The art of life: an interview artist Olivier Leroi

Having received his training as a Forester in Corrèze, in southwestern France, Olivier Leroi turned to art very early on, attending the Institut des hautes études 20 years later, directed by Pontus Hulten, to study art. For 30 years, he has been expressing himself through various media, while exploring numerous themes, always linked to the notions of territory and environment. His work is being exhibited at the Triennale de Vendôme until 31 October 2015. His artistic career path draws public interest as well as the attention of Art Media Agency, to which the artist has agreed to confer during an interview. Could you tell us about how you entered the art world? Initially, you had received completely different training… That might take a while! I don’t know if it’s us who are interested in art or the other way around. It’s something that comes and grows, but it must have something to do with my fascination for life. I had a great uncle who created wooden sculptures; that must have influenced me. I think that at some point, either we do things or we do not. And I did. In terms of your artistic practice, you work with a variety of materials, including glass and wood, but also with diverse media, such as sculpture, drawing and video. How do you explain this plurality? What interests me most is to establish a relationship with the world and the environment. For example, when I work with glassmakers, I learn about an entirely new practice. There is always that “three-person” encounter, between the craftsman, the artist and the moment producing the final result. I could never have created the object on my own and the craftsman wouldn’t have been able to be at the source of it. Do you have a favourite medium?...

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Creating new imaginary worlds with Damien Sausset, curator at Triennale de Vendôme

Damien Sausset, who is an art critic and former curator at the MoMA, joined the Triennale de Vendôme’s curatorial team alongside Érik Noulette and Nadège Piton. The fair’s first edition, which is taking place until 31 October 2015 in Vendôme, France, is bringing together 25 artists from the French Centre-Val de Loire region. He is also serving as the curator of the exhibition “Genre Humain” — along with artist Claude Levêque — hosted by the Palais Jacques Cœur in Bourges until 4 October 2015, Damien Sausset met with Art Media Agency to discuss his two major projects. The Triennale de Vendôme kicked off on 23 May 2015. What’s your general impression ? It is excellent. We have a great deal of neophytes among our visitors, people who are not used to contemporary art but who have come in large numbers. It’s already proven to be successful, and it’s highly probable that the free entrance and the reopening of the complex of Rochambeau, after being closed for 20 years, have played a role in its popularity. We even noticed that some people came back to visit the fair with their families. We are hearing very interesting, positive — but also some negative comments, which proves that the visitors are not remaining indifferent. A number of them are also responding to the playful aspect of the exhibition. In terms of contemporary art specialists, we’ve also received some good feedback, both in terms of scenography and artistic discoveries. So, you’ll be back in three years? My colleagues and I won’t be here anymore, because the curatorial team changes every edition. But the project seems to have started off very well, and should become a permanent one, if the DRAC (Regional Direction of Cultural Affairs) and the region agree to it. Do you have certain obligations toward the DRAC, when it comes to results? Yes,...

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An interview with Jean Claude Gandur, a humanistic collector

Jean Claude Gandur, born in 1949 in Grasse, in the South of France, is a Swiss business man, art collector and patron. He is currently presenting a great part of his archaeology collection at the “Migrations divines” exhibition hosted by the Musée des civilisations d’Europe et de la Méditerranée (MuCEM) in Marseille, France, until 16 November 2015. In this exhibition, the viewer can discover the Mediterranean Basin – Egypt, Greece, and Rome – as a scene of exchange, acculturation and religious syncretism, whose richness we have inherited today. Jean Claude Gandur, who has never stopped collecting, has created two foundations based in Switzerland: Fondation Gandur pour l’art and Fondation Gandur pour la jeunesse, both founded thanks to his humanistic spirit. Gandur has accepted to share with Art Media Agency his vision of the world and art. A great deal of your collection is now being showed at the “Migrations divines” exhibition. Where is the rest of your collection being featured?  The collection is in Geneva, but many objets d’art are currently being exhibited in four Japanese museums, including the Fukui Fine Arts Museum, until 30 August 2015, and museums in Tokyo and Kyoto. Knowing the Japanese people’s taste for small precious objects, like netsuke, small figurines representing scenes of life, I thought that this type of craft could be of interest for the Japanese audience. “Migrations divines” was organised by the MuCEM and the Fondation Gandur pour l’art, in very close collaboration with the Museum of Art and History in Geneva. How did you start working with this institution? I promised a large donation to the Museum of Art and History in Geneva for its expansion. In return, the museum will host part of the collections for a period of 99 years, while remaining the Fondation’s property. So the collection will be temporarily stored at the Museum? Yes. You have to understand that in...

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Auberive Abbey, an artistic and humanistic adventure

Brilliant industrialist and right hand to the owner of Medef, Jean-Claude Volot is at the head of the Dedienne Aerospace group. His desire: to revive ailing companies, so that they can reformulate their business models into something more efficient. After more than 35 years, he has launched a contemporary art collection, but it doesn’t end there. Since Jean-Claude Volot does not do things halfway, but with passion and the spirit of an entrepreneur, he has purchased an old Cistercian abbey, which he has transformed into an art centre, within which he is exhibiting Dado until 27 September 2015, one of the cornerstones of his collection. Art Media Agency could not help but meet this neurotic man -as he describes himself- outspoken and unstoppable. Can you tell us about the old abbey where you have created your art residence? A Cistercian abbey, that’s not trivial! Auberive Abbey belongs to the genealogy of the Cistercian abbeys arisen from Cîteaux. This last abbey mother had four daughters – Clairvaux (Aube), Morimond (Haute-Marne), Pontigny (Yonne), and Ferté (Saône-et-Loire) – and a host of granddaughters such as Auberive. This network of 183 abbeys was developed under the influence of Saint Bernard, between the moment where he became abbot of Clairvaux in 1115 and his death in 1153. He developed his network branch much in the same way as an entrepreneur would do today: becoming mediator to the kings in Europe, he reclaimed the land in exchange for his services, in which he built up these communities. This is how he built an international network. This Cistercian story impassioned me! So Auberive Abbey was perfect for you! We had been looking for four years for a place to make the collection available for the public. We had a variety of specifications, with the possibility to...

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An interview with Wesley A. Fisher on the restitution of Nazi-looted art

Wesley A. Fisher is the Director of Research at the World Jewish Restitution Organisation (WJRO) and the Conference on Jewish Claims Against Germany, which conduct a comprehensive program toward the restitution of Jewish-owned art and cultural property lost and plundered during the Holocaust. Specialised in the matter of cultural property and looted art, Wesley A. Fisher makes sure information about the provenance of artworks is made available, and also works toward a claim process in all countries, establishing their general structure of the laws and procedures, through negotiations with the governments of Europe. At the Washington Conference on Holocaust Era Assets in 1998, 44 countries endorsed the Washington Principles – a series of guidelines – which call upon governments and museums to ensure that there is a just and fair solution to the issue of looted art. On 25 June 2015, the WJRO released a report concerning current approaches of the United States to Holocaust-era art claims, demonstrating that major U.S. museums have recently been asserting defences to avoid resolving on the facts and merits claims by Holocaust victims and their heirs for the restitution of art pilfered by the Nazis. Art Media Agency had the chance to speak with Wesley A. Fisher to discuss his work at the WRJO and the impacts restitution can have on the global art market. Can you tell us more about WJRO’s projects to provide provenance information on Nazi-looted art? The WJRO has worked a lot on unifying and providing access to scattered complex records, such as those of the Einsatzstab Teichsleiter Rosenberg (ERR), the main Nazi agency responsible for looting Jewish-owned cultural valuables outside of the Reich. These records include hundreds of thousands of lists of artworks, Judaica, books and archives stolen by the Nazis, found in 29 archives in ten different countries. The WJRO has managed to reconstruct them and put the records online, to help...

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