Montrer l'invisible et dire l'indicible : images et langages du divin dans les écrits sur l'art de Joris-Karl Huysmans

Abstract : On numerous occasions, Huysmans points out the problems he encounters as an art critic and the limitation of art criticism as a genre. Indeed, the inability of language to depict painting is a recurring theme in his writings on art. But from the 1890s, while Huysmans takes a bigger interest in religious art, the unspeakable of the painting gets another dimension and another meaning as it reaches the invisibility of the Divine Itself. Sacred art manages to make visible and tangible, through the painting, what is invisible to the human eye - the divinity - and beyond understanding for human reason - the mystery. This is what fascinates Huysmans in describing these paintings ; he and the painter face similar challenges : showing the invisible, making visible something that cannot be seen. The painter of the Divine has to represent what has no image, and the art critic has to show an absent picture. But despite a precise description of lines and shades, Huysmans has a feeling that he is missing the painting : "Ces détails sont exacts et cependant rien de tout cela n'est vrai, car tout se transfigure". Huysmans chooses a subjective criticism who tries not only to show the picture, but also to make the reader feel what the critic felt seeing the painting. Thus, he does not estimate the quality of a religious picture according to technical or aesthetic criteria, but in a subjective way : the painting has to make the spectator feel the presence of God. But words fail to describe a visual experience which is close to mystic ecstasy. Given the limitations of art criticism, Huysmans explores the possibilities of the novel to give a literary equivalent for the masterpieces of religious art.
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Contributor : Aude Jeannerod <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 3:16:21 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, December 19, 2019 - 8:52:05 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-00944985, version 1



Aude Jeannerod. Montrer l'invisible et dire l'indicible : images et langages du divin dans les écrits sur l'art de Joris-Karl Huysmans. Textimage, Lyon : Textimage, 2010, non paginé. ⟨hal-00944985⟩



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