Armand and his mother in Grasse

Armand and his mother in Grasse, 1933.

ARMAN? What is founding you?

Arman was born in Nice in 1928. We do not know what ruled to his birth. Often we do not know, there is no text. For Arman, it is as often.
 

His mother, Marie Marguerite Jacquet was from Roanne’s countryside and arrived in Nice with her sister. She’s supposed to have run away. She finds a job at a pastry baker.
 

His father, Francisco Antonio Fernandez, a native of Algeria, falls for her when going to buy his bread.
 

A misalliance was the reason Arman’s paternal grandparents left Algeria. His grandmother, an aristocrat, had married a commoner. From their union four children will be born: one called Armando dies of illness in his youth, Antonio, the second will take care of his two sisters, somewhat mentally ill, for all of his life.
 

It is because of the first child's death and the health problems of the others that the rich family comes back from Algeria to Nice. Marguerite, a child of poor peasant parents makes a mirror to the original model: misalliance. Antonio hides his affair with Marguerite.
 

After Arman’s birth, she lives alone with him in Nice, then in a hotel in Grasse where Antonio gives them clandestine visits for five years. During this fifth year, Antonio falls ill for three weeks and is unable to give news, Marguerite gets very worried. It is after this event that their relationship is formalised to Antonio’s parents.

 

Arman lived with his mother in a very close relationship. He draws, a lot.

At the hotel he shares his drawings with staff and guests who admire his dexterity. And also the stories he tells about his drawings. He will describe this period as a lost paradise.  

Armand and Micheline

Armand and Micheline at a flower parade in Nice, c. 1935.

Armand is 5 years old

He is five years old when he met his paternal grandparents, it is an educational shock: his grandmother used to order him to stand up straight in his chair at the table without moving because the chair would make noise. Alone with his mother, he was the king. After the marriage of his parents, he meets the obligations: hence he looses paradise... His father plays the cello and paints. His mother takes care of their apartment adjoining that of Micheline's parents, his childhood friend.

Micheline’s mother, Georgette, exchanges from one kitchen window to the other the good recipees. The two mothers will become close friends; this is the only known friendship bound of Marguerite apart the one with her sister Louise.

Arman is five years old when he meets Micheline who is only towards two. They play together in the square and the age difference does not prevent their complicity to develop without fault, as Arman will then go to the same school as hers in order to not be separated (the legend of the school only attended by girls is part of the reconstructions that occur when one repeats the story that becomes a fairy tale ... In fact, the POISAT girl school was mixed but Arman only saw the girls, already!)

He is 10 years old when Micheline’s family moves to Paris. Micheline's parents are going to divorce.  
Portrait of Armand at 20 years

Armand at 20 years old, 1948.

Armand is 20 years old

Micheline is back in Nice with her mother, penniless after the separation. Georgette is seamstress and she creates a clothing workshop in her apartment.

Arman renamed his parents:  Fatheur holds the furniture store "Au Foyer" and Pachatte remains housewife at their home. He considers his father has a weak character and he is very complicit with his mother who is smiling, pleasant, and seems subdued to the relationship with Fatheur.  She opens herself in her relationship with Arman: they are very close in their common passion for animals; chickens, rabbits, spiders, it’s as it comes. The laughter of Pachatte remains the memory that qualifies her the best.

 

Their complicity in this link to animals will allow them both to perpetuate their privileged and exclusive relationship of the origins. Fatheur remains excluded: a figure slightly behind.  

Pachatte and her grand-children

Pachatte and her three grand-children at Le Méou, c. 1960.

The Pachatte-Fatheur couple

The Pachatte-Fatheur couple will grow and age in a climate of guilt: in 1956 during a trip to Austria, they have a car accident where Pachatte, as passenger, is seriously injured. Fatheur refuses the emergency care proposed there and repatriates her to Nice. It is following that lost time that she will lose a part of her leg bone leading to a permanent disability (she has one leg shorter than the other). Fatheur will always wait on her hand and foot. Although surprisingly, after buying their land in Vence called "The Méou" for their retirement (the property which will become Le Bidonville),
Pachatte had asked for a balcony and a fire-place when they built their house.  She will only obtain both many years later when they enlarge the house with the construction of an added room…

If Fatheur’s guiltiness may look like Pachatte was in a rather dominant position in their couple, in reality, it may not be the case.
The crucible of this complicity between Arman and his mother is perpetuated in this blur in the authority places. Pachatte remains a mother / friend / accomplice of always (even for Arman’s mischiefs). She will be a companion of game (including in those arguable “games” when he uses firecrackers and grenades in his post-war activist period...)

In his adolescence, Pachatte will say about her son "- Pay attention to your chicks, I let my rooster free!".

Her wish was a marriage with Micheline for who Arman will make a proper offer with a bouquet of red roses, an offer she will decline. While he is keeping a relationship with a “small hand” in the sewing workshop, Marianne, older than him, he meets Eliane, who is also doing sewing work as a feeding job.

 

Musician, she wants to become a composer. Pachatte never accepted the relationship with Eliane, which will be written in the repetition of the original secret:
That of a hidden story with a child.