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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Graciela Rodo Boulanger

Graciela Rodo Boulanger was born in 1935 in La Paz, Bolivia, and grew up in Oruro, a city 200 kilometers south of La Paz that has for years attracted cultures from around the world because of its wealth of tin. When Boulanger was five, she stumbled upon the beginning of her journey to become an artist. While she was waiting at the dentist's office for her sister, her pet rabbit slipped from her hands and ran into another room. Chasing after it, she entered the other room and was immediately hypnotized by what she saw. While a copper vase, white flowers, and golden fruit layed arranged on a table, a canvas with an amazingly accurate reproduction of the composition stood nearby. Moments later, the dentist's wife walked in and suggested that she would sketch Boulanger. Boulanger left the dentist's office that day with the sketch in her hand knowing that she would be a painter.

Soon Boulanger was fully immersed in the fine arts. Her father enrolled her in a drawing course, while her mother, who was a pianist herself, signed her up for piano lessons with a teacher. At the same time, Boulanger also took up ballet with her sister. At the age of 11, she studied with Lithuanian artist Juan Rimsa. (Coincidentally, her first watercolor there was a still life of a copper vase, white flowers, and golden fruit.) At age 13, she went on to study at the National School of Fine Arts, but soon left, deciding that it was unnecessary. Later, in great desire to perfect the arts, she also dropped ballet in order to concentrate on music and painting.

In 1952, her father with good fortune won a lottery and offered Boulanger the chance to study in Madrid, Spain. However, on her way to Madrid, she made stops in other cities - one of them being Vienna. Having fallen in love with the city, she ended up staying. During her stay here, she realized more and more how difficult it would be to be both a professional pianist and artist, and was deciding to give up painting. However, as she passed a paint shop one day, she quickly realized that her greater love was truly for painting. Soon she enrolled in the Kunstakademie there and was known to be its best student.

For long, Boulanger had been magically captured by the stories she has heard about Paris, and hoped to visit the city one day. At 18, she managed to sell several of her pieces in Zurich. This provided her with enough money to finally visit this "City of Light" and home of the Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower. Only when Boulanger had barely enough money to return home did she decide to leave Paris. Although it was the place of joyful times spent with her family, Bolivia did not provide her with many opportunities to improve her skills in art. She was soon to leave for Buenos Aires. However, it was during this stay at home that she befriended a young Frenchman by the name of Claude Boulanger.

In 1957, Boulanger's hopeful stay in Buenos Aires turned into many great hardships and caused her to make the most difficult decision of her life. After being forced to sell her piano due to uncooperative apartment arrangements, she had finally given up the idea of becoming a professional concert pianist. However, she never gave up her love for music; she acknowledges, "Everything I had learned about music was extremely useful to me in painting: harmony, composition, melodic line, couterpoint, embellishments and contrast."

After staying at home for some time because of this devastation, she returned to Buenos Aires again in 1958. One day she left some of her paintings in an art gallery there for its owner to review. The Minister of Culture and famous writer Ernesto Sabato happened to visit that day and loved her work so much that he offered to sponsor an exhibition for her. Later in 1960, Boulanger went on to hold an exhibition in Argentina and win a prize at the First Latin American Xylography Competition.

During the 1960s, Boulanger also kept much in contact with Claude Boulanger who often encouraged her fulfill her dreams of returning to Paris. She took his advice. She left for Paris and soon prospered enough with an exhibition in 1961 at the Modern Art Centre in Zurich that she was finally able to settle in Paris. In 1962, Claude and Graciela Boulanger were married, and later had two daughters Karine and Sandra.

In the late 1960s, Boulanger met Abe Lublin, an art director from the U. S. He first led her to many successful sales in New York and opened many opportunities for her worldwide. In the 1980s, Claude passed away and Lublin's firm went into liquidation. However, Boulanger still persisted in her artwork. She found a new representative, Edmund Newman, who helped her set up exhibitions in galleries in many North American cities including Vancouver, Aspen, Washington D. C., Chicago, San Francisco, and Atlanta. Today her work is known worldwide and can also be seen in Paris and La Paz.


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