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cn~vivs n~uuvi~ivv

Eloge Du Maquillage
In Praise Of Cosmetics
.6
X!.
!L ST UN CHANSN, tcllcmcnt trivialc ct incptc
quon nc pcut gurc la citcr dans un travail qui a quclqucs
prtcntions au sricux, mais qui traduit lort bicn, cn sylc
dc vaudcvillisc, lcshtiquc dcs gcns qui nc pcnscnt
pas. La nature embellit la beaut! !l cs prsumablc quc
lc potc, sil avait pu parlcr cn lranais, aurait dit: La
simplicit embellit la beaut! cc qui quivaut a ccttc vrit,
dun gcnrc tout a lait inattcndu: Lc rien cmbcllit cc qui
cs.
La plupart dcs crrcurs rclativcs au bcau naisscnt dc la
laussc conccption du dixhuitimc siclc rclativc a la
moralc. La naturc lut prisc dans cc tcmpsla commc
basc, sourcc ct typc dc tout bicn ct dc tout bcau possiblcs.
La ngation du pch origincl nc lut pas pour pcu dc
chosc dans lavcuglcmcnt gnral dc ccttc poquc. Si
toutclois nous conscntons a cn rlrcr simplcmcnt au
lait visiblc, a lcxpricncc dc tous lcs gcs ct a la Gazette
des Tribunaux, nous vcrrons quc la naturc ncnscignc ricn,
ou prcsquc ricn, ccsadirc qucllc contraint lhommc a
dormir, a boirc, a mangcr, ct a sc garantir, tant bicn quc
mal, contrc lcs hosilits dc latmosphrc. Ccs cllc aussi
qui poussc lhommc a tucr son scmblablc, a lc mangcr,
a lc squcsrcr, a lc torturcr, car, sitt quc nous sortons
dc lordrc dcs nccssits ct dcs bcsoins pour cntrcr dans
cclui du luxc ct dcs plaisirs, nous voyons quc la naturc
nc pcut conscillcr quc lc crimc. Ccs ccttc inlailliblc
naturc qui a cr lc parricidc ct lanthropophagic, ct millc
autrcs abominations quc la pudcur ct la dlicatcssc nous
cmpcchcnt dc nommcr. Ccs la philosophic (jc parlc dc
la bonnc), ccs la rcligion qui nous ordonnc dc nourrir
dcs parcnts pauvrcs ct inrmcs. La naturc (qui ncs pas
autrc chosc quc la voix dc notrc intrct) nous commandc
dc lcs assommcr. Passcz cn rcvuc, analyscz tout cc qui
cs naturcl, toutcs lcs acions ct lcs dsirs du pur hommc
naturcl, vous nc trouvcrcz ricn quc darcux. Tout cc
qui cs bcau ct noblc cs lc rsultat dc la raison ct du
calcul. Lc crimc, dont lanimal humain a puis lc got
dans lc vcntrc dc sa mrc, cs origincllcmcnt naturcl. La
vcrtu, au contrairc, cs articielle, surnaturcllc, puisquil
a lallu, dans tous lcs tcmps ct chcz toutcs lcs nations,
dcs dicux ct dcs prophtcs pour lcnscigncr a lhumanit
animalisc, ct quc lhommc, seul, ct t impuissant a la
dcouvrir. Lc mal sc lait sans cort, naturellement, par
latalit, lc bicn cs toujours lc produit dun art. Tout
cc quc jc dis dc la naturc commc mauvaisc conscillrc
cn matirc dc moralc, ct dc la raison commc vritablc
rdcmptricc ct rlormatricc, pcut ctrc transport dans
lordrc du bcau. Jc suis ainsi conduit a rcgardcr la parurc
commc un dcs signcs dc la noblcssc primitivc dc lmc
humainc. Lcs raccs quc notrc civilisation, conlusc ct
pcrvcrtic, traitc volonticrs dc sauvagcs, avcc un orgucil
ct unc latuit tout a lait risiblcs, comprcnncnt, aussi
bicn quc lcnlant, la hautc spiritualit dc la toilcttc. Lc
sauvagc ct lc baby tmoigncnt, par lcur aspiration navc
vcrs lc brillant, vcrs lcs plumagcs bariols, lcs tocs
chatoyantcs, vcrs la majcs supcrlativc dcs lormcs
articicllcs, dc lcur dgot pour lc rcl, ct prouvcnt ainsi,
a lcur insu, limmatrialit dc lcur mc. Malhcur a cclui
qui, commc Louis X\ (qui lut non lc produit dunc vraic
civilisation, mais dunc rcurrcncc dc barbaric) poussc la
dpravation jusqua nc plus gotcr quc la simple nature!
La modc doit donc ctrc considrc commc un symptmc
du got dc lidal surnagcant dans lc ccrvcau humain
audcssus dc tout cc quc la vic naturcllc y accumulc
dc grossicr, dc tcrrcsrc ct dimmondc, commc unc
dlormation sublimc dc la naturc, ou plutt commc un
cssai pcrmancnt ct succcssil dc rlormation dc la naturc.
Aussi aton scnsmcnt lait obscrvcr (sans cn dcouvrir
la raison) quc toutcs lcs modcs sont charmantcs, ccs
adirc rclativcmcnt charmantcs, chacunc tant un
cort nouvcau, plus ou moins hcurcux, vcrs lc bcau,
unc approximation quclconquc dun idal dont lc dsir
titillc sans ccssc lcsprit humain non satislait. Mais lcs
modcs nc doivcnt pas ctrc, si lon vcut bicn lcs gotcr,
considrcs commc choscs mortcs, autant vaudrait
admircr lcs dlroqucs suspcnducs, lchcs ct incrtcs
commc la pcau dc saint 8arthlcmy, dans larmoirc
dun lripicr. !l laut sc lcs gurcr vitaliscs, vivics par
lcs bcllcs lcmmcs qui lcs portrcnt. Sculcmcnt ainsi on
cn comprcndra lc scns ct lcsprit. Si donc laphorismc:
Toutes les modes sont charmantes, vous choquc commc trop
absolu, ditcs, ct vous scrcz sr dc nc pas vous trompcr:
Toutcs lurcnt lgitimcmcnt charmantcs.
La lcmmc cs bicn dans son droit, ct mcmc cllc accomplit
unc cspcc dc dcvoir cn sappliquant a paraitrc magiquc
ct surnaturcllc, il laut qucllc tonnc, qucllc charmc,
idolc, cllc doit sc dorcr pour ctrc adorc. llc doit donc
cmpruntcr a tous lcs arts lcs moycns dc slcvcr audcssus
dc la naturc pour micux subjugucr lcs curs ct lrappcr
lcs csprits. !l importc lort pcu quc la rusc ct larticc
soicnt connus dc tous, si lc succs cn cs ccrtain ct lcct
toujours irrsisiblc. Ccs dans ccs considrations quc
lartisc philosophc trouvcra lacilcmcnt la lgitimation
dc toutcs lcs pratiqucs cmploycs dans tous lcs tcmps
par lcs lcmmcs pour consolidcr ct diviniscr, pour
ainsi dirc, lcur lragilc bcaut. Lnumration cn scrait
innombrablc, mais, pour nous rcsrcindrc a cc quc notrc
tcmps appcllc vulgaircmcnt maquillage, qui nc voit quc
lusagc dc la poudrc dc riz, si niaiscmcnt anathmatis
par lcs philosophcs candidcs, a pour but ct pour rsultat
dc lairc disparaitrc du tcint toutcs lcs tachcs quc la
naturc y a outragcuscmcnt scmcs, ct dc crcr unc unit
absraitc dans lc grain ct la coulcur dc la pcau, laqucllc
unit, commc ccllc produitc par lc maillot, rapprochc
immdiatcmcnt lctrc humain dc la satuc, ccsa dirc
dun ctrc divin ct supricur : Quant au noir articicl qui
ccrnc lil ct au rougc qui marquc la partic supricurc dc
la jouc, bicn quc lusagc cn soit tir du mcmc principc,
du bcsoin dc surpasscr la naturc, lc rsultat cs lait pour
satislairc a un bcsoin tout oppos. Lc rougc ct lc noir
rcprscntcnt la vic, unc vic surnaturcllc ct cxccssivc, cc
cadrc noir rcnd lc rcgard plus prolond ct plus singulicr,
donnc a lil unc apparcncc plus dcidc dc lcnctrc
ouvcrtc sur linni, lc rougc, qui cnammc la pommcttc,
augmcntc cncorc la clart dc la pruncllc ct ajoutc a
un bcau visagc lminin la passion mysricusc dc la
prctrcssc.
Ainsi, si jc suis bicn compris, la pcinturc du visagc nc
doit pas ctrc cmploycs dans lc but vulgairc, inavouablc,
dimitcr la bcllc naturc, ct dc rivaliscr avcc la jcuncssc.
n a daillcurs obscrv quc larticc ncmbcllissait
pas la laidcur ct nc pouvait scrvir quc la bcaut. Qui
oscrait assigncr a lart la loncion srilc dimitcr la
naturc: Lc maquillagc na pas a sc cachcr, a vitcr dc sc
laisscr dcvincr, il pcut, au contrairc, stalcr, sinon avcc
accation, au moins avcc unc cspcc dc candcur.
Jc pcrmcts volonticrs a ccuxla quc lcur lourdc gravit
cmpcchc dc chcrchcr lc bcau jusquc dans scs plus
minuticuscs manilcsations, dc rirc dc mcs rcxions ct
dcn accuscr la purilc solcnnit, lcur jugcmcnt ausrc
na ricn qui mc touchc, jc mc contcntcrai dcn appclcr
auprs dcs vritablcs artiscs, ainsi quc dcs lcmmcs qui
ont rcu cn naissant unc tinccllc dc cc lcu sacr dont
cllcs voudraicnt sillumincr tout cntircs.
X!.
! RMM8R a song, so worthlcss and silly that it
sccms hardly propcr to quotc lrom it in a work which has
somc prctcnsions to scriousncss, but which ncvcrthclcss
cxprcsscs vcry wcll, in its vaudeville manncr, thc acshctic
crccd ol pcoplc who do not think. Naturc cmbcllishcs
8cauty, it runs. !t is ol coursc to bc prcsumcd that,
had hc known how to writc in Frcnch, thc poct, would
rathcr havc said Simplicity cmbcllishcs 8cauty, which is
cquivalcnt to thc lollowing sartling ncw truism: Nothing
cmbcllishcs something.
Tc majority ol crrors in thc cld ol acshctics spring
lrom thc cightccnth ccnturys lalsc prcmisc in thc cld ol
cthics. At that timc Naturc was takcn as ground, sourcc
and typc ol all possiblc Good and 8cauty. Tc ncgation ol
original sin playcd no small part in thc gcncral blindncss
ol that pcriod. 8ut il wc arc prcparcd to rclcr simply
to thc lacs, which arc manilcs to thc cxpcricncc ol all
agcs no lcss than to thc rcadcrs ol thc Law Rcports, wc
shall scc that Naturc tcachcs us nothing, or pracically
nothing. ! admit that shc compels man to slccp, to cat,
to drink, and to arm himscll as wcll as hc may agains
thc inclcmcncics ol thc wcathcr: but it is shc too who
incitcs man to murdcr his brothcr, to cat him, to lock
him up and to torturc him, lor no sooncr do wc takc
lcavc ol thc domain ol nccds and ncccssitics to cntcr
that ol plcasurcs and luxury than wc scc that Naturc can
counscl nothing but crimc. !t is this inlalliblc Mothcr
Naturc who has crcatcd patricidc and cannibalism, and
a thousand othcr abominations that both shamc and
modcsy prcvcnt us lrom naming. n thc othcr hand it
is philosophy (! spcak ol good philosophy) and rcligion
which command us to look altcr our parcnts whcn thcy
arc poor and inrm. Naturc, bcing nonc othcr than thc
voicc ol our own scllintcrcs, would havc us slaughtcr
thcm. ! ask you to rcvicw and scrutinizc whatcvcr is
naturalall thc acions and dcsircs ol thc purcly natural
man: you will nd nothing but lrightlulncss. vcrything
bcautilul and noblc is thc rcsult ol rcason and calculation:
Crimc, ol which thc human animal has lcarncd thc tasc
in his mothcrs womb, is natural by origin. \irtuc, on thc
othcr hand, is articial, supcrnatural, sincc at all timcs
and in all placcs gods and prophcts havc bccn nccdcd to
tcach it to animalizcd humanity, man bcing powcrlcss
to discovcr it by himscll. vil happcns without cort,
naturally, latally, Good is always thc produc ol somc art.
All that ! am saying about Naturc as a bad counscllor
in moral mattcrs, and about Rcason as truc rcdccmcr
and rclormcr, can bc applicd to thc rcalm ol 8cauty. !
am thus lcd to rcgard cxtcrnal ncry as onc ol thc signs
ol thc primitivc nobility ol thc human soul. Tosc raccs
which our conluscd and pcrvcrtcd civilization is plcascd
to trcat as savagc, with an altogcthcr ludicrous pridc and
complaccncy, undcrsand, jus as thc child undcrsands,
thc lolty spiritual signicancc ol thc toilct. !n thcir nal
adoration ol what is brilliantmanycolourcd lcathcrs,
iridcsccnt labrics, thc incomparablc majcsy ol articial
lormsthc baby and thc savagc bcar witncss to thcir
disgus ol thc rcal, and thus givc prool, without knowing
it, ol thc immatcriality ol thcir soul. Voc to him who,
likc Louis X\ (thc produc not ol a truc civilization but
ol a rccrudcsccncc ol barbarism), carrics his dcgcncracy
to thc point ol no longcr having a tasc lor anything but
naturc unadorncd.
Fashion should thus bc considcrcd as a symptom ol
thc tasc lor thc idcal which oats on thc surlacc ol all
thc crudc, tcrrcsrial and loathsomc bricabrac that
thc natural lilc accumulatcs in thc human brain: as a
sublimc dclormation ol Naturc, or rathcr a pcrmancnt
and rcpcatcd attcmpt at hcr reformation. And so it
has bccn scnsibly pointcd out (though thc rcason has
not bccn discovcrcd) that cvcry lashion is charming,
rclativcly spcaking, cach onc bcing a ncw and morc or
lcss happy cort in thc dirccion ol 8cauty, somc kind
ol approximation to an idcal lor which thc rcslcss
human mind lccls a consant, titillating hungcr. 8ut il
onc wants to apprcciatc thcm propcrly, lashions should
ncvcr bc considcrcd as dcad things, you might jus as
wcll admirc thc tattcrcd old rags hung up, as slack and
lilclcss as thc skin ol St. 8artholomcw, in an oldclothcs
dcalcrs cupboard. Rathcr thcy should bc thought ol as
vitalizcd and animatcd by thc bcautilul womcn who
worc thcm. nly in this way can thcir scnsc and mcaning
Vc know that whcn shc wishcd to avoid rccciving thc king, Mmc
ubarry madc a point ol putting on rougc. !t was quitc cnough, it
was hcr way ol closing thc door. !t was in lact by bcautilying hcrscll
that shc uscd to lrightcn away hcr royal disciplc ol naturc.
bc undcrsood. !l thcrclorc thc aphorism All lashions arc
charming upscts you as bcing too absolutc, say, il you
prclcr, All wcrc oncc jusiably charming. You can bc
surc ol bcing right.
Voman is quitc within hcr rights, indccd shc is cvcn
accomplishing a kind ol duty, whcn shc dcvotcs
hcrscll to appcaring magical and supcrnatural, shc has
to asonish and charm us, as an idol, shc is obligcd to
adorn hcrscll in ordcr to bc adorcd. Tus shc has to lay
all thc arts undcr contribution lor thc mcans ol lilting
hcrscll abovc Naturc, thc bcttcr to conqucr hcarts and
rivct attcntion. !t mattcrs but littlc that thc articc and
trickcry arc known to all, so long as thcir succcss is
assurcd and thcir ccc always irrcsisiblc. 8y rcccing
in this way thc philosophcrartis will nd it casy to
jusily all thc praciccs adoptcd by womcn at all timcs
to consolidatc and as it wcrc to makc divinc thcir lragilc
bcauty. To cnumcratc thcm would bc an cndlcss task:
but to connc oursclvcs to what today is vulgarly callcd
maquillage, anyonc can scc that thc usc ol riccpowdcr,
so supidly anathcmatizcd by our Arcadian philosophcrs,
is succcsslully dcsigncd to rid thc complcxion ol thosc
blcmishcs that Naturc has outragcously srcwn thcrc,
and thus to crcatc an absrac unity in thc colour and
tcxturc ol thc skin, a unity, which, likc that produccd
by thc tights ol a danccr, immcdiatcly approximatcs thc
human bcing to thc satuc, that is to somcthing supcrior
and divinc. As lor thc articial black with which thc cyc
is outlincd, and thc rougc with which thc uppcr part ol
thc chcck is paintcd, although thcir usc dcrivcs lrom thc
samc principlc, thc nccd to surpass Naturc, thc rcsult is
calculatcd to satisly an absolutcly oppositc nccd. Rcd and
black rcprcscnt lilc, a supcrnatural and cxccssivc lilc: its
black lramc rcndcrs thc glancc morc pcnctrating and
individual, and givcs thc cyc a morc dccisivc appcarancc
ol a window opcn upon thc innitc, and thc rougc which
scts rc to thc chcckbonc only gocs to incrcasc thc
brightncss ol thc pupil and adds to thc lacc ol a bcautilul
Voman thc myscrious passion ol thc pricscss.
Tus, il you will undcrsand mc aright, laccpainting
should not bc uscd with thc vulgar, unavowablc objcc
ol imitating lair Naturc and ol cntcring into compctition
with youth. !t has morcovcr bccn rcmarkcd that articc
cannot lcnd charm to uglincss and can only scrvc bcauty.
Vho would darc to assign to art thc scrilc luncion ol
imitating Naturc: Maquillagc has no nccd to hidc itscll
or to shrink lrom bcing suspcccd, on thc contrary, lct
it display itscll, at lcas il it docs so with lrankncss and
honcsy.
! am pcrlccly happy lor thosc whosc owlish gravity
prcvcnts thcm lrom sccking 8cauty in its mos minutc
manilcsations to laugh at thcsc rcccions ol minc
and to accusc thcm ol a childish scllimportancc, thcir
auscrc vcrdic lcavcs mc quitc unmovcd, ! contcnt
myscll with appcaling to truc artiss as Vcll as to thosc
Vomcn thcmsclvcs who, having rcccivcd at birth a spark
ol that sacrcd amc, would tcnd it so that thcir wholc
bcings wcrc on rc with it.
xccrpt lrom L P!NTR LA \! MRN /
TH PA!NTR F MRN L!F, .6
CAMOUFLAGEOFLARGEINSTALLATIONS
First published in 1939
Reprint on the 75
th
anniversay in 2014
by K. Verlag / Press
on the occasion of the exhibition
CounterIntelligence
a project by Charles Stankievech
Justina M. Barnicke Gallery
Hart House
University of Toronto
January 23 March 16, 2014
Editor + Design: Charles Stankievech
Scans: Heidelberg Nexscan F4200
Type: Caslon, Glypha & ZXX by Sang Mun

Digital Edition ver.1.1
ISBN: 978-0-9877949-8-7
A special limited edition of 10 books (with 2 artist editions) was printed in Berlin,
including the camouage swatches inserted as three colour plates hand painted
using cosmetics by Charles Stankievech.
Gratitude: Richard Mosse, Anna-Sophie Springer, Stephanie Comilang, Pip Day
Alana Leprich, Rebecca Gimmi, Christopher Rgimbal & Barbara Fischer.
K. VERLAG|PRESS
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12043 Berlin
Germany
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