Les Sables d’Olonne

Roland Barthes

Musee de l’Abbaye Saint-Croix

In January 1981, the graphic exercises of Roland Barthes were shown at Nancy. Now, the Musée des Sables d’Olonne presents about a hundred “drawings,” executed between 1971 and 1976. The title, “Roland Barthes, 1915–1980: Drawings,” is, above all, a proper name. It denotes less the semiologist, essayist, critic, and director of studies at the Collège de France, than the writer. The word “drawings” is there to simplify things. “Semiography” would have been better; unlike “drawing,” or “painting,” semiography does not denote a body of work. Tracing and graphic writing to no purpose, for the sheer pleasure of it—this material is clearly that of an amateur.

There are, in all, about 700 works in watercolor, gouache, and pen and ink (or all three together), and in pastel and felt-tip pen. The surface is randomly chosen—drawing paper or letterhead stationery. The drawings are characterized by three

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