Lesage Simon Crépin: painters, spiritualists & healers

4th October 2019 – 5th January 2020

LaM – Lille Métropole Museum of Modern Art, Contemporary Art and Art Brut, 1 allée du Musée, 59650 Villeneuve d’Ascq, France

This exhibition invites you to explore the universe in the work of the three great figures of spiritualist painting: Augustin Lesage (1876-1954), Victor Simon (1903-1976) and Fleury Joseph Crépin (1875-1948), all three from from the North of France. They were working as a miner, plumber and coffee maker until voices commanded them to paint, and under the guidance of the beyond, it changed the course of their lives. In the middle of the 19th century, the spiritualist wave came from the United States and quickly became a phenomenon in all societies. The wars of the 20th century, which upset Europe, provoked the revival of these practices.

Organized chronologically, historically and thematically, the exhibition proposes to discover spiritualist practices beyond those of painting by presenting both archival documents, contemporary works, but also objects from civilizations and from different geographies. Designed as spiritual edifications, the paintings of Augustin Lesage, Victor Simon and Fleury Joseph Crépin combine influences and motifs from Christian, Hindu, Oriental origins or even inspired by ancient Egypt. The creations of the three painters bear the mark of impressive thoroughness and finesse. Impeccable symmetry, ornamentation and references to the Orient, particularly in Lesage and Simon, are characteristic features that are found in various spiritualist painters.

The exhibition travels through spiritualist societies, the mining basin, the world wars, the universal exhibitions before travelling to Morocco, Algeria and Egypt where these creations met with amazing success. These paintings, collected by the surrealists and notably André Breton, but also Jean Dubuffet – who classified them as art brut, or even by Nicolas Schöffer or Victor Brauner, are well known today as an international influence.

Artists presented: Christian Allard, Théophile Bra, Victor Brauner, André Breton, Yvonne Cazier, Vincent Ceraudo, Fleury Joseph Crépin, Fernand Desmoulin, Robert Desnos, Abdelkrim Doumar, Paul Éluard, Abdelhakim Henni, Auguste Herbin, Louise Hervé & Chloé Maillet, Victor Hugo, Vassily Kandinsky, Mathilde Lavenne, Lempereur-Haut, Rainier Lericolais, Augustin Lesage, Frédéric Logez, Timo Nasseri, Stéfan Nowak, Mme Bouttier, Frantisek Pecka, Danièle Perronne, Victorien Sardou, Nicolas Schöffer, Victor Simon Lucien Suel and Elmar Trenkwalder.

Savine Faupin, chief curator in charge of art brut at LaM, Christophe Boulanger, conservation assistant in charge of art brut, assisted by Gaye-Thaïs Florent, conservation attaché. (Above text from has been taken from the exhibition press release.)

More information on this exhibition is available in the accompanying exhibition catalogue available from LAM. Works of art from several of the exhibiting artists can be seen in our artists page.