“interview”

Alain Lombard, the new head of the Collection Lambert

A graduate of the French administration school ENA, he was previously secretary general of the Villa Médicis, a cultural attaché in Budapest, but also general administrator for the Musée d’Orsay and the Musée de l’Orangerie… His name ? Alain Lombard, who this year takes over from Éric Mézil at the helm of the Collection Lambert. An encounter in Avignon.   The news was released on 5 February this year… Éric Mézil, who had directed the Collection Lambert since 2000, would be handing over his position to Alain Lombard. After working for 17 years alongside dealer Yvon Lambert, Éric Mézil has left an enduring print on the Avignon cultural landscape, marked by ambitious programming. We remember of course his big solo exhibitions: Cy Twombly in 2007, Miquel Barceló in 2010, Andres Serrano in 2016, or more surprisingly, the outside-the-walls show, in 2014, in the former Sainte-Anne prison, titled “La Disparition des lucioles”. Now at the helm, Alain Lombard has taken on the mission of bringing life to this extraordinary contemporary-art collection… Indeed, the Collection Lambert, born in 2000 in Avignon, is quite a special museum. The works owned by art dealer and collector Yvon Lambert were long stored in the Hôtel de Caumont, and the donation of over 550 works to the French State only became official in July 2012. Now housed in two eighteenth-century townhouses – after the addition of the Hôtel de Montfaucon to the project –, the Collection Lambert offers a selection of major works from the second half of the 20th century and the start of the 21st century.   Can you tell us about your background? I had the fortune to be able to choose to join the French Ministry of Culture when I graduated from the ENA, and I’ve worked there since 1982, in...

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Hicham Berrada or the world of potentials

He’s a “chemical-reaction manager” who explores scientific protocols. Through his revisited Land Art, Hicham Berrada mingles with living things, but often on a molecular scale. An artist with a yen for chemistry, he reinvents a number of natural processes to create highly original landscapes. Situated somewhere between nature and artifice…   Have you ever seen a field of dandelions releasing white haloes in the middle of the night? Or a blue cloud forming in a matter of seconds, like a turbulent sky painted by eighteenth-century French artist François Boucher? Or else timeless landscapes materialising from fragile aquatic gardens, or abstract galaxies being born before your eyes? What, you might ask, is the key to this magic? Yet Hicham Berrada is not a magician but a virtuoso in physics experiments. An alchemist-artist, he orchestrates chemical combinations in the way that a painter will play with the colours on his palette. In his studio, there are no canvases but little boxes stacked up on top of one another. Waiting to be activated to express their magic and to unfurl dreamlike landscapes.   I discovered your work in 2013 at a collective exhibition at the Palais de Tokyo. How has your practice evolved since? In 2013, I spent a year at the Villa Medici. This is where I started off a number of research projects. The experience allowed me to go on to produce Mesk-Ellil (2015), and Masse et martyr (2017), artificial bronze creations that I presented at the Abbaye de Maubuisson until April. Creation is often a very long process. The time factor is a key component of my work. These objects evolve, I have to keep them in my studio for one or even two years before I can show them.   Do you mean that you don’t know the...

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David Nash, time and nature

Wood, erosion and seasons… David Nash’s art is rooted in our planet Earth. We met him in his home in Wales, where he’s hidden himself away in a former chapel. This is where he sculpts his life-size works with the help of a chainsaw and welding torch, watched by an audience of trees. “They look at me…” David Nash was born in 1945 in Surrey, England. Today acknowledged as one of the most illustrious British exponents of Land Art, he works relentlessly with his material of choice, wood, to create installations or sculptures. While his creations are exhibited in museums all over the world, his largest formats have been created for the Yorkshire Sculpture Park in Wakefield, or his own home, in Blaenau Ffestiniog, Wales. Here, Nash resides in a former chapel, impressive in its dimensions and brightness. It houses some of his oldest pieces, which Nash is fond of reworking, attesting to a cyclical approach to time. This summer, David Nash’s work is being shown at the Fondation Fernet-Branca near Basel, while another exhibition has recently wrapped up at the Museum Lothar Fisher in Neumarkt, Germany. The Galerie Lelong which represents him in Paris is also unveiling his new works on paper until 13 July.   After you finished your studies, you decided to settle here, in this former church in Blaenau Ffestiniog. Why? I bought it in 1968 for 200 pounds and as I didn’t have to work to earn money, I was able to devote myself to my art. But I taught in different schools from 1970 onwards, working with students experimenting with all types of mediums. For me, creativity is one and the same whatever the medium, and what I’d teach them in particular was to develop confidence in themselves, whether in painting, sculpture or...

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Germaine Krull, from industry to aesthetics

The German photographer Germaine Krull owes her reputation as an avant-garde artist to her work Metal. Until 10 June, Munich’s Pinakothek der Moderne is devoting a huge exhibition to her. An interview with Simone Förster, curator for the Ann and Jürgen Wilde Foundation behind this exhibition.   Over her life, almost 90 years long, Germaine Krull lived on four continents. Could you retrace the different stages of her life? Germaine Krull was born in Poznan, Poland, in 1897, and moved many times during her childhood. Her family lived in Italy, France, Switzerland and Austria. She arrived in Germany when she was a teenager, where she studied photography, and then she opened a studio in Munich. Because of her political stance during the Bavarian revolution, she was expelled from Germany in 1920. After, she went to Russia, where she stood up alongside the Communists. But she was deemed a counter-revolutionary there, and was imprisoned and expelled from the USSR. After stints in Berlin and Amsterdam, she settled in Paris, where she opened a portrait and fashion photography studio. It was also during this period that she produced her work Metal. Next, she worked as a war reporter, declared her opposition to the Vichy regime, and became a journalist-photographer in Congo-Brazzaville. Germaine Krull then left for Thailand where she managed a hotel for around twenty years. When she was already getting on in years, she moved to India to support Tibetan refugees, before returning to be with her sister in Germany, where she died in 1985.   What role did France play in this artist’s career? It was in Paris that Germaine Krull made a name for herself as an avant-garde artist and photographer, with her Metal portfolio, produced in 1928. The part of her work for which she is appreciated...

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Miguel Chevalier: bits & cells

He’s one of the pioneers in virtual and digital art. He tackles the question of intangibility and computer-led logic. Hybridity, generativeness and networking are at the heart of his research… An hour in the company of Miguel Chevalier, an observer of the flows dear to our contemporary society.   It’s at La Fabrika, his big studio in Ivry-sur-Seine (and so named in homage to another famous studio), that Miguel Chevalier designs his works. All around, you’ll see prototypes, 3D prints, projectors and projections…  This spring, his studio is a hive of activity as he gets set for several solo shows (at the submarine base in Bordeaux and a double event in London, at the Mayor and Wilmotte Galleries). Miguel Chevalier is also taking part in major group exhibitions, namely “Artistes & Robots” at the Grand Palais, and “AI Musiqa” at the Philharmonie de Paris.   The exhibition “Digital Abysses”, recently launched at the submarine base in Bordeaux, with ten installations and a hundred or so works spread out over 3500 square metres, is one of your largest to date… That’s right, this is my biggest exhibition to date. The submarine base is an unusual site, constructed at the end of World War II. I didn’t want to illustrate the memories of the place, but rather, work on the relationship with water and the great depths and abysses in which U-boats plunged. The large printed fabric Atlantide (25 x 9 metres) opens the exhibition, emerging as the floor of the base’s first pool. Then, we arrive at the bunker’s entrance – a spot that’s all the more interesting as it immerses visitors in darkness and comprises numerous spaces on different scales. I drew inspiration from plankton and all sorts of aquatic microorganisms, such as radiolarians and protozoa that are observable...

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