contemporary art / history of art

Artwork of the Month / April 2021

Anti-Buste en voyage dans le Sud, pas plus de 1 km
(Anti-Bust travelling in the South, not more than 1 km)
Monique Thibaudin

Two mannequin legs, shoes, shopping bag
Ephemeral installation
Ca. 150 cm height


Monique Thibaudin’s sculpture “Anti-Bust travelling in the South, not more than 1 km” consists of two mannequin legs, one in skin colour and one transparent. They are wearing black shoes with white applications and a black and red chequered shopping back is on the top. The elements are arranged as if a woman in elegant shoes would be walking. In her ephemeral installation, the artist posed the sculpture in the middle of the street, which underlines the impression of a forward movement.

Created in the time of the lockdown due to the corona pandemic, it could be read as an ironic comment on the curfew and its effects. As in many European and Non-European countries, people were urged to stay at home and leave their houses only for essential reasons as buying food. In France, the allowed radius of movement was in certain times limited to 1 km, hence the additive in the title. Also the shopping bag refers to this regulation.

However, in contrast to the physical and psychological still stand, the sculpture expresses a high dynamic. The skin coloured preceding leg stands vertically in its shoe, its thigh is bent diagonally backwards. It is the supporting leg, even though the elegant shoe thwarts this weight balance. Whereas the transparent rear limp has the opposite posture: the thigh is installed vertical and under the knee, the lower leg is bent diagonally backwards. In consequence, the shoe touches the ground only with its tip. Thus, it is the free leg, whereby the transparency highlights the optical lightness. Functioning as lower body, the shopping bag is situated ascending forwards. This and the position at the very end of both limps emphasise a swift forward movement. Is the anti-bust speeding up to get the shopping managed? Or is she hurrying to return home as soon as possible? Or is she perhaps simply enjoying the movement in times of limited mobility?

Another aspect in this ephemeral installation is that the title of the sculpture refers to travelling. Additionally, the type of the shopping back, is partly also used as travel bag. Herewith, it refers to different forms and reasons of travelling and cultures. Does the setting stand for the strong desire to make a journey? Or to leave home to make new experiences? Or simply to enjoy to be outdoors? However, in times of lookdown and pandemic, these longings seem to be out of reach. The adjunct of the 1 km underlines this impossibility. Accordingly, the artist left her home for the photo shooting probably only for a short time. She is living in the south of France, thus the sculpture’s journey to the South was easy to realise.

Since her early artistic career, Monique uses the anti-bust as her canvas in different materials and techniques. In the present case, it is a kind of ready-made, since she used industrial prefabricated elements for assembling a sculpture. Nevertheless, it is not misappropriation to reinterpret one existing tool. The main parts of the sculpture maintain their by the form given function. They are only used in a new context.


Monique Thibaudin

Born 1952 in Chalon-sur-Saône, France, Monique lives and works in Vallauris, France and Pamparato Serra, Italy. Due to her father, who was painter, she got early in contact with art. After a diploma at the Ecole Municipale de Dessin, Art et Technique (Municipal school of drawing, arts and techniques) in her hometown and studies of sculpture at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux Arts de Lyon (National School of Fine Arts in Lyon), she entered the Ecole d’Art et d’Architecture de Marseille Luminy (School or Fine Arts and Architecture of Marseille Luminy). Here she obtained her national diploma under the tutelage of Claude Viallat, followed by a specialisation in the section of Statuary at the same school. During the time at Luminy she also got interested in art history encouraged by the lectures of Ben Vautier. In the artistic outcome, this source of inspiration became visible in references to other artists.


Her decision to use the anti-bust – an antithesis of the traditional bust – as her canvas is due to the influence of her teacher in Marseille. Claude Viallat was co-founder of the artistic group “Support-Surface”, which questioned the traditional painting support. The “deconstruction” of the painting in its constituting elements led to new artistic practices: instead of using the classical canvas on chassis, they dissociated the picture surface from the stretcher. They used different textiles, recycled found objects or worked on wood and strings. The traditional subject got less important and the materials, the creative motion and the final artwork shifted into the centre of their work.

Monique worked as well with diverse supports, but the base-subject is always the same. She created anti-busts inter alia from resin, tissues or on paper. When she settled after the end of her studies 1977 in Vallauris, she as well introduced ceramics in her canon of materials. Her sculptures are in all possible sizes. The anti-busts might be little statuettes or larger than life size and they might be composed of various materials. The results are sitting, standing or walking.

A few years ago, Monique introduced found or created objects to her sculptures, starting with animal skulls. These Hybrid Forms have their contact to earth by the feet and legs of the anti-bust, but refer also to the sky. It was as well her way to handle her anxiety of death, since the opposition earth and sky or heaven incarnates for her life and death. Our artwork of the month / January 2016 was from this series.

Drawings and collages

Besides her sculptural activities, Monique always made drawings, which she never exposed. The drawings and collages are an add-on to the anti-busts and were not preparative to them. At one point of her career, she left the three-dimensional work in benefit to the two-dimensional. Nevertheless, her drawings are often on paper of different strength and pasted on other supports. Therefore, they have an aspect of relief.

Additionally, Monique introduced imprints in her oeuvre. There might be vegetal or – like in our Artwork of the month of September 2017 – human traces. On the other hand, she stamps with her relief drawings on other materials like clay.

Further activities

During her carrier, she has formed a rich and varied artistic work, which was shown in numerous personal and group exhibitions in France, Monaco, Germany and Italy. A film by Renaud Maridet “La trace de l’invisible” (The track of the invisible), where Monique elucidates her artistic background, illustrates well her approach. 

Supplementary to her personal creations she cooperated with several different artists and institutions. Monique created and creates with Ben Vautier performances and joint sculptures. With him, Max Charvolen and Jean Jacques Laurent she conceived exhibitions. For Giorgio Laveri she has done scenography and film decors. Raphaël Monticelli wrote texts for her publications. In 2015, she founded with Jean Jacques Laurent the Galerie Itinéraire in Vallauris, which is today directed by Jean Jacques’ grandson Enzo Armando. Moreover, she is represented by several galleries in France and Italy.


Artwork of the month / September 2017

Artwork of the month / January 2016