What about painting?

It came to me as a mean to say these “important things” you don’t speak about. These things can’t be said clearly. They are literally unspeakable. They become blurry and they eventually vanish when analysed.

They can be expressed only by allusion.


On a brûlé les ruches blanches
On a brûlé les ruches blanches
Oil on canvas, 61 cm x 38 cm
Paris, January 1960

On a brûlé les ruches blanches

(The white beehives have been burnt)

Ever since he started painting, Montlaur found his inspiration in the works of Guillaume Apollinaire, the poet closest to him figuratively but also physically. Montlaur kept Apollinaire’s “Alcools” with him throughout the war, and in particular when he landed on the Normandy beaches on D-Day.

And you crawling after me
God of my gods who die in autumn
Who measure out what life
I have a right to
My shadow my ancient serpent

Since you adore it I led you
To the sun remember
Shadow wife I love
Because you are nothing you are mine
O my shadow mourning me

Winter is dead covered in snow
The white beehives have been burnt
In gardens and orchards
Birds on branches sing
Bright April airy Spring

(Guillaume Apollinaire, La Chanson du Mal-Aimé,
The Milky Way -Translated by Martin Sorell)

As in his paintings Sainte-Fabeau and La licorne et le capricorne , Montlaur reproduces on the canvas verses from Apollinaire’s La Chanson du Mal-Aimé. The poet asks his shadow, “his dark wife”, how many spans of earth he will need to dig his grave. Now winter is dead, the beehives have frozen and are burning, the birds are singing, it is springtime.

One can easily recognize the white beehive, with yellow and red flames, a blue sky. There are a few spans of earth at the bottom of the painting.

See the retrospective


Oranges et bananes
Oranges et bananes
54 cm × 65 cm
La nuit des sens
La nuit des sens
65 cm × 92 cm
Nice 1952
La promesse des fleurs
La promesse des fleurs
73 cm × 92 cm
La nuit du 14 au 15 août
La nuit du 14 au 15 août
46 cm × 55 cm
Rotheneuf 1972

See the selection