These creations were made by Jean Bertholle, an outsider artist I quite some time wanted to add to this weblog, but about whom so little information was available, that I preferred to wait for more. Now also Bruno Montpied’s Le gazouillis des éléphants, the recently published very comprehensive survey of French art environments, confirms that the information is limited indeed, it’s time to publish anyway what is known about this self-taught artist.
Life and works
Jean Bertholle (1910-2002) had a job in Châtillon-sur-Seine (in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, France), where he worked in a factory that produced shoe heels. Retired in 1974, he began making girouettes and other creations which he displayed in the garden of his house ¹.
Bertholle lived in Chamesson (a community some 10 kms south of Châtillon-sur-Seine in the same region), where he was known as “Toto” and as a sabotier (someone who makes clogs). Some distant family members (cousins) still live in the community. In general, the inhabitants are not aware that Bertholle’s art environment ever existed ².
At a given time, in the 1980’s or 1990’s, Bertholle’s creations will have been transferred to la Fabuloserie. This private museum about outsider art in Dicy, located in the same region as Chamesson, was opened in 1983.
The open air part of the museum includes various creations from French art environments that for some reason ceased to exist and were saved by Alain de Bourbonnais, the founder of the museum (More about la Fabuloserie in the page in this weblog about Museums and Collections)
¹ this info from the book by Bruno Montpied’s who notes that the info is based on the publication “Des jardins imaginaires au jardin habité:des createurs au fil des saisons. Hommage à Caroline Bourbonnais“, La Fabuloserie, Dicy, 2015
² personal communication by Fabien Ansault (Galerie, museum of curiosities and café des Z’uns Possible in Chamesson)
Chamesson, Cote d’Or, region Bourgogne-Franche-Comté, France
La Fabuloserie, Dicy, same region, France