Artist Profile: Jean Marais

by Lindsay Shapka in , ,

Dutilleul             Place Marcel Ayme, Paris 

The Montmartre Quarter of Paris is filled with steep, winding cobblestone streets lined with cafes, fragrant bakeries, one of a kind shops, and homes being engulfed by ivy. It is in this quarter, in a small, quiet stone square called place Marcel Ayme, that a curious statue of a man emerging from a stone wall can be found. 

Created by the late actor Jean Marais, this man seems caught between two worlds. Only part of his body can be seen emerging through the thick stone, leaving the missing pieces to be imagined by the viewer. 

Jean Marais always dreamed of being an actor, but after being rejected from two drama schools, he started working as a photography assistant and a golf caddy. In 1933, he got his big break when he debuted in a film called L’epervier by director Marcel L’Herbier. From there, he went on to play over a hundred roles as an actor in the French cinema, but was also known as a writer, sculptor and painter.

His work depicted here portrays Dutilleul, the hero of Marcel Ayme’s short story Le Passe-Muraille (The Walker Through Walls). In the story, Dutilleul wakes up one morning to discover that he can do exactly what is shown, pass through solid walls.

Now darkened by the elements, the sculpture can almost be mistaken for a real person when walking towards it from a distance. Being that it is in a quieter part of the quarter, this can make for an eerie encounter, and one not to miss.  

Check out these amazing sculptures, by artist Matteo Pugliese, that have a similar look.