Entertainment - Divertissement

Artist’s Name
Author’s Name
George Rouault (1871-1958)
George Rouault (1871-1958)
1943, Paris
Printed in one volume, size 43 x 33 cm.
Manuscript of George Rouault
15 colour rotogravures
  • 40 copies on ‘Chine ancien’ paper, numbered 1-40
  • 1200 copies on ‘vélin d’ Arches’ paper, numbered 41-1240
  • 30 copies on ‘vélin d’ Arches’ paper, off the market, numbered I-XXX
Diversion is the first book from the “Books of Painters” that Tériade published. Like all “Large Books” that followed, Diversion is the product of a close friendship; that of the osmosis between artists and Tériade, who would become for them much more than just a publisher. Tériade, both from instinct and his understanding of the artistic world, led the artists through the adventures of a book to an experience that went beyond the normal process of their creations. With this simple and ingenious manner, Tériade brought a revolution to the world of publications.

Special attention should be given to those books where the painter calligraphically depicts his own text and orchestrates the illustration at will, perfectly harmonizing text and drawings. This way, the specific works of art take the form of modern decorative manuscripts that put an end to the traditional partition of illustration and text. Diversion, of the French painter and graphic artist George Rouault, is a representative sample of this procedure, which initiated a remarkable generation of creation. His potent coiled letters and the harmonious calligraphy of his handwritten texts provide Diversion with more gravity, and combined with its distinctive images, reveal the whole character of the artist.

When Tériade asked George Rouault, one of the most productive and important representatives of Modern Art, to convey “his personal circus”, he touched one of his main sources of inspiration. Clowns and dancers were among Rouault’s favourite subjects and are considered characteristic of his personal style of Fauvism and Expressionism that he cultivated. In this book, Rouault imprints the intense emotions that the world of the circus provokes in him, interpreting the deepest thoughts of clowns and not the obvious, using bright colours and seeing things from his own point of view.

Rouault emphasizes his subjects and transmits to the viewer the intensity of his emotions using solid black outlines, clear and thick colours, as well as simplified and dramatic shapes. The passion with which he experiences the tragic humour of the authentic clowns reaches its peak when Rouault distorts their features. At the same time, he uses this subject symbolically to convey his repulsion to violence, hypocrisy, immorality and promiscuity. The forms that result impose themselves onto the viewer with their exaggeration.