Guidette Carbonell (1910 – 2008) is a prolific artist most known for her ceramic works, and most notably for her glazed earthenware. Born to a painter mother and with a resolutely independent character, she trained in drawing outside of the Beaux-Arts circuits. From the age of 15, she took classes in the free workshops on Paris Left Bank, then attended primary and secondary studies in Sèvres. Later, she enrolled simultaneously at the Académie de la Grande-Chaumière, the Académie Suédoise and the Académie Ranson, where she benefited from the teachings of the painters André Lhote, Othon Friesz and Roger Bissière. She completed her training at a decorative arts school located on rue de Fleurus , where she was introduced to clay modeling and developed a particular taste for this discipline.


Her first creations were mainly brightly colored tableware and sculpture. She made a name for herself as soon as she came of age at the Salon d’automne of 1928, where along other young artists of her generation, she brought about a renewal in the world of fire arts. Her ceramics reintroduce the plastic arts and figuration, in a context of great formal sobriety where the previous generations of artists drew strong inspiration from Asian craft traditions.


Throughout all her career she was deeply drawn by the world of childhood . In the immediate post-war period, between 1946 and 1948 her works inspired by Bernard Palissy presented cherubs and mischievous animals in a humorous mythological universe.



In the immediate post-war period, she also produced a number of pieces for the galerie Jeanne Bucher, including tableware and planters featuring modeled or engraved decorations of fantastical beasts and plants. In the 5o’s she explored a mode of expression drawing tending more toward abstraction, without ever really leaving her figurative universe.




As commissions came in, she was gradually led to design ornamental projects in the field of architecture, notably for the international exhibition of arts and techniques of 1937. From the early 50’s to the second half of the 70’s, with the adoption of the 1% architectural law by the french government, Guidette Carbonell was called upon by several major architects of reconstruction.  She created large-scale mural, decorations, sculptures, fountains and even furniture for the construction of several educational establishments. She worked less frequently in the private sector, carrying out a few smaller scale projects for herself, friends, or commissions.





In the 60’s, Guidette Carbonnell found ceramic too tedious, and sought new creative supports that would bring her closer to her primary vocation as a painter. Having long been interested in mural art, it was at the end of this decade that she definitely abandoned ceramics, to devote herself fully to her architectural projects and tapestry.

Guidette Carbonell instinctively appropriated this medium, replacing flat paint surfaces with sections of fabric. Her technique consists of cutting and assembling pieces of textile, then gluing, sewing and topstitching them on a fleece hanging. Her compositions originate in large cycles of small drawings in pastels, chalk, crayons and felt-tip pens on small sheets of paper or cardboard, usually colored. These may serve as the basis for preparatory drawings on tracing paper, which are then transposed into tapestries.



Passionate about birds since her youth, she first developed avian themes in her tapestries : Owls and Harpies.


Her owls are a recurring theme in her series of ceramic and glazed cement Idoles, and were transposed into tapestries in the late 60’s. Depicted alone or in pairs, the artist title her whimsical nocturnal birds according to their expression and character.  She stopped producing this type of tapestry subject at the end of the 70’s. These birds of prey reccured regularly in her large cycles of drawings, particularly in the 70’s, and continued to appear well into the 90’s.



Harpies are a theme she has been developing in her ceramic work since the late 50’s, notably through her series of Idoles. Mythological creatures and real-life South American birds of prey, they are represented by Guidette Carbonell as hieratic wading birds, hypnotically bemused and crowned with a mandorla, whose appearance seems both influenced by Romanesque and primitive arts. This series continued to be produced as tapestries in the form of  Harpies or Oiseaux-fleurs, which became increasingly colorful until the end of the 80’s.





Bibliography : F. Bodet, K. Lacquemant, « Guidette Carbonell », Norma editions, Paris, 2007