Philipp Kaiser, a very “Public” person

Philipp Kaiser is a man of vision. This year Art Basel chose him to direct the Public sector, following in the footsteps of Nicholas Baume. He tells AMA about how to organize a city-wide show with some of the best living artists, about the changing dynamics of the art world, and the challenges and opportunities unique to Miami Beach. Kaiser has had many different roles throughout his career and for many years he worked on the institutional side of things. He was the Director of Museum Ludwig in Cologne, Germany, the Senior Curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and Curator of Contemporary and Modern art at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Basel, Switzerland. In that capacity, he worked with many of the most influential artists of the past half century, and put together a string of exhibitions that still have people talking today, such as the monumental “Ends of the Earth: Land Art to 1974.” More recently, Kaiser has been working as an independent curator and in that capacity he has had the chance to work more directly with gallerists, and to examine how art intersects with the public outside the walls of museums. Earlier this year he accepted the challenge of curating the Swiss Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. It was the first time Swiss artists were chosen by an independent curator rather than being nominated. Following that success, his current undertaking is to curate Public, the public art side of Art Basel Miami 2017.   Public is always one of the most dynamic, exciting elements of Art Basel Miami. What is your vision for Public 2017? I titled it “Territorial” because I felt it is interesting that one of the ontological qualities of sculpture is territorial. Sculpture always claims space. It doesn’t just...

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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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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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Allan McCollum, encounter in Soho

Born in 1944 in Los Angeles, Allan McCollum has lived in the heart of Manhattan since the 1960s. He is represented by the Mitterrand, Thomas Schulte and MFC-Michèle Didier galleries. An in-studio encounter.   Your work, based on the repetition of forms, is a continuation of your first series dating back to the 1970s… Having been an artist for nearly fifty years, I’ve done a lot of research in my time, but at my age, it becomes important, and even necessary, to look back and see what all your work has in common. I haven’t finished thinking about it yet, even if some unifying themes recur, such as mass production and unique objects. Since the very start of my career, I’ve explored these distinctions, I’ve mixed them up, and while I’m not the only artist to be doing this, I’ve always systematically worked in enormous quantities! I don’t make fifty but ten thousand pieces, and each one is unique. All of my investigations have also considered the space of the gallery or museum, as opposed to that of a store. I always try to contextualise the different ways we have of showing objects with meaning for us. I’ve also made some “souvenirs” and collaborated with small towns to create pieces relating to their own craftsmanship.   Did you originally intend for this multiplicity and this notion of quantity to go against a certain fetishisation of art and the art world? I never use this word “fetishisation” but I agree with the idea. I was born during World War II and I grew up at a time when we discovered the horrors of Nazis and millions of people killed just because they were Jewish, Communists, homosexuals, gypsies… It was a nightmare. Of course I’m expressing my own view, but I...

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