On Thursday, April 20, at 19 h, in the Humanities and Social Sciences Park of the University of Barcelona (Can Jaumandreu, c. Perú, 52), Martí Ruiz will give the presentation of The sound of sculptures of Bernard and François Baschet, by François Baschet.
The event will count with the participation of the Vice-Rector for Arts, Culture and Heritage of the UB, Salvador García Fortes; the Dean of the Faculty of Fine Arts, M. Dolors Tapias; the Director of the Barcelona Museum of Music, Jaume Ayats, and Martí Ruiz, Editor of the book and Coordinator of the Baschet Sound Sculpture Workshop of the UB. The presentation will also offer a visit to the Baschet sound sculptures in the Park.
In this book, regarded as an essential work in the history of art, François Baschet narrates the experience of the Baschet brothers as pioneers in research and the creation of musical instruments and sound sculptures combining art and science, sculpture and music. The edition by Martí Ruiz, expert on the work by the Baschet brothers, shares François Baschet’s concept of acoustics –a method to understand functional relations between shape, materials, action and sound-, which resulted in the invention of hundreds of instruments and sound sculptures in all shapes and sounds, that are now spread worldwide.
In 2009, François Baschet founded a new work place together with researchers from the Faculty of Fine Arts of the UB. As a result, there have been several international initiatives coordinated between Barcelona and Paris, such as the analytical and media cataloguing in the work corpus, localization and restoration of existing works –in Mexico in collaboration with the National Autonomous University of Mexico and in Japan with the universities of Kyoto and Tokyo- and the study of the development of new forms. In 2015, the Humanities and Social Sciences Park of the UB, based in the former factory “Can Jaumandreu”, in the district of Poblenou, held the exhibition “Escultura Sonora Baschet”, organized by the Baschet Sound Sculpture UB Workshop, which included eighteen unique pieces combining sculpture and music. These pieces belonged to different time periods, ranging from the sixties to the 21th century.
The book published by Editions and Publications of the University of Barcelona is a tri-lingual edition which will have digital version (eBook) soon. It has three volumes: the first two were written in 1980, ordered by John Grayson, from the Aesthetics Research Center in Vancouver, and the third, a memoir series in which François Baschet shows his view on life and the world of art, was published in 1989. After ten years, Trevor Taylor published a first edition in English by Mary Helen (Caroline) Lane and Candace Lyons. The re-edition of these three books in English by Editions and Publications of the UB includes unpublished extracts, as well as the French original “Organologie des structures sonores Baschet” and a translation of all texts into Spanish, by Joachim de Nys. The compilation, listing and systematization work made by the corpus has made this publication possible.
Pioneers with a new concept in sculpture
In the early fifties, Bernard and François Baschet wondered about how much sense playing music from the 20th century with instruments from the 19th century actually had. With this idea in mind, they made research on the necessary materials and processes to create a new series of instruments that were modern and representatives for the current society and which could offer new ways of expression as well. They created numerous sound sculptures with a surprising image, made of steel and aluminum, and amplified with big metal cone-shaped irons, easy to play even for the non-experts.
In 1954, the Baschet brothers met Jacques Lasry (pianist and composer) and Yvonne Lasry (organist), and they formed the group Structures Sonores Lasry-Baschet. They offered their first concerts in 1955, with great success. In 1960, Jean Cocteau ordered them to create the soundtrack for the film Testament of Orpheus. They later went on tour and started appearing on television shows such as The Ed Sullivan Show. In 1965 they presented an exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) of New York, which got one of the sculptures.
François Baschet (Paris, 1920 – Barcelona, 2014) was part of the French Resistance during the Second World War and he later collaborated with the French secret intelligence agencies in their search for Nazi fugitives in Latin America. When he was back in Paris, in 1952, he studied sculpture and acted in cabarets. He started studying acoustics with his brother Bernard, who loved electroacoustic music, and they created an analytical and creation method covering research and innovation in applied acoustics, creation of instruments and interactive sculptures, the educational work, and the dissemination of their knowledge through several publications.