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Touggourt (Algeria): The stele of André Citroën

Adorning on the Place de la Liberté in the city center of Touggourt in southern Algeria, the stele dedicated to André Citroën is still there to honor his first crossing of the Sahara from Touggourt to Timbuktu in Mali during the Raid Citroën: "The cruise of the sands" from December 1922 to January 1923. This crossing paved the way for the Black Cruise in 1924 and then for the Yellow Cruise of 1931, in Asia. This first 28-day raid follows a route passing through Touggourt, Ouargla, In Salah, Hoggar, Tin-Zaouaten, Timbuktu and back in Kegresse tracked vehicles. A crossing of the Sahara that we will tell you about in a future article.

This stele was built by the Citroën Company in 1929 and is part of the project to celebrate the hundredth anniversary of French colonization in Algeria, which will be celebrated in 1930. It is made by the sculptor Henri Bouchard with the collaboration of the architect Wybo. Henri Bouchard previously produced works in three formats, commissioned by André Citroën: the small medal, the small-format sculpture and the large monument. The commemorative medal is issued one month after the return from the crossing. The artist comments on his work: “My medal for the Raid Citroën is finished, it was not until the third composition that it more or less satisfied me. I am now working on works of art intended to be offered to the organizer and to the heads of mission”. The Bedouin, a statuette holding a dromedary in one hand and a half-track in the other, was made for André Citroën; she looks towards the car, towards the future. The Berber Watchman was offered to Louis Audouin-Dubreuil; the plaster model is exhibited at the Bouchard museum. The undated statuette of Antiné a is offered to Haardt, head of the mission. If it is inspired by the very famous heroine of Pierre Benoit's novel, it is indeed Africa that is evoked. "This transversal composition can be understood as an allegory of the crossing of the Sahara and the car that Antinéa lets go, despite her desire to hold it back, is the one that first arrived on the other side of this arid desert", specifies the artist. Finally, a Citroën stele measuring 3 m by 2.80 m was installed in Paris at the Citroën factories, then donated to the museum of Saint Jean-d'Angély, the birthplace of Audouin-Dubreuil. It now adorns the city's public garden.


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