In 1945, Jean Dubuffet gave the name l'Art Brut to the art of the mentally handicapped, psychiatric patients and other people on the margins of society. Dubuffet was one of the first collectors of this art, and said, "Its best moments are when it forgets its name." However, there are many names for this type of art: folk art, self-taught art, and the more exact English translation for Dubuffet's term -- Outsider Art.
Dubuffet also used the term Neuve Invention (New Invention) to describe the work of certain artists who fell between Art Brut and mainstream contemporary art. John Maizels, editor of Raw Vision magazine, clarifies these terms by saying that today, in France, l'Art Singulier corresponds more closely to the category "New Invention."
Danielle Jacqui has used painting, sculpture and eccentric constructions to transform her home into a total artistic environment.
Danielle Jacqui, who lives in Pont de l'Etoile-en-Provence, a small village near Marseille, calls herself "The One Who Paints," and, actually, she paints incessantly. Jacqui has covered the facade of her home with paintings, writing and sculpture. This facade has become a tapestry of vibrant colors. Inside her home, everything -- walls, hallways, ceiling, floors, furniture -- is covered with paintings, grotesque sculpture and other unusual forms. No surface has escaped. The visitor almost feels dizzy. For the past ten years, Danielle Jacqui has covered more and more of the interior of her home until today all the rooms are filled with her art. Her painted dresses, painted chairs, decorated cabinets, enormous sculptures and paintings have even taken over what was once the kitchen. Her kitchen has disappeared.
As a brocanteuse (or second-hand dealer) for many years, Jacqui has assembled a large collection of buttons, glassware, fabrics, books and antiques, which she incorporates into her art. She decorates the dresses she wears not only with painting but also with embroidery. She also makes large dolls covered with hand-embroidered fabrics, feathers and buttons.
Jacqui's total environment is the product of her artistic obsession. Her husband, Claude Leclerc, supports her efforts and says with a laugh, "If I stand in one place too long, she will paint me all over, like a tattoo."
Danielle Jacqui has been and remains active in the feminist movement in the Marseille region. In 1993, she organized the Festival of Art Singulier in Roquevaire. Since then, this group of regional artists has exhibited together annually. Jacqui also publishes a small magazine which functions as an intimate journal of her thoughts and theories in the form of poetry, prose and drawings. Even the packaging of "The Bulletin of the One Who Paints" has been transformed into a type of Mail Art, decorated and embellished with extraordinary stamps and covered with gold, silver and multicolored drawings. This bulletin, a limited and private edition, goes out to only a few select friends and admirers.
Jacqui has shown her works in many exhibitions in France, notably Art Brut and Company: The Hidden Side of Contemporary Art, in Paris in 1995-96. This year, her work will be part of the exhibition Error and Eros at the American Visionary Art Museum in Baltimore. For this exhibit, she has fabricated several wedding dresses, Robes de Mariage, fit for a queen -- a queen of dreams.