Fautrier’s career was upended in 1943 by his arrest for participating in the Resistance movement. Once released, he took refuge in a psychiatric hospital in the suburbs of Paris, where his friend, writer Jean Paulhan, arranged for him to have a studio space. There he created his Hostages (Otages) series, inspired by the tormenting experience of hearing Nazi troops abuse and execute prisoners in the forest surrounding the asylum. Comprising anonymous, featureless heads and abstracted floating torsos, Fautrier’s hostages were described by the writer and politician André Malraux as “the most beautiful monument to the dead of the Second World War.”
Gallery label from Soldier, Spectre, Shaman: The Figure and the Second World War, October 24, 2015-March 20, 2016.