Xavier de Callataÿ

The monkeys have personalities, the elephants
strength and wisdom, the people...problems.

Xavier de Callataÿ
September 11, 1989

The Symphony for Christine is composed in four movements which Xavier de
Callataÿ devoted six years to completion. The four movements consist of eleven large paintings nearly 8 feet high ( close to 3 meters ) and are 62 feet ( close to 19 meters ) in total length. The symphony is inspired by the sudden suicide death of his dear friend Christine, who devoted herself entirely to help the poor in New Orleans

Symphony - Desire

In Desire ( 1st movement ) Xavier de Callataÿ painted Christine playing the flute, and the same couple exploring as their desire mingles with affection set against the racing French glacier stream of his teen years.


Symphony - Caring

In Caring ( 2nd movement ) Xavier painted the empathetic spirit of Christine. She is tending to protect the nursing mother, enveloped by the sunset light as a flock of flamingoes are flying off. The flapping wings of the huge birds symbolize Christine’s compassionate efforts to try to lift the poor out of their swamp.


Symphony - Death

Next in Death ( 3rd movement) Xavier depicted the burial scene illuminated by the head lights of a jeep covered by crazy moneys. In this case Xavier’s use of monkeys symbolizes the ills of society and he even included himself as the driver of the jeep.

Again we see the artist and caring friends lowering Christine’s body, going down a spiral staircase, next to the “source” of water in a French mountain town. On the right side there are huge elephants cradling a young elephant standing next to the artist as a little boy. Xavier’s childhood memories of his beloved grandmother Alice taking him to the circus to see the elephants, have now become the expression of elephants as the ideal family of caring, strength and wisdom. 


Symphony -  Love

Originally Xavier painted Love ( the 4th movement ) in the very beginning to celebrate his newly found love. In his dreams he saw Christine guiding the united lovers toward the light. Love outlives death and increases our awareness to care for all forms of life.