L'art contemporain martiniquais de 1939 à nos jours : la naissance d'une histoire de l'art dans un contexte postcolonial

Abstract : In 1943, René Hibran, French artist who had recently moved to Martinique states : « il n?y a pas d?art local ou si peu, si réduit dans ses manifestations ! ». Already four years ago, Father Delawarde did the same comment. However, in 2009, the art world has expanded considerably. A specific aesthetic developed far away from Western academism, plastic expression not stopping to fill out. Places of diffusion have opened and offer expositions of quality. A scientific discourse builds up, thus legitimating local production. Transmission is also insured thanks to the work of schools, including the Institut Régional d?Arts Visuels de la Martinique (also known as IRAVM). Our thesis aims at explaining how such an evolution is possible given the difficult context still subject to the torments of postcolonialism. So, we postulate that ?history of art? mechanism grew in seventy years. Influenced by the postcolonial context which imposes resistance, by a literary world which initiates an identity expression?s quest, Martinique?s art is also dependent on actor?s commitment, in particular leader artists. Our thesis relies on a social vision of art. We consider the art world as a ?history of art? mechanism, as a whole of four interrelated elements: production, broadcasting, transmission and legitimization.A first period of time, spreading from 1939 ? beginning of the Second World War ? to 1956 ? first statement of departmentalisation ? allows to lay the bases of this mechanism. During the world conflict, Martinique had to face the racist and repressive politics of Admiral Robert, the Vichy government?s representative in the Antilles, as well as a blockade aggravating an already precarious economic situation. Attachment to the metropolis gets more complicated. Between fidelity and disillusionment, a new status emerges. In 1946, Martinique becomes an overseas French department. The situation also evolves from a cultural point of view. Already in the 1930?s, a series of publications from black students in Paris questions the colonialist assimilation: Légitime Défense, in 1932, L?étudiant Noir, in 1936, where Aimé Césaire talks for the first time of Negritude. Martinique, which had only looked so far in the direction of France, turns now to a new centre: Africa, and discovers a new aspect of its identity. Plastic arts follow this upheaval. The world conflict makes the island a place of safety, a call for all the intellectuals fleeing from Nazi Europe: André Breton, Claude Lévi-Strauss or Cuban artist Wifredo Lam stayed there for sojourns of varied lengths. Less famous artists also land on the island. They unveil workshops open to all and import a vision of art that is completely original. With them, art is no longer an idle activity for young bourgeois, but rather a place of expression. Local artists therefore emerge, artists wishing to express the new identity detected by literary people. Indeed, they do not just create, but invest themselves in all the mechanism?s elements. In 1956, Césaire, deputy mayor of Fort-de-France, resigns from the French Communist Party, disappointed by the exactions of Stalinism and the FCP?s incapacity to fight postcolonialism. This resignation starts a long period of time marked by a fight against postcolonialism. Martinique is affected by a social and economic crisis, departmentalisation disappointed many. Moreover, some pied-noirs arriving from newly independent Maghreb countries and some CRS do not hide their disregard from black populations. The situation gets even tenser and violent conflicts burst out. In order to avoid an aggravation of these conditions ? the spectre of Algeria is well present in minds ? France sets up a new politic focusing on repression and migration. The objective is to shut up any resistance and to empty the country from it youth, youth that is often at the origin of riots. However this repression, only strengthens the resistance, which organises itself firstly in the political world and secondly in the associative world. The national fact is progressively acknowledged. If Martinique is a nation, it then needs a new identity. Authors such as Edouard Glissant, Patrick Chamoiseau, Raphaël Confiant and Jean Bernabé will feed this quest for identity. The evolution of the celebrations related to the 1848 abolition of slavery also participates to the formation of the Martinique people actors of their past and their future. Such considerations nourish artists. The Negro-Caribbean School offer a Caribbean aesthetic that is rich from the importance of its African bases. The Fwomajé group concentrates its attention on all the roots funding the island?s cultural hinterland: Europe, Africa, America and Asia. Independent artists also join this hunt for an identity and an aesthetic that expresses this identity. In parallel, the mechanism builds up. An academic discourse is developing. Cultural institutions multiply, and even more since culture becomes a major political stake.
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Marie Louis. L'art contemporain martiniquais de 1939 à nos jours : la naissance d'une histoire de l'art dans un contexte postcolonial. Art et histoire de l'art. Université Paul Verlaine - Metz, 2009. Français. ⟨NNT : 2009METZ030L⟩. ⟨tel-01752630⟩

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