Touret, Jean - Biography

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1947: Jean Touret in Marolles

Jean Touret, taken prisoner at the beginning of the war, is sent to the south of Germany, in the wooded mountains of Herzgebirge. He shares the rustic life of the peasants, he learns the harshness of nature. He is a lumberjack. He discovers the trees, the wood, which he learns to evaluate, cut, and cart.

Back in France, he feels unable to reintegrate the petty bourgeois world as he had known before the war. He needs to give a broader meaning to his life.

Before the war, he had attended drawing and painting lessons at Le Mans with a friend Maurice Rocher. They went together to paint in the countryside.

He finds Maurice Rocher, become a painter, who introduces him to his sister-in-law Odile. Jean Touret marries her.

He moves to Marolles, a small village of Beauce, 450 inhabitants, exclusively rural, near Blois.

There he begins a promising career as a painter. A Parisian gallery sells its production regularly. We have very few works of this period left. But suddenly the gallerist disappears. To support his large family, he begins to teach drawing in a college in Blois, and participates in fields work on farms.

Jean Touret appreciates the simplicity and authenticity of these beaucerons, peasants and craftsmen. He enters their intimacy. His workshop is the daily meeting place for the men of the village. 


1950 : Les Artisans de Marolles

Jean Touret deplores the taste of the general public for standardized furniture, manufactured in industrial materials, forgetful of traditional know-how, and withdrawing the work to local artisans.

He decides to create an association for the production of furniture and decorative objects with the craftsmen of the village by combining their know-how: a cabinetmaker, a blacksmith, a basket maker and later a ceramist.

The initial nucleus:
Jean Touret, artistic director
Maurice Leroy, carpenter in Marolles
His son Emile
Henri Vion, ferronier at Marolles
Edmond Le Flohic, basket maker in Marolles
Manuel Gold, potter installed in Marolles, come from Paris

The initial group of artisans de Marolles - 1950 - Left to right: Emile Leroy, Manuel Gold, Henri Vion, Jean Touret, Edmond Le Flohic

The ambition of Jean Touret is to develop a simple, noble and contemporary aesthetic while preserving the archetypal forms of rustic furniture. The project revitalizes the life of the village.

For example the community creation in 1950 of a carnival float, on the plans of Jean Touret. This huge mammoth, housing an operator turning the crank of a manual forge blower to spit the trumpet confetti on the crowd, placed on an agricultural trailer pulled by a flowered tractor, marched in the nearby town of Blois.

In June 1956 reporters of the ORTF (The only television channel of the time) comes to film all the details of the life of this amazing rural village beauceron awakened by his peasants craftsmen creating rustic furniture, attracting a Parisian enlightened public, inventing a new aesthetic based on ancient traditions, and developing an economic model against the current of flourishing industrialization.

Great surprise of the inhabitants to be seen almost in real time on screens arranged at every corner - television was still a rarity, none of the inhabitants of Marolles had a TV, there was only one channel, in black and white and that emitted only a few hours a day.

Pride of the inhabitants to think that they were seen at the same moment in all France.

A big Saint John fire was organized on the village square, and a ball mixed the villagers in Sunday clothes and sabot with the people of the city in varnished shoes.

He guides this community adventure with a humanism, borrowing modesty. He works the wood in his nature, especially the oak which he exacerbates the fibers. It engages collaborations by reintegrating for example the hinges on the traditional chest and the base in wrought iron. The furniture object is at the heart of his thinking. This patient work is exhibited locally and progressively knows a local and national success sold in the decoration workshop of Primavera (Grands Magasins du Printemps) in Paris, then directed by Colette Guéden.

The furniture of Marolles is a great commercial success. The production of Artisans de Marolles is insufficient to meet the demand which creates problems.
In 1964, Jean Touret moves from Marolles, to the Des Montils, still in the Blésois, but south of the Loire.

In 1964 Jean Touret decides to devote himself entirely to sculpture; he leaves the artistic direction of the group of "Craftsmen of Marolles and Loir et Cher". The artisans of the initial group regain their autonomy to found a new group.

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