Gyp (1849-1932) was a radical, creative, opinionated, innovative, controversial writer, novelist, artist, political activist woman of aristocracy in turn-of-the-century Paris. Her formal name was Sibylle Aimée Marie-Antoinette Gabrielle de Riquetti de Mirabeau, Comtesse de Martel de Janville, but for a variety of reasons mostly having to do with the facts that she was female and a countess, wrote under the name of Gyp. She assumed a pseudonym when she began writing because it s not acceptable for her to write as either an aristocrat or a woman. “Gyp” became her writer persona, and when she began to illustrate her work, she assumed a persona as”Bob.” Petit Bob was the precocious 8 year old lad so popular in her early novels, who served-up her most satirical and biting political dishes.
The world she was born into was an admixture of enlightenment and corruption. France was growing her modern legs – music, theatre, art and social life was sophisticated and exciting, but politics and business struggled with old paradigms. Gyp lived fully in both worlds, loving and hating both. Her penchant – what she addressed most in her writing and paintings – was the disfunctionality and hypocrisy of society, politics, business and the ideologies that engined them. Those who were the object of her ridicule understood that they were under attack. Gyp was direct, plain and simple.
For fifty years, from 1879 on, Gyp and her family lived in Neuilly on the Seine in the outskirts of Paris. Neuilly was an enclave for writers, artists and thinkers. On Sundays for most of those years. Gyp invited guests to her home for lunch at noon and an evening dinner. Her “salon” was frequented by the likes of Antole France, Edgar Degas, François Coppée or Henri Becque. Gyp hosted the event in unconventional dress, from her favorite overstuffed chair, and talked constantly, telling stories of the theatre, art, politics or general clubhouse gossip. Roger usually spent the day in the back garden for shooting practice. Degas seldom spoke, but being single, enjoyed the food.
Gyp lived until her 82nd year and died at Neuilly in 1932. Her legacy remains colorful as can be imagined, a wonderful admixture that is the stuff of genius.
The exhibition is opened until 16th of September 2012.