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99 portraits

of Queneau

99 portraits is a drawing project by Femke van der Wijk, inspired by Exercises in style by writer Raymond Queneau

about this project

99 portraits is my visual response to Raymond Queneau’s Exercises in Style, a book in which the author retells the same short story in 99 different ways. I read the book, but what exactly had I read? For with each variation, the notion of a single story faded ever more into the background. The real story existed in the variations as a whole.

I wondered if I could do something similar in pictorial form. Thus began my series of drawn “exercises”, based on a portrait of the author. These exercises in style became exercises not only in style, but in drawing and looking. There are certainly more than 99 ways of making a face.


Original portrait
Photo of Queneau shot by Man Ray in 1925, and which I stumbled upon online in a catalogue for an auction.

Name of the group co-founded by Queneau in 1960. Oulipo, short for Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, translates as a “workshop of potential literature”. The Oulipians imposed constraints on themselves and their writing in order to explore the possibilities of literature.

On instagram
Of course! Right here:

© 2020 – 2021 Femke van der Wijk

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