“France”

Working Promesse: design in flux in Saint-Étienne

The 10th Biennale Internationale du Design de Saint-Étienne “promises” a new approach to design to match our shifting work paradigms. This experimental 2017 edition also queries, in inspired fashion, the impact of digital technology on our lives. Opening on 9 March. Does the 21st century mark the end of the era of the beautiful and functional designer object? This simple question draws an answer that is complex, or at least, qualified! At a time when our society is embarking on deep changes, in a context of world crisis and accentuated tensions, the notion of design also seems to be undergoing a complete metamorphosis. And for good reason: the new technologies which increasingly invade our personal and private lives, are triggering new behaviour from individuals at work, and more widely, in their daily lives. These new attitudes have been assimilated and taken into account by today’s designers in their practice. For the last decade or so, design has turned towards social phenomena, towards services, used by users who also are undergoing deep change. Working Promesse, the latest edition of the Biennale Internationale du Design de Saint-Étienne, takes into consideration these new directions in its exhibitions, performances and experiments, where the object is joined by, or even gives way to social, utopic, or critical reflection on the issue. In 2012, during the sixth Biennale Internationale du Design de Liège, Ezio Manzini, a professor at the Polytechnic University of Milan and founder of DESIS (Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability), explained to the press that design could now be defined as “an approach and a set of tools”. Exit the one-off production of objects; the profession can now be viewed as the development of “networks” that pay attention to the user who plays a role in perfecting these new systems. In 2017,...

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Speedy Graphito is not a street artist!

Pertinence and impertinence… These are the traits of Speedy Graphito’s artistic journey, as revealed by the retrospective on him currently being held at the Musée du Touquet in France. See for yourself. How did you become Speedy Graphito? I’ve always painted, and I took my first drawing lessons at the age of nine. From then on, one thing led to another: I created stage sets between 14 and 20 years, and then I went through five years of training at an art school, including two years at the Ecole Estienne in Paris. My first paintings produced under the name of Speedy Graphito date back to 1984, the same year as my first exhibition at the Espace Pierre Cardin. Afterwards, the gallery Polaris – run by France’s youngest gallerist at the time – decided to back me. It was my creation of the poster for “La Ruée vers l’Art” in 1985 which ensured me sudden, immediate notoriety throughout France. Then came exhibitions, solo shows at the FIAC, and street-art interventions on the walls of Paris… “La Ruée vers l’Art” is incidentally the starting point of the show on you at the Musée du Touquet, the gateway that allows us to sweep through more than 30 years of your career. Is this retrospective important for you? I find that it’s important, at this stage of my career, to show the different periods that have marked the last few years, because people mainly know the recent works that they’ve seen on Internet. The show is a way to present series that seem dissociated from the rest, but which slot in with a global approach. The 70 paintings on show mainly come from my own collection: I try to keep at least one painting per period. Something else that is important in an...

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Centre Pompidou: pipe dreams

Delivered by architects Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano in 1977, the Centre Pompidou recently celebrated its 40th birthday. We retrace this museum, social and monumental adventure. An account of the “Pompidou touch”, an example of interdisciplinarity and cultural renown. The 40th birthday of the Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges-Pompidou, in Paris, is a national event. The Centre Pompidou was quick to become a world icon, a symbol of France’s avant-garde spirit, supported by the French president Georges Pompidou, and known for its once contested architecture, designed by the Italian-British architectural duo, Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano. At the time, some compared the building to a supermarket… “All the better. People won’t be afraid of entering it,” Piano is said to have replied. “Pompidou wanted to reconcile France with the culture of his time, noting that while our country, under the influence of André Malraux, had turned to the arts with conviction, it experienced certain difficulties in taking in more recent innovations from contemporary creation,” observed the museum’s president from 1996 to 2002, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, to Le Figaro. Planted in a once working-class district, coming up with the museum plan, then building it, were real gambles, pulling along with it a few modern and contemporary art galleries, such as the very first one to set up in the area, Daniel Templon, at 30 Rue Beaubourg, in 1972, opposite the gaping hole that awaited the museum at the time. We should mention that on the international avant-garde scene – which was starting to globalise and meet strong competition –, Paris needed a museum to reshuffle the contemporary-art cards. Inaugurated in 1977 with an exhibition on Marcel Duchamp and curated by Jean Clair, the museum, directed by Pontus Hulten from Sweden at the time, put on one themed exhibition after...

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Pascal Pinaud or the memory of gestures

A big season lies ahead for artist Pascal Pinaud. Two exhibitions are currently featuring him near Nice (“Sempervivum” at the Fondation Maeght and “C’est à vous de voir” at the Espace de l’Art Concret), before being followed up by another at the FRAC Marseille. The south of France is fertile artistic territory, and Nice is one of its breeding grounds. Near the end of the 1950s, the Ecole de Nice wrote a chapter in the history of art. This artistic movement asserted its independence from Paris, led by figures including Arman, Albert Chubac, Yves Klein, Martial Raysse, Ben and Bernar Venet. Found at the crossroads of different movements – Nouveau Réalisme, Fluxus, Support/Surface –, this school would add colour to the French scene. Pascal Pinaud is a child of this Nice School, even if he was born a bit further off to the west, in Toulouse, in 1964. Graduating from the Villa Arson (Nice) in 1990, he has taught at the same school since 1999. He has also carried out a number of projects in the region, such as an “exuberant composition of hybrid street lamps” for a tram stop in the Saint-Jean-d’Angély district (Nice, 2007). The three institutions which have programmed Pascal Pinaud in 2017, the Fondation Maeght, the Espace de l’Art Concret and the FRAC PACA, thus pay a fine homage to a child – albeit an adoptive one – of the region. One retrospective, two in situ projects At the Fondation Maeght, “Sempervivum” resembles a retrospective:  paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, installations and neons, produced between 1989 and 2016, are being shown to the public. “The show conveys the impression of a collective exhibition,” confides Pascal Pinaud. He’s not wrong either, so wide a formal spectrum is covered by the artist’s works. Pascal Pinaud works in series...

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Le Transpalette: a breeding ground of culture in Bourges

After 18 months of works, Bourges’ contemporary art centre reopened in autumn with “Entropia”, an exhibition-manifesto in the experimental space. With its two floors of galleries linked by a spiral staircase, the Transpalette, the renewed art centre in Bourges, is a fine example of how industrial architecture can be magnified by a renovation process. White dominates inside, just as it does on the walls of the façade. Since reopening in October, the space has hosted a collective show combining pieces by Art Orienté Objet (AAO), Quimera Rosa and SMITH (formerly Dorothée Smith). Without altering the original architecture, the 18 months of works have brought the building up to current standards by making it weatherproof, cleaning up the walls, renewing its framework, adding a lift to the outer façade, and installing a security staircase. The Transpalette is one of the buildings belonging to the disused industrial premises of Antre-peaux, a former construction company with a number of workshops arranged around a large courtyard. Apart from the offices of the Emmetrop association which manages the former industrial space, this spot is also home to the association Bandits Mages (devoted to digital images and video) and welcomes a concert hall and several workspaces for resident artists. A second wave of works will offer new facilities in 2017, namely a classroom. The advance of science and the return of ancestral savoir Behind Bourges’ contemporary art centre is Emmetrop, an association established in 1984. From contemporary music to performance and street arts, it is active in different fields and today has 19 employees. Since Transpalette’s opening in 1998, Claude Lévêque, Daniel Buren, Wang Du, Lawrence Weiner, but also Jean-Luc Moulène and Françoise Petrovitch, have been some of the artists to show their work here. Artistic programming, supervised by curator and art critic Damien Sausset,...

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