Italo De Grandi
Philippe Jaccottet

By bringing together painting and literature, this exhibition wishes to celebrate the complicity and friendship between Philippe Jaccottet (1925-2021) and Italo De Grandi (1912-1988) when they were both living in Grignan.

In the Drôme provençale, Grignan is a village set on a hill crowned by a Renaissance castle and the collegiate church of Saint-Sauveur. Known because of the correspondence exchanged by the Marquise de Sévigné with her daughter in the second half of the 17th century, Grignan has lived mainly from the cultivation of lavender, vineyards and the exploitation of oak truffles before recently becoming a tourist destination and the place of the Festival de la Correspondance.

"Italo De Grandi had discovered Grignan thanks to the hospitality of our common friend Palézieux who had opened to him for a few weeks, for several years, the small house that he owned there at the time. The one we soon called Italo simply (he was not distant) liked it so much that he wished to have a roof over his head there as well, which he soon did with his own energy and a sense of architecture, a taste for building that he undoubtedly owed to his country of origin.1 It was at this point in his life that our friendship, quite naturally, was established."

The choice of wall texts is due to the poetess José-Flore Tappy specialist in the work of Philippe Jaccottet which she has directed the publication in the Bibliothèque de la Pléiade, Gallimard (2014).

from April 13 to October 29, 2023

Thursday to Sunday
from 1:30 to 6:00 pm

Rates :
Adults CHF 12 for
members/students/apprentices/AVS CHF 10 for
children up to 18 years of age free of charge

By public transport
or parking nearby
Sorry, wheelchair access is not possible

Philippe Jaccottet : portrait

(Moudon 1925 - Grignan 2021)

After studying at the University of Lausanne and working in Paris (1946-1953) with the publisher Mermod, he settled in Grignan, in the Drôme. From Homer to Mandelstam, from Rilke to Gongora, through the exercise of translation(D'une lyre à cinq cordes, 1997), he opened himself to European cultures - Italy, Germany in particular - and defined the accents of a voice recognizable by its ethereal grace, its concern for "perfect legibility" (Jean Starobinski) as much as that of "allowing the elusive to have its share".

He will know how to integrate it into a vision of the world which makes its share to a serenity, even difficult and unceasingly questioned. L'Ignorant (1957) in poetry and Promenade sous les arbres (1958) in prose renounce the hold ("Only the heart can hear / Who seeks neither possession nor victory") and define a tone that refuses the excessive emphasis of a certain lyricism. This tone is inseparable from the finding of a place which is that of a plenary agreement to the world where the experience - since Rilke, perhaps the principal intercessor of the poet, the proper good of the poetry - is all. In 1961, Obscurity and Elements of a Dream, a dream story, were published. The short collection Airs (1967) is a poetic relation of the seasons of the year.

Another brief form, the note, that of the Semaison (1963 then 1971, then 1996, the term means "natural dispersion of the seeds of a flower") gives pride of place to the brief and oriental form of the haiku, which puts the emphasis on the world in its immediacy. Landscapes with absent figures (1970 then 1976) establishes the classicism of the word: a voice is found, certainly one of the very right of the poetic day of today. Lesson (1969), relation of the death of a close friend, recalls the black evidence ("All poetry is the voice given to the death"), present since the poems of Requiem (1947). Linked to our essential fragility, the motif of blood becomes obsessive. Chant d'en bas (1974) appeals from its title to a more humble word, which would have internalized the "lesson" of death.

The dark register of the two collections is tempered by À la lumière d'hiver (1977) and especially Pensées sous les nuages (1983). In 1990, Cahier de verdure mixes verses and prose, multiplying the formal experiments. More than everything, the sobriety of the subject, a well tempered lyricism are the reflection of an aesthetic morality of which the humility ("The effacement is my way to shine"), to be connected probably to the Protestant culture from which the author comes, is the agreement to the key. The words of the poem must not cover the "voice of the day". More than anything, poetry is a call to the correctness of a relationship with the world, inseparable from a transparency. The man is a being whose precariousness is recalled ("A man this airy chance"). The poetry is, in romantic confluence, the absolute reality. Far from the misleading vertigo (of the preference of oneself, of the image, of a lyricism intoxicated of itself and consequently of bad taste), it helps to a destitution which is our truth.

We will cease but something eternal passes through our "wandering soul": "But perhaps, lighter, / uncertain that it lasts, / is that which sings / with the purest voice / the distances of the earth." The poem must not veil what it says, and which can only be said by it alone. According to Jaccottet: "The ideal poem must make itself forgotten in favor of something else which, however, can only be manifested through it." The light, the imponderable, the air, the bird are some of the presences dear to a word that questions the conditions of its validity. Philippe Jaccottet: "The poet would be this man without appearance, without belonging, who persists in listening to this vague noise of source, increasingly distant, from which he draws his very life." He is one of the poets whose musical influence is the clearest on his cadets.

Source :

idg portrait photo

Italo De Grandi
(Vevey 1912 - Corseaux 1988)

Very early on Italo showed a keen interest in the graphic representation of what he saw: he drew everywhere, all the time and painted whenever his apprenticeship and then his work as a lithographer and graphic artist gave him the opportunity.
In 1933 he exhibited his work for the first time at the Jenisch Museum in Vevey.
During 1934 he stayed in Florence and Siena, saw everything, knew everything, drew everything.

With his brother Vincent, they were both students of Jacques Berger and then of the French painter Gaston Vaudou, who lived by the lake in Corseaux and with whom they would later stay in Champtoceaux in the Loire and in Pornic in Brittany. From this companionship was born a deep and cheerful friendship which was transmitted to their children and bound the two families.
In 1936 Italo took his brother Vincent to Paris where they worked for two years in response to the call of the painter and creator of tapestries Jean Lurçat. They collaborated in the realization of works for the Universal Exhibition of 1937 and realized the mosaics of the Pavilion of the National Manufacture of Sevres as well as various cartoons of tapestries carried out at the Manufactures of Gobelins and Aubusson.
After their return to Vevey in 1938 Italo married Elisabeth Huguenin with whom he had two daughters and two sons.
In 1939 Italo moved to his new house-studio built in Corseaux by Alberto Sartoris.
In 1944 he opened a graphic arts studio in Corseaux with his brother Vincent, dedicated to the creation of posters, wine labels, cigarette packaging, cosmetics, perfume and chocolate.

It is within the framework of this activity that they develop silk-screen printing, making this technique evolve, at the base rather rudimentary, until managing to use it to carry out art prints.
At the same time, Italo De Grandi continues to paint, in particular gouaches on the Adriatic or in the Loire with his friend Gaston Vaudou. In 1956 he is admitted to the Society of Swiss Painters, Sculptors and Architects.
In 1965, his children having completed their studies, he decides to abandon graphic arts and silkscreen printing to devote himself exclusively to painting. His friend, the painter Gérard de Palézieux, encourages him by offering him, in 1966, to stay in the cottage he owns in Grignan in the Drôme. Italo fell in love with this country, which was still off the beaten track and reminded him of the Italy of his childhood. He returned there more and more often and in 1972 acquired a ruined house that he restored with his own hands. He settled there and made many friends, notably the writer, poet and translator Philippe Jaccottet, the harpsichord makers Escher and Weland and the painter Michel Forat. Happy to live there practically in autarky, he returns to Switzerland only sporadically, notably to exhibit in Lausanne at the Vallotton Gallery as well as in Vevey, Geneva, Basel, Bern and Sierre.

From then on, a very fertile period began: drawings (pencil, graphite, sanguine, charcoal), oils, watercolors, washes, decorations for ceramics created by his eldest daughter Vincenza. In addition, Italo built an outbuilding at his house in Grignan to house a forge: for several years, his taste for measuring himself against the material had led him to master the techniques of beaten iron. He will thus realize numerous sculptures, sometimes monumental ("Evocation") as well as a sundial for the city of Aubonne and a cross for the tomb of Corinna Bille in Veyras. Italo De Grandi found enthusiastic inspiration in the landscapes and the town of Grignan.

Since 1980, Italo has spent every winter in Venice, attracted by the infinite variations in the relationship between stone, water and sky, by the mute whims of the mists or the musical transparency of the air. He brings back armfuls of watercolors, serene or tragic, sumptuous and delicate, enigmatic or cheerfully delighted by the fleeting moment and in which the threat of the impermanence of the city eaten away by erosion slips out of time.

Italo De Grandi died in Corseaux in autumn 1988. A posthumous retrospective was held at the Jenisch Museum in 1993.

Source: Catalogue of the exhibition "Italo and Vincent De Grandi" at the museum L'Atelier De Grandi in Corseaux-sur-Vevey.