One Of a Kind (painted and drawn) Postcards collected by Georges Wague
The tale of the Cornet menu collection is framed by the story of two particular collectors. The one to whom we owe the existence of the Cornet menu collection is a Frenchman named Georges Wague. Georges Wague was a French mime who, as Pierrot, taught the French audiences the bittersweet joys of desire and denial, and the agonies of lost innocence and self-delusion. Yet in his role as collector, Wague’s desires were hardly to be denied. His 63-year membership in The Cornet Society, from 1902 to 1965, gave him ample access to the artists and their arts. His bounty was a collection of some 400 lithograph menus, and 167 hand-painted postcards. Whereas the menus are done by Cornet artists alone, the postcards’ creators, though represented by at least 46 Cornet artists, also included such renowned artists as Louis Aston Knight, Jacques Villon, and Moise Kisling. The postcard collection also distinguishes itself in that every card, with the exception of the first few, is dedicated to Pierrot. The postcards also represent a lovely encapsulation of the various art styles and movements from the late 19thth century to mid 20th century.
These two collections were separated and reunited in the loving embrace of me, Jason Smith, between 1996 and 2000. Although from a different time and country, I as an American, share with Wague both a love of Pierrot and a passion for Pierrot postcards. Indeed it is probably no coincidence that Pierrot, the wan figure whose spirit ebbs and flows with the tensions of longing and loss, is our central unifying character in this lost-and-found tale of Wague’s collections. The events were set in motion upon Wague’s death in 1962 when Alice Tully, one of America’s greatest friends of the French arts and one of Wague’s former students of diction and gesture, came into possession of Wague’s card and menu collection. Upon Alice Tully’s passing in 1993, the collection was divided and separated, the lithograph menus of the Cornet Society to Jim Rua of Albany, New York and the one-of-a kind painted postcards to Jason Smith of Tokyo, Japan.