Julien is a sickly painter, out of step, enthralled by death. His canvases are shreds of his tortured soul. He has the feeling of having being put aside, of being a nobody, starving as an ill-fated artist who would rather buy tubes of paint than to something to eat.
Ten years later though, he meets Sigismonde La Barre, the young, trendy owner of a Contemporary Art gallery, who accompanies him to exhibitions of his paintings.
The dazzling success he soon comes to enjoy has, however, been built on the trashy side of his paintings. Buyers only see an opportunity for financial speculation and are not interested in who produced the paintings and why.
Fame turns him into an object to grab – everything he loathes. Trapped in his psychoses, he becomes prey to others, enough to destroy him mentally