“contemporary art”

Lee Ufan at Le Corbusier

Listed as UNESCO world heritage, the Couvent de la Tourette, designed in 1953 by Le Corbusier, is hosting, as part of the Biennale de Lyon, the works of Lee Ufan. Minimalism and a sensitive relationship with space… After Versailles in 2014, the artist faces the austerity of the famous Dominican convent. An encounter.   Born in 1936, the Korean artist moved to Japan in 1956 and embarked on studies in Western philosophy. He is one of the main protagonists and theoreticians of the Mono-ha (“School of Things”) movement, emerging in 1968 and exploring the association of untransformed manufactured objects with elements of nature. “We must learn to see all things as they are without objectifying the world by means of representation which is imposed by humans,” he wrote in 1969 in the journal Critique du design. Ever since, Lee Ufan has worked in this fashion, uncompromisingly, relating places and materials, creating constantly renewed dialogues between the made and the non-made. His sculptural approach is reflected by his paintings characterised by coloured markings. For every exhibition, the artist recalls the necessity to work in situ in order to observe and be in tune with the space. In Lyon, Lee Ufan has created a series of installations, some of which hold the particularity of being ephemeral constructions, like his Japanese-paper room set in the middle of concrete pillars.   In this spot invested by a strong architectural gesture, how did you go about making your works dialogue with Le Corbusier? The idea that the artwork is a place of mediation between the inside and the outside has long pre-existed in my work. All my works have thus been thought out in relation to spaces and the relationship between the inside and the outside, perfectly accomplished by Le Corbusier in this impressive piece...

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A giant lobster in the Salon de Mars

Bringing contemporary art into heritage sites… and vice versa. In France, this practice has developed widely since the 1980s. From Jeff Koons to Paul MacCarthy, we retrace a French cultural exception… that gives off a whiff of scandal.   It’s a fact… The integration of recent artworks on heritag sites is far from being a new phenomenon. Over the centuries, monuments have always submitted to the transformations brought by artistic modernity and the sensibilities of individual artists and artisans. But in France, from the second half of the 19th century onwards, a desire to safeguard and protect historic constructions began to somewhat overturn this practice; for the sake of “collective consciousness”, it was deemed necessary to preserve these monuments as witnesses to the past which defines our own history. It was thus timidly that art, as an expression of its times, began turning its attention afresh to heritage buildings, following 1945. The installation in the Cathédrale de Metz, in the 1950s, of the first stained-glass windows by internationally renowned and independent painters, inaugurated a new artistic direction for the French Historic Monuments office. Jacques Villon, Roger Bissière and of course Marc Chagall opened the way for modernity to be assimilated in buildings hitherto synonymous with the past – not without causing debate. What can be noted is that the first orders of this type were mainly stained-glass windows intended for cathedrals and other churches. Next to come were André Masson’s ceiling for the Théâtre de l’Odéon and Marc Chagall’s ceiling for the Opéra Garnier – the leading works to be carried out during the years when André Malraux was France’s culture minister (1959-1969), attesting to his commitment. At a time when examples from overseas still couldn’t be found, contemporary-art commissions for historic monuments were backed up in France by...

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Data: Christopher Wool

Christopher Wool is what one might call a phenomenon; he produces little work, rarely expresses himself and his work began to change hands for tens of millions of dollars at a relatively early stage in his career. We take a look at his 350 million dollar portfolio. Graffiti on a white van; legend has it that Christopher Wool’s famous word paintings were inspired by graffiti on a white van, with the simple words ‘sex luv’. In 2012, 20 years after its creation, Phillips sold the mother of all wall paintings for a hammer price of 3.5 million dollars. Christopher Wool is one of those rare artists to have had various strokes of luck. Born in Boston in 1955, he grew up in Chicago in middle class family. In 1973, at the age of 18, he moved to New York to study art at the New York Studio School under the supervision of Harry Krame and Jack Tworkov, before swiftly abandoning the course to make the most of what the Big Apple had to offer. During the early 80’s he made the most of this newfound freedom by working from time to time in the studio of artist Joel Shapiro. It was during this time that he developed his most popular series; from his famous word paintings and flowers to his patterns and eagles series. A contemporary of Basquiat, he was one of the first artists to integrate graffiti and street art techniques (spray paint, stencils, rollers) into work on canvas. Above all, Wool is an artist who takes an avant-garde approach to painting, whilst everyone else is preoccupied with finding new media. In just 10 years, he has firmly established his position in the market. Star exhibitionist Christopher Wool has already been the subject of numerous exhibitions; no less...

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FIAC 2017, elevating the fair to a fine art

Four days, 29 countries invited, 192 galleries and at least 70,000 visitors expected… Unfolding its 44th edition, the FIAC stands out, once again, as the major cultural event of this back-to-school period with the City of Light reflecting bright contemporary rays. FIAC lux! Has the FIAC finally hit on the right formula? After years of hesitations and oscillations between programme strategies as diverse as they’ve been varied, the event now seems to have found a recipe that suits not only the general public, but also collectors, art critics… and even professionals. All the while reconciling artistic quality and broad accessibility. Like every year, the event’s epicentre is under the nave of the Grand Palais, where the General section is on show, gathering the most prestigious galleries on the contemporary-art market. Namely one hundred or so brands, both French and international names, in a proportion which seems to be the norm for events of this type: one-quarter are locals, the others hail from overseas. But does the distinction make much of a difference these days in the upper-market sector, where Parisian boutiques look much like those in San Francisco? In total, two-thirds of the galleries present are European in origin, which at least serves as a reminder of the discreet yet weighty role played by the EU on the world stage of the art market. This year, the selection committee for exhibitors was composed of eight specialists, namely Olivier Antoine, Gisela Capitain, Mark Dickenson, David Fleiss, Solène Guillier, Jan Mot, Emmanuel Perrotin and Christophe Van de Weghe. Out of the 192 participants, 40 galleries are taking part in the FIAC for the first time, and six new countries are making their debut: Egypt, Kosovo, Norway, Portugal, Sweden and Tunisia. The cream of international galleries And then there are the faithful....

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Interview: Jennifer Flay

At this 44th edition of the FIAC, director Jennifer Flay is presenting 192 galleries. On top of its many stands, the fair is developing through its outdoor installations, scattered across the Jardins des Tuileries up to the Place Vendôme, as well as a performance festival. An interview. For this big yearly contemporary-art parade, once again, the fair’s boss hasn’t done things by halves. Voguish aesthetics and art-business rhetoric… Jennifer Flay is leading the Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain – along with its paintings, sculptures, performances, installations – towards new summits. Namely with a staunch desire to anchor contemporary art more solidly in the Parisian space. The aim? To make this exciting event, held between Art Basel in June, and Miami Beach in December, one of the most stylish musts on planet Art.   This year, the fair is welcoming 40 new exhibitors – that’s quite a number! No, not really if we think back to the FIAC’s big overhaul period when I arrived in 2004, when we’d go up to 60 new galleries a year. Forty is a figure that has popped up quite naturally in the last few years. The new exhibitors are mainly young brands – including galleries in the Lafayette section, whose goal is to support emerging players – as well as design galleries who we’re delighted to bring back this year. This figure also demonstrates a certain stability: today, the FIAC is in the midst of a consolidation and stepping-up phase. Our event needs to be fresh and progressive – something that comes out especially through its state of mind. Last year, our big achievement was to close Avenue Winston-Churchill and to open up the sector to the Petit Palais, hence offering a new geography for the FIAC, but also for Paris.   In market terms,...

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