It seems ever so strange to farewell someone from the tarot world. We all know of our own mortality, as well as the loss of various other contributors to the world, yet somehow when such a event arives, even when more or less anticipated, it remains an unexpected shock. Jean-Claude’s passing is certainly a dear loss to not only his family and friends, but also to the broader world of tarot.
Past Newsletters that deal with Jean-Claude Flornoy’s work include:
Jean-Claude has published various booklets on tarot, including:
His 2007 book Le pèlerinage des bateleurs (available only in French, isbn 9782914820080) combines his love of the Noblet deck with his views on tarot in general. He has also, of course, and for many of us, principally, produced a variety of hand-made trump-only reproductions including the Dodal and the Noblet (as well as a non-tarot deck), and subsequently expanded these two key tarot decks to their full 78-card sets, printed using a commercial press.
Jean-Claude has also produced ‘oversized’ tarot images exhibited in various places, as well as ‘life-sized’ metal-based Conver images many of which can now be found around commercial venues in Ste Suzanne.
Here are a few reflections on Jean-Claude’s recent passing.
We met in 2005 at Roxanne and Jean-Claude’s house in Western France. It was a time to get to know each other, tell of our respective careers (I was 50, Jean-Claude 56) and exchange views on the tarot. The atmosphere of this short visit combined an air of Woodstock with a rural context very different from my native Southern France.
The charming old house in its verdant summer landscape of slate roofs was also a big change from the heat-scorched grasses and clay tile-covered houses familiar around Marseille.
Aware that Time does fly, we agreed to stay in touch, as a shared passion can only cement a friendship as long as egos are kept in check.
We saw each other again the following year in my part of the country when Jean-Claude came to give a Tarot workshop in the Panier quarter of Marseille’s old town. Remember Terry Gaster…
There he introduced me to another Tarot enthusiast: Wilfried Houdouin. This was a chance to again share projects and ideas.
After that, time and distance did separate us, but mails and the telephone worked pretty well, especially after having met in person.
Then I learned from Roxanne that his Thread of Life would soon break…The next day, about two weeks ago, I called Jean-Claude. It was the day before he left the hospital in Le Mans to be moved closer to where he lived.
We spoke with much lucidity – there was no longer time for nonsense or pretenses.
We said both adieu (à Dieu?) and good-bye.
He was alert, and said he was ready (in the sense of being prepared).
He knew the Passage would be soon.
I had never thought of it as being so near …and he so close to me, as well.
Thanks for everything, and see you later, old mate!!
And now I’m crying….a dumb thing to write, eh?
Jean-Claude and Roxanne, I embrace you both.
Yves le Marseillais
The world has no quarrel
with the tarot images
but with what it is said about them
Don’t change the images
change the words
To be re-found
the tarot had to be found
Thanks Jean-Claude Flornoy
Thanks my friend
in memory of Jean-Claude Flornoy (Paris 1950 – Sainte-Suzanne 2011), who taught me that you don’t make images, but images make you.
I recall when I first received through the mail those hand-made decks, stencilled by what means I could then only guess. Jean-Claude and Roxanne were to some years later invite us into their home (this was back in 2005). It was a hot summer, and we slept in the loft where Jean-Claude also had some of his work neatly organised.
One of the details I recall is that we opened the window to let the night air in – unbeknownst to us also letting in a small bat that proceeded to keep us company throughout that night.
The next day Jean-Claude also opened a package in which he had commissioned an artist to render a card (I cannot recall which) directly onto a piece of stretched parchment. It seemed that hours were spent on conversation and quiet contemplaction around this single item, not only on the details therein depicted, but also on why parchment would indeed make such a poor medium for a deck.
The walks around the village, the local castle, the river…
… and the anticipation of meeting again in what would have been but a few months.
You’re missed, mon frère.
Jean-Claude at work and at rest…
and some of his larger works…