From her home – an 18th-century Chateau near Bordeaux – Marie Ange Daudé creates portraits from feathers. These extraordinary, unique artworks caused a sensation when they were first exhibited in the US, at the artMRKT San Francisco international art fair in April this year.
Johnny Gorman of Quantum Contemporary Art takes up the story:
“The Preview Night of the fair was packed with thousands of San Francisco’s collectors, curators, and art lovers. A buzz of excitement began at our booth when they saw Marie Ange’s feather artworks. Clamoring, shouting, jostling, Amex cards waving in our faces, tears… it was the nearest thing to a riot we’ve experienced in 22 years of exhibiting at art fairs all over the world. We had four feather portraits on the wall and two back at our gallery in London. All six were sold in the first 30 minutes of the fair.”
Marie Ange was born in Limoges in Central France in 1964. She studied urban planning in order to, as she says, “beautify the world.” Mixing with architects and artists unleashed her creative passion, which she combined with her athletic endeavors – representing the Gironde region in the triathlon.
She is a fervent environmentalist and began to make artworks from what the French call objets trouvés or found objects, like old tins, newspapers, and fishing nets.
Marie Ange began experimenting with feathers (she is known in France as a Plumassiere as the French word for feather is plume) after purchasing Chateau Guiton in 1998. In 2014, she commissioned a local carpenter to build her box frames. These boxes get crisscrossed with hundreds of feet of inconspicuous fishing line. With intricate detail, Daudé gradually constructs her portraits by attaching each feather individually to the fishing line.
Her depictions of women are evoked by the softness, poignancy, and femininity of the feathers. Sometimes she will incorporate other elements, dried flowers from the local market at nearby
Sauveterre-de-Guyenne, or a piece of vintage fabric found in the attic of the Chateau.
The art world soon began to sit up and take an interest – exhibitions in Nantes, Milan, Paris, Brussels, Strasbourg, Courchevel, Lyons, and St Tropez followed. In 2016, she was awarded the top prize at the 20th annual prestigious International Salon of Contemporary Art in Marseille.
Marie Ange is, above all, an intensely free spirit; indeed, the wearing of clothes on the Chateau grounds is optional! Perhaps it is the tranquility of her surroundings – bees buzzing amongst the wildflowers in the summer heat – that enable her creation of these beautiful, evocative, gossamer-like portraits. ☐