“exhibition”

“Shapeless assembly”, a new international trend

A new artistic scene is blooming, from New York to Berlin. And the works in question? Strange assemblies of heterogeneous materials, indistinct unstable sculptures, sometimes the fruit of joyful post-Duchamp bricolage. AMA has wondered why their reception is more subdued in France than elsewhere. A trend decoded. Coloured plastic drips and hangs from a piece of wood. Undefineable shapes from a mishmash of materials, punkish tubular creatures, newly obsolete machines hooked up to geometric structures… Perhaps you’ve already come across one of these creations at a young gallery or at a fair? What is it that you’re looking at? A history of our society, an encounter of different materials, or something else altogether? Does our proximity to the visual environment make it more difficult to find the distance needed to understand these works? Does the “newness” of these aesthetic forms disturb our habits? Like the Dadaists and the Fluxus movement, these artists escape from classifications for now. Their apparently incomprehensible works take on different shapes and develop a host of ideas, all the while referring to various artistic movements. Yet a number of common features helps us to grasp what is happening before us and to make out the outlines of a new artistic scene. Born in the 1980s, these artists belong to the same generation. As students in the mid-2000s, at a time when the Internet and globalisation were in full boom, they joined the working brigade in the midst of economic, social, ecological, political crisis… Their society is global and open, but also violent and dystopian. In their ambivalence, everything seems possible to them, but at the same time, nothing at all. Their productions resemble assemblies, associated – in the eyes of those of us who care to look – with the notions of heterogeneity, materiality, shapelessness....

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Contemporary art, the cash cow

One hundred milligrams of calcium per portion and only 19% fat…this is The Laughing Cow. Something of a cult- and this year it is Belgian artist Wim Delvoye to design the collector’s edition box. Previewing at the FIAC, at only 5 euros, it’s the most affordable piece of contemporary art at this year’s fair. With four hundred million consumers worldwide, two hundred and forty portions eaten each second, The Laughing Cow is the gold standard amongst amateur cheese lovers; the quirky triangular cheese, imprinted with an image of a jovial, earring-clad cow is eaten by half of all families with children under the age of fifteen. It would seem that there is no shortage of milk on the contemporary art scene. Cheese company Bel Group has taken the bull by the horns and launched their ‘collector’s box’, a limited edition by one of the biggest names on the international art scene. So what’s the concept? An upcoming contemporary artist will create a cardboard box with 24 portions of cheese bearing the unmistakeable little red zipper of the sometimes irritating, but essentially loveable brand. Combine this with a good dose of marketing and a worldwide zeal for spreadable cheese, and you have an industrial commodity where a supermarket mainstay meets the fine arts – a gentle nod to Andy Warhol’s Campbell’s Soup Cans. Between Pop art and bovine humour, iconic packaging has been reinstated in the canon of contemporary cool, and The Laughing Cow’s rounds of triangular cheese pieces in salute-worthy packaging is enjoying visible influence on artists. Hans-Peter Feldmann, German artist and passionate image collector, was the first commissioned by Bel Group to create a collectors box. He was followed in consecutive years by Thomas Bayrle, best known for his work with serial repetition techniques, and Jonathan Monk, a...

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Fluid aesthetics

The fourteenth edition of the Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon calls on our senses to redefine the notion of modernity. With curator Emma Lavigne in charge, the event unfolds like a vast flowing music score, both for the ears and the eyes. A dive into the heart of “Floating Worlds”… The poetic title of the new edition of the Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon – borrowed from the Japanese artistic movement ukiyo-e, literally “images of the floating world” – offers a perfect illustration of the gliding feel which characterises this second episode in the trilogy of biennials from 2015 to 2019, whose overall theme, “Moderne”, was chosen by the event’s artistic director, Thierry Raspail. Emma Lavigne, director of the Centre Pompidou-Metz invites us to discover a shifting universe in which liquid vies with the solid, in which flows, the invisible and impermanency furtively take form – to encourage a broadened and connected grasp of our world. After the “Modern Life” event conceived by Ralph Rugoff in 2015, “Floating Worlds” – imagined by one of the most sought-after French curators at the moment – is mooring at La Sucrière and the MAC de Lyon until January 2018. Between the ebb and flow of the Rhône and Saône Rivers in Lyon, some 70 international artists are offering sound and visual installations that stage the choreography of “objects of experience” – in the words of Thierry Raspail –, as the random movements of the elements, light, air and energy, blend with the architecture and space of the various sites, along with occasional interventions from the public. In Lyon, rich dialogues between historic pieces in the Centre Pompidou’s collections and current works, as well as the intercultural viewpoints of the artists, sketch out afresh the “augmented” contours of modern aesthetics. An “extendable” modernity,...

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Data: Hockney or brazen youth

After the Tate in London, and prior to the MoMA in New York, the Centre Pompidou in Paris is celebrating the artist’s 80th birthday. Landscapes, portraits and drawings show the incredible vitality of this British painter, the author of a dense, colourful, polymorphous body of work that is more sought after than ever – as figures show. A thin silhouette in front of a monumental work, David Hockney poses before The Arrival of Spring in Woldgate, East Yorkshire, a 2011 painting that the Briton recently donated to the Centre Pompidou. It’s Tuesday 27 September, and the 80-year-old artist, donning a cap as always, has a green cardigan and a raspberry-coloured tie… The painter has a knack for matching colours. He’s smiling of course. He also makes jokes, it’s almost a habit for him. Hockney, we all know, is good-natured. This donation marks the retrospective that the Beaubourg in Paris is devoting to the artist until 23 October. No less than the most spectacular retrospective, in the painter’s opinion, for visitors can see, the artist confided in July 2017 to Éric Dahan for the magazine Vanity Fair, “one hundred and sixty works including my biggest painting, currently conserved in Australia – Bigger Trees Near Warter ou Peinture sur le motif pour le nouvel âge post-photographique –, as well as small paintings from my youth that I painted in Bradford sixty years ago.” This donation also enriches a French collection that has left little room for the pop artist. But can we reduce, to this adjective alone, the work of this Briton who can be considered the spiritual son born of the Picasso-Matisse union, this master illustrator and genius of colours, this artist who championed hyperrealism at a period when abstract expressionism was the only path to salvation in painting? “Abstraction dominated everything...

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Back to Bilbao

October 19th 1997, the Guggenheim Museum, Bilbao, opens its doors to the public for the first time. From the subsequent architectural frenzy to the growth of the brand, we take a look at the flagship of cultural globalisation 20 years after the inauguration of Frank Gehry’s emblematic design. Happy Birthday Guggenheim Bilbao!   Today, Guggenheim is more than a surname; it’s a brand – a trademark whose global reach and mainstream position have ensured untouchable success. The formula is simple; to build locally and exhibit globally. As has been the case for 58 years now, the dialectic is straightforward, yielding striking results. From New York to Bilbao (passing via Venice), the golden triangle of the masterpiece trend is off the scale. Things have not always been plain-sailing and there have inevitably been some challenges along the way in Guggenheim’s quest to increase their global presence. Whilst the New York flagship, anchored on Fifth Avenue, has stood the test of time since 1959, and the Venier dei Leoni, on the Grand Canal, Venice, has been home to the Peggy Guggenheim collection for more than thirty-five years, conversely, the SoHo (New York) arm closed in 2001 and Las Vegas’ Hermitage Museum followed suit in 2008. The Berlin Guggenheim, known for its radical minimalism (its entire exhibition space was open plan), closed its doors for the last time in 2013. The Solomon R Guggenheim Foundation, home of many important pieces, was also forced to close, unable to overcome the multiple hurdles in its path. These closures in quick succession – the woeful result of a mismatched marriage of art and money – were difficult setbacks to recover from. Other Guggenheim projects didn’t even get off the ground; firstly in Guadalajara, Mexico, then in Vilnius, Lithuania, projects for two further museums were quashed....

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