The exhibition “Arctic Twilight” showing pastels by Jean Malaurie and organized by UNESCO in cooperation with MIARC and Galerie Orenda (Paris) is held at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, January 18 to 25, 2024.
Author of The Last Kings of Thule (1955), the most widely distributed book on Greenland in the world, Jean Malaurie, born 1922 in Mainz, Germany, donated his Arctic collections gathered from his 31 missions in the circumpolar Arctic to the Oceanographic Institute/Prince Albert 1st of Monaco Foundation, in 2022.
Some of the objects in the collection can currently be seen in the “Polar Mission” exhibition at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco:
Director of Studies at the prestigious École des Hautes Études in Paris (EHESS) and Emeritus Research Professor at the French National Research Centre (CNRS), Jean Malaurie is world-renowned for his work in Arctic geomorphology and geocryology, as well as his ethnographic accounts dedicated to the Inuit and other First Nations of the Far North. Founder and director of the famous “Terre Humaine” book series published by Plon since 1955, he has never ceased to defend the Indigenous peoples of the Arctic and elsewhere in the world.
Jean Malaurie has also directed a series of films for French television. The general public has had the opportunity to see his pastels exhibited at the Galerie Orenda in Paris in 2018 and 2022, then at the Oceanographic Institute from 15 Decembre 2022 to 24 January 2023, and at the University of Greenland in Nuuk from 2 May to 30 June 2023.
Although this activity represents a lesser-known aspect of his work, it is important insofar as his pastels “are references to the author’s meditations on nature and shamanism”, as the ethnologist Joëlle Rostkowski observes. This exhibition bears witness to Jean Malaurie’s vision of the world, shared with that of the Indigenous peoples after more than half a century of Arctic expeditions.
As he recalls in his masterly memoir De la pierre à l’âme (From Stone to the Soul), published in the “Terre Humaine” series in 2022, he captures – “chalk in hand” – the subtle colours “of the mineral and glacial environment of the pack ice”, drawing inspiration from the animistic soul of his fellow companions.
Following the publication of the album of his pastels “Arctic Twilight”, published by Éditions El Viso, here is the eponymous exhibition. It shows the inspired pastels of a singular man who attaches particular importance to emotion.
“Happy Birthday, dear Professor!” from the whole team at UNESCO, the Malaurie Institute of Arctic Research Monaco-UVSQ and Galerie Orenda.