Feature image: Roel Wijnants
Raymond Isidore didn’t plan on becoming an artist—let alone a sculptor who would go on to cover nearly every surface of his small home with glittering mosaics. But after a fateful stroll in 1938, when a shiny piece of broken crockery caught his eye, Isidore devoted the majority of the remainder of his life on the outskirts of Chartres, France, to the creation of one of the world’s most unique homes—an ecstatic expression of the untrained artist’s bursting imagination.
Isidore was born into a humble family in Chartres in 1900, and as a young man landed a position as the caretaker of a local cemetery. By all accounts, he led a provincial life; he married a woman roughly 10 years his senior and bought a humble plot of land not far from the famed Chartres Cathedral. There, Isidore built what began as a simple cottage, but soon transformed into his masterwork, known as La Maison Picassiette, which still stands and is accessible to the public today.
With the passion and discerning eye of a new collector, Isidore began his project by pocketing all of the broken bits of pottery and glass he could find. His sources were the fields and trash repositories around his home; he believed that “what people disdain and reject in quarries and dumps can still serve,” he once explained of his growing cache of discards.
At first, he had no objective other than to keep the eye-catching shards. “I picked them up without any specific intention, for their colors and their flicker,” he later recalled. “I sorted the good, [discarded] the bad. I piled them up in a corner of my garden.” ……. Read on