spring of 1967 in Bordeaux. Numerous meetings with the Surrealist painters Clovis Trouille and Gerard Lattier took place during 1965. He shot a rudimentary film, Mes jambes. His plans for publishing an album of photomontages on Le chaman et ses creatures began to take shape in 1966, and Roland Villeneuve, a specialist of the Devil, was approached to write the preface. Many publishers gave up printing the album, and it was eventually published in 1995. In a particularly pivotal exchange of correspondence with the Austrian art historian Peter Gorsen, in December 1967 he met Hanel Koeck, a German sadomasochist and fetishist of legs and shoes. During his childhood, he was surrounded by women, and often wore their shoes and stockings,and so this meeting began a lengthy and impassioned correspondence with her , who paid him several visits. She became the model of many of his paintings and photomontages. Within this same period, a young friend and model, Jean- Pierre Bouyxou, shot Satan bouche un coin, a film where Molinier appears in his fetishist apparel. In 1969, according to him, he ordered the exhumation of his father's corpse and kept his bones inside a wooden box in the shape of a small coffin, rue des Faussets. The same year, an album (Molinier) of his paintings was published by Jean- Jacques Pauvert. In 1970, Molinier had a painful gall-bladder removed that had caused him constant suffering. Two years later, Peter Gorsen published in Munich an album of photographs and photomontages (Pierre Molinier, lui-meme), with an important essay in German. In March 1975, Molinier took a series of photographs of the young Swiss painter, Luciano Castelli, dressed as a transvestite, and another series with Thierry Agullo, an iconoclastic Bordeaux artist, on the theme of Indecency. At the end of the month, Peter Gorsen paid him a visit (for the first and only time) accompanied by Hanel Koeck. The last of his family troubles occurred in September of this year, when his son Jacques died in an accident while handling explosives. As a consequence, he resumed his contacts with his daughter, Francoise. At the end of February 1976, he took a series of photographs of Thierry Agullo, dressed in women's attire, continuing on the theme of Androgyny that had played a major part in his life. On March 3rd, 1976, Molinier committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth, something he had foreshadowed, time and again. His body was transferred to the Bordeaux morgue, then to the Faculty of Medicine, as he had bequeathed his body to the establishment in 1970. After being dissected, his remains were buried in a Bordeaux cemetery.

 

Biography: Citizendium