Couleur et littérature dans les écrits sur l'art de Joris-Karl Huysmans

Abstract : Defining the aim of his art criticism, Joris-Karl Huysmans wrote : "surtout décrire le tableau de telle façon que celui qui en lit la traduction écrite, le voie". In other words, Huysmans, with his writings on art, tends to make visible the painting he describes ; thus, he faces a considerable challenge, i.e. verbalising colour, which seems beyond language. As shown in Jacques Dupont's and Jacqueline Lichtenstein's works, Huysmans's art criticism uses a wide range of metaphors to translate colours. The difficulty to write colour, to make it perceptible by the reader who does not see the painting, results to a spontaneous recourse to synesthesia, replacing sight with other senses and thus conducing to smell, taste, touch and hear the shades. However, another analogy, which does not appeal to sensation but sensibility, enables to see the absent colour : the literary metaphor. To call colour to mind, Huysmans not only uses his own words, but he also compares the colours of artists to the language of other writers, following Baudelaire's "correspondances". Thus, the recourse to this analogy points out the inability of art criticism as a genre to depict colour, and its necessity to convene other texts to suggest what it fails to tell. Nevertheless, Huysmans attempts to transcend this generic limitation, since he does not only establish existing "correspondances", but also creates them.
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Contributor : Aude Jeannerod <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, February 11, 2014 - 3:25:09 PM
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  • HAL Id : hal-00944996, version 1



Aude Jeannerod. Couleur et littérature dans les écrits sur l'art de Joris-Karl Huysmans. La Couleur : entre silence et éloquence, Jun 2009, Paris, France. ⟨hal-00944996⟩



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