Thaddaeus Ropac: “I’m more curious to see what is happening far from us”

It’s no small event… Thaddaeus Ropac is opening a fifth gallery, this time in London. The gallerist here explains his enthusiasm for the British capital, considers the Brexit, and expands on his exhibition policy… A full agenda ahead. The new branch of the Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, in London – following the trail of Kamel Mennour who also settled in the city last October –, will be opening to the public on 28 April. The gallery will be located in an 18th century former residence at the heart of the historic Mayfair district. The ground-floor and first-floor spaces of the new venue will be inaugurated with an exhibition of historic photographs and video sculptures by Gilbert & George, a selection of American minimal-art works from the Marzona collection, as well as drawings from the 1950s and 1960s. A sculpture by Joseph Beuys will also be presented, along with a new performance and recent sculptures by Oliver Beer. Explanations follow. You’re opening a new gallery in London next spring. What is the main reason for this choice? Opening in London is in line with the way the gallery is moving forward. We represent many artists, and I think that we’re capable of running several galleries at the same time. It’s very exciting. We can put on more exhibitions and show more art. We’re trying to reach out to an even greater public with the exhibitions that we hold. This follows our gallery’s logic. I’m a staunch European, as I always say. So my principle has been to set up within the European context and of course, England was so much part of this. I didn’t want to go to the United States or China or anywhere else. There aren’t many cities in Europe that have quite as great an impact on the visibility of art...

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Fons Hof: “Art Rotterdam, a very active little fair”

Destination the Netherlands for the 18th edition of Art Rotterdam, from 9 to 12 February. An international vision, a European perspective… A meeting with Fons Hof, the fair’s director. Dedicated to the emerging scene and young contemporary-art talents, Art Rotterdam is welcoming around one hundred Dutch and European galleries. The fair is being held at the Van Nelle factory, a huge modernist-style industrial building, built between 1925 and 1931, today on the UNESCO World Heritage list. The director of Art Rotterdam, Fons Hof, tells Art Media Agency about the specificities of the fair and what’s new for the 2017 edition. Can you give us the lowdown on Art Rotterdam? For this 18th edition, we are expecting around one hundred galleries spread between the main section and the New Art section. Art Rotterdam defends the new and emerging contemporary-art scene. While remaining on the European scale, its outlook is international. The selection committee chooses galleries on the basis of their programming and their international approach. These are mainly established in the Netherlands, with foreign participants making up 40 % of the main section, and 20 % of the New Art section. Selection for the New Art section, reserved to galleries which have existed for under seven years, is in the hands of Natasha Hoare, a curator at the Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam. In the workshops of the Van Nelle factory, the Intersection section is welcoming, for the third year, installations and performances by artists or non-commercial structures. For the fifth year, the Mondrian Fund will be presenting the “Prospects & Concepts” exhibition, featuring the work of 66 young artists who received grants from the fund in 2015. The curator is Stijn Huijts, director of the Bonnefanten Museum in Maastricht. Finally, the selection for the video...

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Louis-Antoine Prat: shared passion

Since its creation in 1897, the Société des Amis du Louvre, an association which does not receive State funding, has contributed to the wealth of the Louvre Museum’s collections. Over its existence, it has acquired, thanks to the passion of over 60,000 members, around 800 masterpieces, which it has donated to the museum. Louis-Antoine Prat was elected as president of the Amis du Louvre in 2016, taking over from Académie Française member Marc Fumaroli who had presided over the association since 1996. Through its renown and the size of its community, the Société des Amis du Louvre has become France’s leading association devoted to the expansion of museum collections. In the current economic context in which State grants are increasingly meagre, sponsorship is a collective lever that has grown in prominence. Louis-Antoine Prat is an author and a teacher at the École du Louvre, specialised in drawing. A passionate collector, he has belonged since 1979 to the Société des Amis of which he is now president. What led you to the Société des Amis du Louvre? Is your passion for collecting the main element in your path? I was lucky to live surrounded by art ever since I was a child. My mother took me to the Louvre, and my father, an art lover rather than a collector, left behind varied piles of works. After studying literature and studying at Sciences Po, my wife and I enrolled up until doctoral level at the École du Louvre, driven by a joint desire to better understand the works around us. I became a project manager in the Graphic Arts department 40 years ago. Initially a scientific contributor, my task was to curate exhibitions and draw up inventories. Following a real-estate sale and inspired by the drawing seminars that we followed at...

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Pierre Lungheretti, an eye on comics

International, pluralist and transversal… on the eve of the Festival de la Bande Dessinée, we take a look at the plans of the new general manager of Cité Internationale de la BD et de l’Image in Angoulême, Pierre Lungheretti. A speech-bubble encounter. You were appointed as head of the Cité in January 2016 and you’ve been able to think out and construct your plan which you presented to the board six months later. This is quite an unusual way to do things… That’s true. It’s rare to be appointed to a post without presenting your direction first. I was lucky to be able to build my plans from the inside. Could you introduce the Cité Internationale de la Bande Dessinée et de l’Image in Angoulême to us? As a public establishment for cultural cooperation that is unique in Europe – co-financed by the French ministry of culture and communication, the department of La Charente, the city of Angoulême and the Poitou-Charentes region –, the Cité is a structure composed of several entities. On the one hand, the Comics Museum – an important heritage collection comprising 130,000 printed works and 13,000 storyboards, making it the largest collection in Europe –, and on the other hand, a specialised public library, a resource centre that welcomes researchers, a wonderful panoramic brasserie, and a cinema. There is also the Maison des Auteurs which receives around fifty authors every year, 70 % of whom come from overseas. Lastly, we can mention the specialised bookshop which is taking on increasing importance, as illustrated by its turnover, which has doubled in the last ten years or so. Can you observe a peak in sales during the Festival de la Bande Dessinée? Yes, but we record regular sales spread out all year round, because comics fans come...

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Jelle Bouwhuis: Decolonising the Art World

Jelle Bouwhuis is currently curator-at-large at the Stedelijk Museum. He has been the head of its project space, Stedelijk Museum Bureau Amsterdam for ten years. In the recent past he was amongst others in charge of the “Global Collaborations” project, with collaborative exhibitions in Yogyakarta, Beirut, Belgrade or Bombay.   What is your background? I was doing some irrelevant jobs and playing in a band until I enrolled into an art mind by studying art history at the age of 23. Art history seemed to me one of those fields of study that is not concerned with career making. But during my studies, I started to work at university for some teaching and then I turned into an art critic for a daily newspaper. Later on, I started working for marketing and public relations for art museums. How do you perceive the role of curators and the relationship between curators and artists? This is a difficult question… From the institutional perspective, there is a very strong separation between the two – curators have fixed paid jobs while artists do not. On the other hand, a lot of solo exhibitions of living artists are very much indebted to or practically curated by the artists themselves. Certainly in smaller institutions, the roles of curator and artist are interdependent. It is much nicer not to be fixed to a certain title and shift among the roles of curator, artist, writer, art critic. So what is a curator? It might depend on what exactly and where you are looking at. It is true that there is a trend since the 60s when curators started to assume more pivotal roles. Today many institutions are concerned about numbers, finances and branding their programs – if this is not possible with a famous artist, then perhaps a...

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