No. 01

No. 08

No. 21

No. 31

No. 36

No. 44

No. 47

No. 49

No. 54

No. 66

No. 67

No. 91

100e - an exhibition celebrating 100 editions of the Tour de France.

The 100e is an allegorical monograph. It’s ‘e’ represents ‘edition’. But also ‘epic’. One hundred epic paragraphs, to a story of human endeavour.

“I love the face that it’s so epic,” is where 100e began. Such a phrase covers the race itself, as well as the landscape through which its drama is played out. Here the mortal component of the Tour presents many universal ideas. Chief of which is the human condition, and the journey it takes. From Prologue to Paris; the sacrifice; the heroics; both in falling and rising; winning and losing; no other sporting event provides such drama.

This magnum opus comprises twelve plates; each individually capturing a phase of the Tour's history - montaging the places, faces, moments, phrases, language that form its overall chronology. Beneath the competition itself, lies a framework built around three creative icons - John Milton (1608–1674), Francisco Goya (1746–1828), and Salvador Dali (1904–1989).

For context, Milton’s epic poem Paradise Lost (originally published in 1667) provides the fundamental themes: Descent and ascent; Light and dark; Immortality; Conflict; The fall; Restoration; Chaos; Rebellious angels; the anti-hero; temptation; vanity; self-deification; the pursuit of Paradise. Critically, it also introduces the theological concept of ‘felix culpa’ - or ‘fortunate fall’ - which suggests evils occur in order to bring about a greater good. Structurally, Milton’s ‘poem in twelve books’ provides the schema, from which the twelve titles that comprise 100e are extracted:

Of darkness do we dread?
Now to th’ ascent of that steep savage hill
Chase anguish and doubt and fear and sorrow and pain
Demy-Gods on golden seats
Majestic though in ruin
Our torments also may in length of time become our elements
The Race of Time
Till Pride and worse Ambition threw me down
Ministers of Vengeance and Pursuit
The verdurous wall of paradise
Of Patience and Heroic Martyrdom

In 1974, artist Salvador Dali further explored the books of Milton’s Paradise Lost, culminating in Paradis Perdu  - a set of ten prints, published by the L’Automobile Club de France.

Finally, 100e revisists Francisco Goya’s Los Caprichos - eighty aquatint prints created by the Spanish artist; published as an album in 1799. Los Caprichos functioned as a satirical critique of the society in which he lived. Here, American art historian David Rosand suggests “Goya turned the inventive powers of the artist back upon his audience with indicting moral force”, simultaneously “Pressing the limits of poetic license”. This ‘caricature’ portrayal maps how 100e is illustrated - the Tour de France, with all its many facets, reworked with the fidelity of a Lichenstein Pop Art cartoon; both as a study, and a critique. In addition, the photo-montaged image of each 100e plate faithfully embodies the working method of the Dadaist ‘monteurs’ (mechanics), who incorporated actual press photography into their artwork. From L’Auto to L’Équipe, 100e extracts its core content from the very press pages circulated throughout the Tour’s epic history.

This exhibition carries a unique foreword, written by Graeme Fife, author of The Beautiful Machine -
Imaging the Century, which stands alone as its own work of art.

View the twelve 100e artworks in detail HERE

Purchase details
Archival pigment print on Hahnmühle German Etching 310 gsm.

Size 1: 20 x 16 inches / 50 x 40 cm
A limited edition of 20 in this size, each signed and numbered on the front.
Print price: £595

Size 2: 38 x 16 inches / 95 x 76 cm
A limited edition of 5 in this size, each signed and numbered on the front.
Print price: £1,950

For buying enquiries - shop@james-straffon.co.uk

All artwork, text and images © James Straffon 2024.