Neil Young’s Film Lounge – Jean Baptiste Marot

Published on: March 23rd, 2004

Hello I am Jean Baptiste Marot and I made the paintings of the eric Rohmer’s movie the Lady and the Duke. Maybe this following little text could interest you:

Tableaux for the Cinema

In 1998, Eric Rohmer asked me to make 36 paintings of Paris that would depict historical views of the city during the French revolution. These paintings had to be made as genuine paintings of the time in which actors would move around and play. To fulfil this specific order, I made up a 36 sketches story-board working on the best pictorial points of view for the urban spaces needed by the show.

Among these 36 sketches, 3 views were inspired by XIXth century paintings : Le Pont au Change and Le Pont Saint Michel by Corot and a view of Saint Roch church exhibited at Muse Carnavalet. All the other sketches were made in observing the existing sites and with the help of ancient maps, engravings, documents… A set of remarkable photographs of Paris taken by Marville just before the important demolition ordered by Haussmann during the XIXth century contributed to rediscover architectures that do no longer exist.

I had to reconstitute lost sites and to draw them from unknown standpoints like le Palais des Tuileries or le Chteau de Meudon, using topographic

plans to reveal the slopes and levels of the former landscape which has been nowadays drowned by a dense urbanisation. In the same time, we constructed the paintings in 3D images, putting all the sites and buildings on plans in order to fit the perspective of the paintings with the shot pictures, the painters point of view becoming the cameras focus, its length, its direction. I had to know very precisely the width of the streets, porches, the height of the steps… so that the actors would not pass trough the walls or walk one foot over the ground !

All data were programmed for the shooting in a laser pinpointing the accurate places and ways of the actors in a green painted studio. In being faithful to antique painting (Vedute were very fashionable at the time), I had to adapt the oil-painting technique of ancient chiaroscuro in order to avoid any damage due to the different pictures productions (photography, digitalisation, film…).

What I have been mostly interested in this long term work has been to make visual the gap between the image of the painting (memory of the subjective feelings of a place) and the reality itself. Being able, Place de la Concorde for instance, to embrace at a glance all the little lodges of the moats (today steles of inner-cities), the statue of Louis XV, the horses of Marly, materialising an idealistic view, where nothing could be hidden by nothing, that would be impossible to get with a naked eye.

I also enjoyed to pivot slightly la Porte Saint-Denis and to flatten, distort and move the surrounding elements according to the best perspective for the painting. These techniques (painting and perspective) i required for this work are the ones i generally use in the practice of my art, conceiving tableaux, lamps or piece of furniture as objects halfway between images and things. I call my special marotte * Tableaux pour la maison.

Jean Baptiste Marot.

Click here to read the review of L’Anglaise et le Duc

This film appeared in the Fipresci Selection 2001-2002 : click here for full list