Behold the Mighty Fantastical Cathedrals and Delirious Megalopolises of French Street Sweeper and Self-Taught Artist Marcel Storr

Thirty-eight years after his death, self-taught artist Marcel Storr, a French street sweeper who was unknown in his lifetime and didn’t conceive of his fantastical renderings of churches and cityscapes as art, is getting his first U.S. gallery show.

In “Marcel Storr: Reimagining Paris,” at Andrew Edlin in Chelsea through October 25, special projection light bulbs showcase the artist’s intricate pencil drawings of church spires, ziggurat-like forms, and urban vistas, which he covered with ink in otherworldly hues.

“Combining Late Gothic detail with contemporary scale, 12th-century ornamentation with 1930s foliate decoration, medieval and psychedelic colors, organic and crystalline forms, Storr’s imposing high-rises fully embrace the heroics (if not the rationalist aesthetics of Modernism,” Anne Doran writes in the exhibition catalogue.

Storr believed that Paris would one day be destroyed in a nuclear attack and that the President of the United States would need his drawings to rebuild the French capital.

Marcel Storr

I went to see Alternative Guide to the Universe at Hayward Gallery yesterday, and for me the most striking work was by a Parisian street sweeper named Marcel Storr, who happened to be deaf and mute. The room with his ornate drawings was dark and they were lit from behind so that the detail of the colored pencil could shine through.

He dreamed of this fantastical architecture during a time when Paris skyscrapers were first appearing, and his devotional attention to the work is incredible.

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des dessins de marcel storr, balayeur sourd et fou

Quand Paris sera détruit par la bombe atomique, le Président des Etats-Unis viendra me voir et on pourra tout reconstruire avec mes dessins.

un diptyque de 10 mètres de haut

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