In our attempt to keep alive our memory of this unique artist, we can mention the following achievements :
Point of sale display : December 1944 (Moulins France)
This exhibition was organized by the artist’s friends on the premises of a leather goods dealer of Moulins, 10 Wagram str., during the second half of December 1944. It was well received as witnessed by its inauguration by the city mayor. A pastel work was acquired by the town hall in March 1945, bearing the title : “La Partie de Campagne” (a country outing), inventoried under n°45-1-1 and measuring 71x59cm frame included, with the artist’s signature in the lower right. This work was still on display in the sixties, but later disappeared from view. Our enquiries as to its fate have remained so far unanswered.
This was the second only selling exhibition held in his lifetime. The first being the one that took place at the “Salon des Independants” in 1930. Indeed, he had enrolled as a member of the Independent Artists that same year, and two works of his were then shown : a drawing numbered 1175, and Loulou, n°1176.
The paucity of public showing goes a long way towards explaining why he has remained so little known.
However, there were several posthumous exhibitions, ordered at the behest of Mrs Camille Carnat, the artist’s mother-in-law, after her daughter’s demise. The first two took place in Fontainebleau during the artist’s daughter’s minority, a most irregular action, which led to the dispersal of a number of pastels (April 1961 : 30 pastels, April 1962 : 12 pastels).
Following these two “ money-back” initiatives, as we might call them, two other more elaborate exhibitions were organized, both at the Hôtel Drouot, as follows :
June 2 1967 : The exhibition was presented thus : “ A Constant Detré retrospective, evoking Pascin, Modigliani, Kisling, Montparnasse and the roaring twenty-thirties”. On the eve of the Hôtel Drouot sale, a see-before-you-buy display was held at the auctioneer’s premises, Maitre ROBERT, who had classified the works by date and category, i.e drawings, watercolors, pastels and gouaches.
In all 134 items were put up for sale but not all was dispersed. What was left unsold went back to where it had come from.
June 30 1969 : this time the costs of the sale were hardly recouped, contrary to expectations, a fact which goes a long way towards explaining why the artist’s only daughter always felt bitter about the whole business.
Post-mortem jubilee, 8th and 9th April 1995 :
This celebration of the artist’s memory was organized by his daughter with the assistance of the municipality of Garnat sur Engièvre and it enjoyed a measure of success, being praised in the local newspaper La Montagne (3rd April 1995 p.5). It can be noted whith some amusement, that a quite harmless example of Detré’s art (“Scène au Jardin”, Garden Scene : see the gallery) which was displayed in the shopwindow of a framemaker’s shopwindow (“Atelier Wagram”) in Moulins created quite a flurry ! On the occasion of the jubilee the artist’s only daughter made gift of two pastels (“Geneviève de Rupé au bord du canal” and a landscape : “Les Gennetais”) to the village municipality. These are displayed in the local Town Hall.
Official site of Painter Constant DETRÉ (www.cdetre.com )