Ferdinand Cheval and the Art

Apart from the institutional art and his network, some self-taught artists – completely uninvolved to this world – introduced themselves by original productions. Their work, out of artistic movements, only refer to their imagination and their need of creation. All of those creators have been mostly recognized well after their death. Nowdays they became great references.

Pointed as a art work itself by different artistic movements, it is said that the Postman Cheval’s Ideal Palace is a unclassifiable work. A work that has been classified historical monument in 1969 by André Malraux.

Cheval et l'art brut

The Surrealist’s recognition

In the 20’s, André Breton points Postman Cheval as the precursor of the Surrealistic architecture. He will come visit the Ideal Palace several times with other artists as the photographers Denise Bellon and Léonara Carington (Max Ernst’s partner).Both will take photos of the Ideal Palace that will be exposed to the Moma in New-York in 1936.

In 1932 André Breton will pay a tribute to Postman Cheval through a poem called : “The white haired revolver”.
The artist Max Ernst paid a tribute to Ferdinand Cheval as well. It is now exposed at the Guggenheim Fondation in Venice.

A naïve art reference in the worldwide

In 1945, Jean Dubuffet elaborated on the concept of Naïve art : “By Naïve Art we mean all the work realized by individuals who have no artistic culture, in which mimetism, contrary to what happens in the intellectual world, … We see here all the artistic operation, pure, raw, entirely reinvented by its author from his own impulses…” He’ll recognize Ferdinand Cheval as a real pionner of Naïve art. By the way, the largest Naïve art collection has been gathered by Dubuffet in Lausanne and it mentions Postman Cheval and his work.

In 2012 for the Ideal Palace century, an exhibition has been dedicated to Ferdinand Cheval’s work and was introduced to the Naïve art collection in Lausanne. An undeniable symbol for this Naïve art cradle to which Jean Dubuffet gave as a gift in 1971 this whole collection constituted of 5,000 pieces

A reference of Naïve art according to André Malraux

Considering the Palace as the only example of Naïve architecture and rulling in favour of Breton, Picasso, Tinguely, Niki de Saint Phalle’s opinion – whom admiration for Ferdinand Cheval had no bounds - André Malraux classifies the building in 1969.

Concerning the Palace he’ll say:

What is the Ideal Palace ? It is the only example of Naïve architecture. Naïve art is a common phenomenon, know by all of us with no architecture …At a time when Naïve art has acquired a considerable influence, it would be childish not to list the only work of naïve architecture in the world, and wait until it is destroyed, when we are lucky enough to own it.

André Malraux