My life resembles, from beginning to end, my encounter with Marie Laure. It is November of 1966. I am nineteen years old, but I look like sixteen. I am walking behind my mother in the large hall of the Palais Galliera, where the Pen Club meets each year so that authors can autograph their books. My mother is looking for André Maurois, who made a reference to me in an article in Nouvelles littéraires. Suddenly, the crowd hinders us from moving forwards. A lady sitting at a table behind several copies of her book makes a sign for me to come closer. “Madame, I’m sorry but I can’t buy it. I get ten Francs of pocket money per week. — Who said anything about buying it? It’s a gift. There are things in here which might interest you. What’s your name?” Without taking her eyes of me, she picks up a copy of Journal d’un peintre and writes upon the title page: “To François-Marie Banier whose face will bring him happiness.” I rush to catch up with my mother, who tells me off beneath her pink capeline: “Well done, bravo! Do you know who that is? Marie-Laure de Noailles. She is not received by the Princess de Broglie. And neither am I.” We often laughed, Marie Laure and I at that maternal reprimand, until one day at home my copy of Journal d’un peintre fell off a shelf onto my head. I quickly grabbed it without opening it and rushed over to the Place des États-Unis proudly showing it to Marie Laure. Unfortunately, I hadn’t cut open the pages. In a stroke she crosses out her dedication and replaces it with these words: “Pages who do not cut open pages will have neither a page nor a young madam.”
This text was written by François-Marie Banier, published on the occasion of the release of the exhibition catalogue of his solo exhibition which takes place at Villa Noailles in Hyères from 15 October 2020 to 29 January 2021.