LSU was visited by Blaise Ducos, the Chief Curator of 17th and 18th century Dutch and Flemish paintings at the Musée du Louvre in Paris last week. 

On his visit, he gave multiple free lectures and completed a reading from his own book of poetry. He was named the Paula G. Manship Endowed Lecturer at the College of Art and Design, which allowed him to give his lecture titled “Bodies as the end? The Inquiry into the Human Form in Rembrandt’s Time.”

For his visit to the LSU Museum of Art, he was part of the Distinguished Visiting Scholar Series that was created in 2021 by LSU MOA to invite experts and artists annually to share their knowledge to the public. Ducos’s arrival was orchestrated with the help of LSU professor Darius Spieth. 

Ducos trained as a philosopher at the University of Paris I Pantheon-Sorbonne, then he continued his studies in art history at the École Du Louvre. Eventually, he completed a Ph.D. on Flemish painter Frans Pourbus the Younger at the University of Picardie Jules Verne in Amiens in 2008.

His current job at the Louvre is how he crossed paths with Spieth.

“I believe it was in 2018, I hope I’m not mistaken, that we met first in a roundtable at the Louvre where Professor Spieth was delivering brilliantly a paper and I was taking part at the roundtable," Ducos said. "We met and had a dinner with quite a number of people and then a conversation started and here I am. He’s been very kind and supportive.” 

Ducos has a long list of achievements in art history. He has written and edited many exhibitions from Frans Post, a Dutch painter from the 1600s. Along with George Keyes and Lloyd DeWitt, Ducos curated the Rembrandt et la figure du Christ (Rembrandt and the Face of Jesus) exhibition.  

“It’s an old love affair with the field. I had a fantastic teacher at the École de Louvre that introduced me to the field, and I just never left,” Ducos said.

At the Louvre, most of its collection is 17th-century Flemish and Dutch art. For Ducos, art is an act of storytelling and allows the viewer to ponder over the past and the present.

(From left to right) Blaise Ducos, Kelly Ward, Vrixton Phillips, Darius Spieth

"Studying art history is not only studying the elite or a few great names like Rembrandt," Ducos said. "It's about studying people and the way they lived, the way they felt. It's about discovering a continent that’s been engulfed. We call that period a century, but for me, it is a very remote place that has been engulfed and we need to dig it out.”

Ducos also performed a poetry reading of his book while at LSU. His writing is organized into folios, individual pieces of paper, where each folio intertwines with loops, remembrances and foreshadowing across volumes. The goal of this structure was to create a microcosm that alludes to the bigger picture.

“This is also an approach I have when studying art. Delving into minuity in order to unlock wider stories.” Ducos said “I think that if you are a hypersensitive person and at the same time, structured, then you can strive to not only be a historian, but also a writer. If you are possessed by some sort of necessity to express yourself, then it'll all come out.” 

For Ducos, this passion for art and poetry is deeply embedded in his early life.

Dr. Blaise Ducos Lecturing

“I'm the son of bookshelves. I grew up amongst bookshelves," Ducos said. "My mother had a gigantic library at home, and my first remembrances were about lifting books that I could not read. They were art books full of images and, maybe because I'm a visual person, I was attracted to that.” 

This trip marks Ducos’s first visit to Louisiana and LSU. Experiencing new cultures and meeting new people is one of the driving factors of Ducos's visit. 

“It’s not about me or even what I say in those lectures, even though it's of course very important, it’s about meeting new people and being aware we're not far from each other and we live in the same world. It’s about discovery and remembrance,” Ducos said.

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