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Posts Tagged ‘Félix Juven’

Les Combats Modernes

August 25, 2014 | by

Metivet-01

“Ce sont les cadets de la France!” (“These are the cadets of France!”), Lucien Métivet, from Le Rire Rouge, No. 1, Nov. 21, 1914.

Metivet-02

“La consigne” (“The Order”), Lucien Métivet, from Le Rire Rouge, January 2, 1915.

Metivet-03

“Les combats modernes” (“Modern Combat”), Lucien Métivet, from Le Rire Rouge, January 30, 1915.

Metivet-04

“Bulletin de victoire” (“Forecast of Victory”), Lucien Métivet, from Le Rire Rouge, May 22, 1915.

Metivet-05

“Jour de l’an” (“New Year’s Day”), Lucien Métivet, from Le Rire Rouge, January 1, 1916.

Metivet-06

“Cartes de guerre” (“War Maps/War Cards”), Lucien Métivet, from Le Rire Rouge, February 10, 1917. The phrase “cartes de guerre” means “war maps” but here it has a double meaning because “carte” is also the word for “card” (including the kind used in card games).

Metivet-07

“Échec au roi rouge!” (“Check to the Red King!”), Lucien Métivet, centerspread from La Baïonnette, August 16, 1917.

Metivet-08

“Le retour du prisonnier” (“The Return of the Prisoner”), Lucien Métivet, from Le Rire Rouge, December 14, 1918.

Metivet-09

“L’ébauche” (“First Draft”), Lucien Métivet, from Le Rire, January 4, 1919.

Given the recent centennial of the beginning of the Great War (as it was then known), I’ve found myself thinking again of Lucien Métivet, the French artist I wrote about here last year, best known for his works from the 1890s. The advent of the war brought an abrupt halt to the publication of Le Rire (Laughter), the weekly journal of humor to which Métivet was a regular contributor, but its publisher, Félix Juven, soon relaunched it with a small but significant change of title: now it was Le Rire Rouge (The Red Laugh), presumably in recognition of the blood of France’s soldiers and the dark nature of the times.

It had become customary for Le Rire to start each issue with Métivet’s drawings up front, and in the journal’s first new issue, of November 21, 1914, his was the opening image: an energetic, optimistic young conscript. The picture’s cheerleading join-the-war-effort ambience is given a discreetly poignant touch by a telling detail just outside the frame: to the upper right we see the typeset words “Au conscrit Maurice Juven”—a dedication to a young conscript whose surname suggests a close relationship to the magazine’s publisher, a longtime friend of the artist. Clearly this dedicatee was, like all soldiers, carrying with him into danger the hearts of those who loved him. With this single, seemingly exuberant image, the very personal stakes for the creators of Le Rire Rouge, and indeed for all of France, were acknowledged. Read More »

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