Born in 1913, Vallenay, France; died in 1978 in Bourges, France.
A painter, poet, designer, photographer and illustrator, Bascoulard inhabited an idiosyncratic universe of his own making. Though he left behind a diverse body of work, the photographs he took of himself dressed in elaborate feminine attire are the most intriguing, mysterious, and well-known. Marcel Bascoulard’s life was filled with paradoxes. A recluse, he knew everyone in town. A vagrant, he was rumored to have a small fortune. A withdrawn figure, he remained informed on current events, purchasing magazines each morning from his neighborhood newsstand. A quiet man, he taught himself five languages.
Born in a village near Bourges, a small town in central France, Bascoulard displayed extraordinary draftsmanship from an early age. A reserved student, he possessed an incredible visual memory and was capable of recreating maps of France, Africa and Asia with acute precision. He held a deep fascination with trains, and hoped to one day become an engineer. But after graduating from middle school at age seventeen, he opted for the solitary life of an ascetic, living on the outskirts of town in a makeshift home made from the remnants of an abandoned truck with his art as his only possession.
Starting in the 1930s, Bascoulard sold and bartered landscape paintings and drawings of the monuments and medieval streets of Bourges to locals. Using simple materials, mostly ink, colored pencil and pastel that he would smudge with his fingers on recycled paper, his conventional souvenir pictures are near-photographic representations. He often traded these works for food and milk for his rescued cats, which often appeared in his drawings and photographs. While his drawings were accepted by the bourgeois townspeople, the same cannot be said of his photography.
Bascoulard photographed himself beginning in 1942 until his death in 1978 and brought to his efforts the same scrupulous dedication and discipline evident in his drawings. He sometimes photographed himself as an over-the-top derelict in rags with a scruffy beard (an accurate depiction of his everyday garb), but images of him in feminine attire predominate. His early 1940s photographs capture a performative period in which he appeared in traditional nineteenth-century women’s fashion, and used a photographic studio and dramatic camera angles. By the 1950s, he began posing in a consistent style, eye-level to the camera with spare, less theatrical backgrounds.
Bascoulard’s work was first introduced to American audiences in 2021 in the seminal exhibition Photo Brut at the American Folk Art Museum. His work has been shown extensively in Europe: at the Musée d’art moderne et contemporain in Saint-Etienne, France; the Fort Institute of Photography, in Warsaw, Poland; Halle Saint Pierre in Paris; the Musée de Grenoble, Grenoble, France; the Punta della Dogana in the Pinault Collection, Venice, Italy; and during the Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles, France.
SELECTED SOLO EXHIBITIONS
Being Marcel Bascoulard, Andrew Edlin Gallery, New York, NY
Sélection, Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris, FR
Marcel Bascoulard, Kunsthaus Bregenz, Vienna, AU
Marcel Bascoulard / Special Guest Jürgen Klauke, Delmes & Zender, Cologne, DE
Marcel Bascoulard, un autre monde, Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris, FR
Marcel Bascoulard, Sismographe du temps nerveux, Galerie La Box, Bourges, FR
SELECTED GROUP EXHIBITIONS
L’énigme autodidacte, MAMC+, Saint-étienne, FR
You’ve gone Incognito: Cross-Dressing and Home Photoshoots, Fort Institute of Photography, Warsow, PL
Photo Brut: Collection Decharme & Compagnie, American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY
Sâr Dubnotal, curated by Damien Dellile and Céline Poulin, CAC Brétigny, Brétigny, FR
Abstract sex: We don’t have any clothes, only equipment, Artissima Fair, Turin, IT
PHOTO I BRUT, Collection Bruno Decharme & Compagnie, Arles Les Rencontres de la Photographie, Arles, FR
Travel Memories, The Antoine de Galbert Collection, Musée de Grenoble, Grenoble (FR)
Dancing with Myself, curated by Martin Bethenod and Florent Epner, Punta della Dogana, Pinault Collection, Venezia, IT
ESPACE PRIVÉ, Galerie Christophe Gaillard, Paris, FR
Les Cahiers dessinés, Halle Saint-Pierre, Paris, FR
American Folk Art Museum, New York, NY
Collection Antoine de Galbert, Paris, FR
Collection abcd, Bruno Decharme, Montreuil, FR
Collection Musée des Beaux-arts de Paris, Paris, FR
Collection Pinault, Paris, FR
Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles, Bruxelles, BE
Cartle Blanche and Smith & Piton, “The Eyes #11,” in Transgalactique
Marcel Bascoulard, Un autre Monde, Galerie Christophe Gaillard, 2016
Martinat, Patrick. Bascoulard. Dessinateur virtuose, clochard magnifique, femme inventée, Les Cahiers Dessinés, 2014, Prix Mauvais Genre 2015
Martinat, Patrick. “Virtuous Draftsman, Gorgeous Tramp, Invented Woman,” Les Cahiers Dessinés, November 2014,
Capo, Bernard. “Monsieur Bascoulard,” BulleBerry éditions, 2013
Martinat, Patrick. “Bascoulard,” Arts & Photo Éditions, 2000
Favière, Jean. “Bascoulard”, imprimerie Desquand à Bourges, 1978