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MALREAUXAndré Malraux (3 November 1901 – 23 November 1976), was a man for all seasons: novelist, art theorist Resistance leader, War hero, and Minister for Cultural Affairs. Malraux’s novel La Condition Humaine (Man’s Fate) (1933) won the Prix Goncourt. He was appointed by President Charles de Gaulle as Minister of Information (1945–1946) and subsequently as France’s first Minister of Cultural Affairs during de Gaulle’s presidency (1959–1969).

At the beginning of the Second World War, Malraux joined the French Army. He was captured in 1940 during the Battle of France but escaped and later joined the French Resistance. In 1944, he was captured by the Gestapo. He later commanded the tank unit Brigade Alsace-Lorraine in defense of Strasbourg and in the attack on Stuttgart.

After the war, Malraux was awarded the Médaille de la Résistance and the Croix de guerre. The British awarded him the Distinguished Service Order, for his work with British liaison officers in Corrèze, Dordogne and Lot. After Dordogne was liberated, Malraux led a battalion of former resistance fighters to Alsace-Lorraine, where they fought alongside the First Army.

Malraux was appointed Minister of State in De Gaulle’s 1958–1959 government, and France’s first Minister of Cultural Affairs. He served De Gaulle during his entire presidency (1959–1969). His presence as a man of culture and sophistication was world-wide.

Below is a picture at the unveiling when the Mona Lisa was brought to be shown at the White House.

Malreaux Mona Lisa at the White House


As stated in ArtInfo,

Malraux’s longest-running project was the “Imaginary Museum” (“le Musee imaginaire”), an archive that he began in 1947. His “museum without walls,” as he described it, was a montage of photographs of art from all around the globe and throughout history, stretching from Roman sculptures to Impressionist painting.

As described by Derek Allen, Malraux’s concept of the musée imag­inaire is that,

Given that the breadth and diversity of today’s world of art far surpasses the capacities of any single art museum, or even two or three, and that many of the objects are in any case not moveable, the musée imaginaire is our imaginary coll­ection of all the works, both inside and outside art mus­eums, that we today regard as important works of art.

Inspired by Malraux’s concept, the artist Dennis Adams created the project “Malraux’s Shoes.”  According tho ArtInfo:

Adams reconstructed a scene from an iconic photo of Malraux in which he stands over an array of images in his collection, pondering which to include in a book. Adams animates the scene, drawing his camera over the photos aligned on the floor. An actor plays the part of Malraux, pacing while carrying out a monologue that betrays a certain overwhelming anxiety of art and art history.

Check out the video below.

In the history of art, the “New Media,” may well have begun some 30,000 years ago with the Chauvet cave paintings. Each creation and use of the New Media has led to the ever-increasing availibility of art to individuals over the world. Malraux used the New Media of his time to do just that. His concept and content of the musée imaginaire was prodigious and brilliant. The same must be said of the Google Art Project today – it’s concept and content are prodigious and brilliant. Recent  advances and use of the New Media have lead to the Google Art Project, GLAM wiki,  and Artstor furthering mankinds’ quest for the most  universal means of communication.


  1. Reblogged this on strikethrough blog.

  2. Hi whitherthebook, Thank you for including the quote from my book. There is, of course, much more to Malraux’s thinking about art than the musée imaginaire but it is nevertheless important (though regrettably often misunderstood and reduced to the simple proposition that works of art can be reproduced photographically – which we hardly needed Malraux to tell us).

  3. […] via E-MUSEUMS: ANDRE MALRAUX’S “MUSEUM WITHOUT WALLS.” | Whither the Book. […]

  4. […] Just as Andre Malraux, before the internet,  envisioned  a museum without walls, “E-MUSEUMS: ANDRE MALRAUX’S “MUSEUM WITHOUT WALLS,” The Google Art Project brought that concept to reality in the internet […]

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