For a long time I’ve wanted to do a post about the beautiful Colette Lumiere. A few years ago, I ran across a video of her in the process of painting a large scale, segmented, mosaic-style work, in the middle of a street in New York, all the while exquisitely dressed in a white jumpsuit and white chunk-heel boots. I was immediately mesmerized by her and this work, and it was then that Colette was lifted to the realm of Undeniable Awesomeness in my eyes. A bit of Googling and I found out that Colette Justine (better known as Colette and from 2001 Colette Lumiere) is a prolific artist who deliciously blends elements of Dada and avant-garde with a fantasy-based Baroque sensibility, in virtually every aspect of art imaginable. She has been a pioneer in performance art, guerrilla street art, constructed photography, film and installation art, as well as expressing her distinctive vision through more traditional media and forms, such as drawing, painting, collage, and sculpture. I had wanted to do her bio for the Artist Birthday Series that I have been working on for the past few years, but was never actually able to find a date of birth for her. But now, after seeing her luscious, gorgeous, timeless works of of dreamy, flowing fabric with my very own eyes during a recent visit to New York, I decided to put the birthday aside and just celebrate her brilliance for its own sake. (UPDATE: I have since discovered her birthday is October 8)
Colette was a French national born in Tunis, Tunisia, and grew up in Nice, France. She later moved to the United States and became a naturalized citizen. In 1970 she had herself photographed as “Liberty Leading The People,” after the famous painting by Delacroix. Later in 1972, she presented the photograph as part of a large performance/installation piece in a gallery in New York, where she converted the space into an other-worldly dreamscape. The gallery had been transformed by yards of silk drapery and indirect/hidden lighting, with the floor painted lavender and inscribed with her own personal “code,” as well as audio installation and the centerpiece, Colette herself posing as if a living photograph, as Liberté.
In 1973, the Stefonatty Gallery in New York offered her a solo show, where she exhibited sixteen over-life-sized, 3D mixed media paintings entitled “The Sandwomen,” all of which resembled Colette. She also converted the gallery office into an alternate Colette-style reality, with white scrunched silk, hidden lights and no furniture. In this environment she posed as the “Sleeping Gypsy,” after the painting by Henri Rouseau, entitling the performance as “The Transformation Of The Sleeping Gypsy Without The Lion.” Other performances from the early ’70’s that employed her now trademark abundance of fabric and passion were “Persophone’s Bedroom,” for the Norton Museum in Miami, Florida, and “If It Takes Forever I Will Wait For You,” for the Idea Warehouse, part of the Clocktower Gallery, in New York.% | % | % | % | % | % | % | % | % | % | % | % | %