“contemporary art”

Naomi Beckwith, a curator to watch

At barely 41 years old, Naomi Beckwith is an African-American curator who is taking the other side of the Atlantic by storm thanks to her refreshing, all-embracing vision of today’s art. In Chicago, an interview with a woman whose social awareness underlines her inspiring take on her profession.   When the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA) Chicago recently celebrated its 50th year, Naomi Beckwith was part of the team that organised its three-part “We are Here” birthday exhibition. A jury member of the 2015 Venice Biennale, this young curator at the MCA Chicago since 2011 is the inaugural winner of the VIA Art Fund Curatorial Fellowship grant, aimed at promoting promising artistic projects. And let’s not forget that in March 2017, she chaired the first curatorial leadership summit at New York’s Armory Show. An opportunity for AMA to shed light on her current role at the MCA and to discover her singular perspective on curatorship.   Naomi Beckwith, what did you do before becoming curator at the MCA Chicago? I was in New York, at the Studio Museum in Harlem. I managed the artist-residency programme and I worked on cultural projects relating to African-American identity, aesthetic minorities, but also current practices on a global scale.   The MCA Chicago is considered to be one of the most influential museums in the United States, with an extensive “historic” collection of contemporary art, ever since its creation in 1967.  What were your goals when you arrived there in 2011? I was coming home so to speak, because I was born and raised in the Windy City! I wanted to develop solo shows with established artists, but above all, to set up exhibitions on young emerging artists who have never been shown. But my current exhibition, “Howardena Pindell: What remains to be...

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The Modern, the Classic and the Indian

In Paris this spring, tribute is being paid to Gérard Garouste by three exhibitions. At the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature, at the Beaux-Arts, and at the Galerie Templon… The chosen theme, “Zeugma”, creates a bridge between the collective and the individual, myth and its commentary. Find out more… In the 1980s, Alain Pacadis, the punk dandy behind the Palace nightclub described Gérard Garouste as “the artist who paints his wife and his dog”. The artist hadn’t yet evolved into the giant he would become – a top-notch status that was confirmed in December 2017 when the Académie des Beaux-Arts voted him in as an academy member, succeeding Georges Mathieu. In the 1980s, the young artist was just emerging from a few shady twists and turns of existence, and was painting to survive, possibly less for financial reasons than in an urgent response to life. Over 30 years later, things haven’t changed much. It is still Élizabeth who we find as Garouste’s Diana at the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature. This time, Garouste himself plays the role of Actaeon. The theme of Diana and Actaeon is one that has cropped up on many a canvas, notably handled by Titian, Luca Giordano, François Boucher and Cavaliere d’Arpino. All variations on a myth recounted in Ovid’s Metamorphoses, in which Actaeon surprises the goddess Diana while she is taking a bath in the company of her attendants. Failing to keep herself from the man’s sight, she blushes and throws water in his face, transforming him into a stag, whose fate is to be hunted and devoured by dogs. Gérard Garouste has taken a few liberties with the myth. His Actaeon is a wild zoophile who violates the animals before he is transformed and dies in their...

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Through the wormhole

Journalist, art critic and former head editor of AMA, Clément Thibault is also an exhibition curator, currently presenting “Wormholes”… In other words, a two-part exhibition, jointly curated with Mathieu Weiler. Showing in Paris, at the Galerie Laure Roynette and at La Ruche.   After the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR, our ideological system believed itself, for a time, to be victorious. The fact that some thinkers including Francis Fukuyama conceived that History had reached its end is a symptom of this stance. Of course, events would continue to occur, but the world’s march towards liberal and democratic consensus was underway and nothing more could stop it. It was the end of the dialectic of History, survived by a single immortal system. The new millennium on the horizon could only become a continuum. Nearly 30 years later, things have changed a great deal. Democratic systems are quivering, trembling, troubled by internal or external threats. Shaken by doubts that either produce inwardness (as incarnated by the virulent debate between nationalists and globalists) or openness. Critical openness, a questioning of values. Post-modernism had already started this task of re-examining History and art history, but with regard to modernism alone. Today, all hegemonic foundations of our culture are being challenged, some of them centuries old. Foundations of a culture that is Western in its focus, namely historical, capitalistic in its economy, bourgeois in its social character, white in terms of race, masculine in terms of its dominant sex. The artists at this double-exhibition, “Wormholes” (the first part at the Galerie Laure Roynette, the second at La Ruche), operate in this context. First things first: a wormhole, in physics, is a hypothetical object that links two distinct regions of space-time, a sort of shortcut between two dimensions. Poetically,...

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Olafur Eliasson, beyond appearances

His works can be seen in Geneva, but also Los Angeles, and in the near future, Beijing, before Munich for a summer festival, then Massachusetts. But what makes Olafur Eliasson tick? An interview in Geneva with a widely shown artist who nevertheless remains discreet.   In Geneva, Olafur Eliasson took care to greet every journalist present at the launch of his exhibition “Objets définés par l’activité” (Objects defined by activity) designed by Laurence Dreyfus, curator and adviser at the Espace Muraille. This private mansion, founded by collectors Caroline and Éric Freymond, is an ideal setting for Eliasson’s human-sized works. With restrained and sober elegance, the artist goes over the key points in his professional life: the environment, light, his projects, his proclivity for social contact…   What is the subject of your new exhibition “Objects defined by activity” at the Espace Muraille? This rather intimate exhibition presents sixteen pieces, some of which are preparatory works – and not models – for future, larger projects. Others were produced for the occasion. My works bear ties with science and allude, through geometric systems, light, movement, and flows, to our way of perceiving objects, space, our environment, and others.   Indeed, many pieces play on optical illusions and the way we see things, such as The We Mirror, Colour Window or Day and Night Lava… These works translate our skill for grasping the world, and the way our senses can help us to change it. These are, in some way, “instruments” that exacerbate our way of perceiving the world. Let’s take, for example, The We mirror. This three-dimensional dodecagon plays with its image in the mirror, superposed over its material reality… But does this reflection really express what we see? The way we see things isn’t always the one that we trust. Is...

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Art Cologne, promoting the art market’s avantgarde

From 19 to 22 April, the 52nd edition of Art Cologne will be on. This year, the doyen of Germany’s fairs is presenting 200 galleries from 31 countries, divided into four major sections. Around 50,000 visitors are awaited at this great rendezvous in modern and contemporary art.   Set up in 1967 by gallerists Hein Stünke and Rudolf Zwirner, Art Cologne is now one of Europe’s oldest art fairs. For over half a century, the event has been supporting the renown of players on the international market. All along, one watchword has remained its driving force: revealing, discovering and buying art. And steered by Daniel Hug since 2008, Art Cologne looks like it’s on its way up again these days. Following a brief low patch in the 2000s, the organisers, in the last few editions, have reverted to a policy that makes sense. By favouring quality over quantity, they have chosen a strategy that seems to be bearing fruit. The number of exhibitors has been cut from 300 to 200. The fair’s layout has also been revamped, and now occupies a smaller space. By offering a new vision, Daniel Hug has succeeded in bringing prestige back to an event that had lost some of its shine – a case of less is more, one might say. This 52nd edition of Art Cologne only confirms the merits of the chosen direction, both for professionals and the public. Just one small setback: its slot in the yearly calendar. In 2017, the organisers scheduled the fair at the same time as the Gallery Weekend in Berlin. A decision that caused a turmoil right up to the banks of the Spree. This year, Daniel Hug decided to go back to the fair’s traditional dates in order to allow collectors to attend both events....

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