“I dream of ageless objects, and stirring images of an indefinite time engraved in my memory, and I contemplate in wonderment beauty emanating from spirituality in art.
A world of mysteries, symbols, legends and myths haunts and defies me. Was I not born in Georgia, ancient kingdom of Colchis, later Iberia, land of the Golden Fleece, and ill-fated love of Jason and Medea where, for having created Man and stolen the sacred fire, From-Theuth of the Scytians, the Prometheus of the Greeks, was chained by Zeus to Kazbek's summit!
Delivered from my past, it is in Paris that I can recall at last the lost civilizations that inspired me, and express my emotion before the magic traces that reveal identical symbols from Sumer to Assur, from the Scythians to the Hittites, the Etrucans to the Celts and Iberians, from the Achemenids to the Sassanians, the Avars to the Abbassidians, from Fayyum to Petra, Phrygia to Lydia, Urartu to Luristan…
The populations migrate and their cultures intertwine to better fascinate me. Drawing from art's sources, I look for the universal, and express myself with rare materials which forever delight us.
Faithful witness of our most distant past, metal defies space and time, and reaches us millenniums later, intact and wrapped in mystery. Noble and enduring, have not gold and silver been dedicated from time immemorial to objects of the table, the Treasury of the Cult, the Divine, and Sacred!
The same is true of stone of which I like the quintessence, the colors, the light, and the harmonious name: lapis-lazuli, obsidian, sodalite, rock crystal, hawk's eye, labradorite, calcedony, carnelian, jade, amphibolite… Ravishing and unreal, you are infinitely timeless, and I like to wed you with the metal I hammer.
Then comes the hand, the irreplaceable, indispensable and inimitable handiwork. Since technique there is, let it be obvious and quickly forgotten. There is no modernity in this craftsmanship, and my techniques are archaic. I forge myself anvils and peens as needed for the piece and shapes I wish to create. Then I work on the material, without any preliminary drawing, guided solely by the metal's specificity and the stone's mystery.
Because I want each object to be unique! Singularity gives the object its marvelous dimension, eclipsing its purpose to leave only the delight of the eyes, of the voluptuous touch. It is also what compels invention and imagination. It is creativity that counts, and I create today a world of shapes and fiction by giving free range to my enthusiasm.
Unique objects, testimony of my love and journey on this earth: ciboriums, rhytons, amphoras, hanaps, ewers whose names I like to sing; fantasy menagerie, bulls metamorphosed in stags, gazelles made equidies, magical characters from another world, I forge you during the day and visit you at night, in my dreams.”
Goudji was born in 1941 in a small Georgian town of Borjomi in a family of a physician and a lecturer of natural sciences; later the family moved to Batoumi on the Black sea coast.
At the age of 17 Goudji enters the Academy of Fine Arts in Tbilissi where he studies painting, sculpture, graphic arts and art history under talented professors, he has learned drawing under Vassily Shoukhayev, a Russian artist of l'Ecole de Paris who lived in France in the twentieth and thirtieth. Goudji devours books on history and theory of art and soon enough is offered a job at a workshop where he is modeling toys and ornaments out of samak - an alloy of zinc, tin and lead - for further industrial production. His competence and creativity are duly appreciated: at the age of 23 he joins the USSR Artists Union thus becoming the youngest member of the prestigious body. Now he is very much in demand, he is getting orders for designing commemorative medals and postal stamps. It all gives him ample opportunities to travel, to spend time in the famous "homes of creativity" run by the Artists' Union for its members, to read as much as he wants to widen his scope of art knowledge. `
After his father's death in 1967 Goudji returns to Georgia. There he makes friends with two old artisans who from morning to nightfall are engaged in manufacturing identical copper trays and kettles to be sold at the bazaar. Goudji watches them at work then little by little starts lending them a hand. This is a unique chance to master a technique kept alive for long ages, transmitted only through apprenticeship. In a couple of months Goudji acquires the skills of copper soldering, riveting, forging, chiseling.
Having come again to Moscow Goudji meets Katherine Barsacq, daughter of the famous director of Paris’s Theatre de l'Atelier André Barsacq and grand niece of Leon Bakst, decorator of the Russian Ballet of Diaghilev, working in the Cultural section of the French Embassy in the USSR. In spite of innumerable obstacles they get married in 1969 and apply for a French visa for Goudji. It immediately turns Goudji into a pariah in the eyes of the Soviet state and society. He is left without any job or orders to wait for five long years for the permission to leave the country. He used the time to discover for himself and learn from artisans of Oussolye (in the north-east of Russia's European part) the delicate technique of finift, a combination of copper and vitriol which is either spread in layer upon layer or put into cells formed by copper mesh.
Thanks to respected efforts of President of France Georges Pompidou Goudji finally gets his exit visa. On January 31,1974 Goudji and Katherine arrive in France. They settle in Paris where the 33 years old artist can freely realize his creativity. On his own he masters the art of working precious metals evolving his instruments as the need arises. In the Soviet Union he was melting a couple of his grandfather's silver teaspoons to fashion some brooches decorated with tiny sea pebbles...
In 1986 the French artist Goudji has become chevalier and in 1996 Commander of the Order of Arts and Literature. In 1998, Goudji receives the title of "Maître d'Art" by the French Minister of Culture.Read more
2009||Member of the Catholic Academy of France, Arts and Li department
2008||Chevalier of the Legion of Honor
Officer of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
2001||Chevalier in the National Order of Merit
The name and work of Goudji, sculptor and distinguished gold and silversmith in France and around the world, needs no introduction. One remembers the baptismal fount used by the Pope to celebrate the baptisms in August 1997, in Paris.
Everyone has heard about the silver altar of Chartres Cathedral.
Goudji has been working for the Catholic Church of France for the last fifteen years. Following his creation of the portable baptismal fount, the ewer, and the Easter candelabra for Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, created and realised because of François Mathey, Chief Curator of the Musée des Arts Décoratifs of Paris, Goudji creates a chalice which will be offered by François Mathey to the Ronchamp Chapel as he was born there and instigated the project of Le Corbusier.
He was commissioned for the new arrangement of the sanctuary in Chartres Cathedral. Working with Bishop Jacques Perrier from 1992 to 1996, he designed 25 pieces, now officially listed as part of the French National Heritage: the main altar and alter pieces, cross, chalice, paten, cruets; the gospel binding, the seats of the Bishop and his assistants, two episcopal signs, the Basilica Insignia; the basilical pulpit and eucharistic dove, the censer and incense vase, as well as a second cross.
In 1995, François Garnier, Bishop of Luçon, commissioned the new main altar of his cathedral and the reliquary cross, the Bishop's seat, pulpit, chalice and paten.
Between 1994 and 1996, Goudji also designed two staffs for the Benedictine abbots, Dom Jorrot of Saint-Maurice de Clervaux and Dom Courau of Notre-Dame of Triors, pectoral crosses for the Bishops of Chartres and Luçon, as well as a reliquary pectoral cross for Canon François Legaux, Rector of Chartres Cathedral. In 1998, he created the reliquaries of two beatified religious Cisterciens for the Abbey of Sept-Fons.
1999 was a year of ample liturgical work for Goudji: on the occasion of Padre Pio's beatification, he created for the Papal Sacristy, the processional cross and its base, two candelabras for the acolytes, as well as the reliquary offered to the Pope by the Capucin order.
Goudji also designed a pastoral ring for the Capucin prelates. Shortly before Christmas, Monsignor Séguy, Bishop of Autun, consecrated the new altar of the church of Saint-Philibert's Abbey at Tournus, and blessed the choir furniture, pulpit, Easter candelabra, sacred vases, and Saint Philibert's reliquary, all designed by Goudji at the request of the parishioners of Tournus. Finally, to celebrate the solemn opening of the Holy Door of Saint-Peter's Basilica, Monsignor Marini, Master of Pontifical Ceremonies, commissioned Goudji for the design of the Jubilee door knocker and the precious clasp of the Holy Father's liturgical mantle. During the Holy Year Goudji creates a cultual object for the the church of the Trinité de Vendôme : a dove, symbol of the Holy Spirit which has been blessed by Mgr de Germiny, Bishop of Blois, on June 18th, 2000.
Goudji fashions and hammers the gold and silver with his own hands, inlaying the metal with semi-precious and precious stones. More than ornaments, the gems confer upon the pieces a symbolic and sacred character. What strikes us in Goudji's art is the mystical dimension of his work, and the beauty emanating from it.
Bernard Berthod, Curator of the Fourvière Museum in Lyon, FranceRead more
"A mystery of love caught in still metal
…A pure spirit grows under a shell of stones."
It seems to me that Gérard de Nerval's verses, which also legitimate man's reverence for the animal world, could serve as a caption for Goudji's masterpieces…
In revealing the sacred, the artist is literally and authentically "hierophant", high priest or mediator, linking man to what he believes he has risen above, and to what transcends him.
Goudji is this hierophant, the distant heir of the Dactyls and Orpheus.
Robert Turcan, Member of the French Institute
Goudji's work in Chartres
Goudji works for the Pope
Consecration of the altar at Chartres
Consecration of the altar at Luçon, Homily, May 21, 1995
Following World Youth Days in Paris