45 years in the woods and eternity in museums. It is the life of Jean-Marie Massou, the not so wild man who left a formidable artistic heritage in Marminiac in the Lot. An open-air museum could be created there
“Please Jean-Marie, stop digging! “. These were the last words that Rachel French, mayor of Marminiac, spoke at the funeral of Jean-Marie Massou who died at the age of 70 in May 2020 after a life spent in the woods. Its territory, which extends over just over two hectares, is much more than a vast wooded area.
This is Massou’s huge secret garden. A veritable open-air museum where for 45 years he tirelessly dug galleries, wells, a chasm, sculpted stones and even erected a pyramid.
All this with bare hands and alone! How did he get there? This will remain the eternal mystery of the life of Jean-Marie Massou. A mystery to dig? No, certainly not, Rachel French said it, she no longer wants us to dig, but on the contrary that we get out of the ground and from the bottom of the multiple galleries of Massou, the treasures that they contain.
Treasures to be shown in broad daylight and if possible in museums likely to be interested in primitive art and in the particular and precious creations of this hermit who dreamed with open eyes of a better world. He shouted it loud and clear in a language that belonged only to him. A language spoken or sung and recorded on cassettes.
A wild man who dreamed of a world of sweetness
Jean-Marie Massou, who lived in the wild, without exercising the slightest form of savagery, was fascinated by the Disney universe and dreamed of a much more pleasant and magical society for children. Many said he didn’t like women. It’s wrong ! He was opposed to procreation, because he felt that today’s world had nothing good to offer children.
“So he was digging and extending galleries which he thought had been started by extraterrestrials and were going to open up to a better world,” underlines one of his best friends, André Bargues, former mayor of Marminiac.
Like Massou who extended existing galleries hoping to reach a heavenly elsewhere, André Bargues extends Massou’s work by doing everything so that this exceptional artist does not sink into oblivion. “We created the association The Sidereal and the website https://www.lesideral.org in order to perpetuate the memory and work of Jean-Marie Massou. The works, should we rather say, because in addition to the sculpted rocks, the wells, the galleries and the abyss, we must not forget its engraved pebbles, but also its cassettes. Some of his creations are currently exhibited at the Miam museum in Sète, then will be from November 23 and until spring at the Art et Marges museum in Brussels, before perhaps a new exhibition in Tours” lists André Bargues.
An open-air museum
Since Massou’s work has been publicized and brought to light, the artist has been a passion. “Our association has bought almost the entire territory of Jean-Marie where masterful sculptures remain. We want to preserve this place. It is still closed to the public, as it is considered dangerous due to the barely visible galleries,” explains André Bargues.
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Lot: Massou, the wild man, died in the woods where he lived for 45 years and left behind an incredible artistic heritage
The idea is to make it an open-air, fully secure museum. We could then enter a vast gallery, the most beautiful of Jean-Marie Massou, and come face to face with one of his major works: Le Sidéral. A boat, but also the title of a novel he had dictated to his mother.
“He talks about a fantastic world populated by elephants and giant bees. He wanted to save endangered species,” concludes André Bargues.
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Lot: the last tribute to Massou, the man of the woods in perpetual quest for a better world
Doesn’t the Sidereal represent Massou’s ark? The one who was said to be wild and unstable was in fact a humble and avid protector of humans and nature. A man full of kindness, without an ounce of savagery.