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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Data: Rauschenberg, auctions lagging behind?

Robert Rauschenberg, the rebel; Robert Rauschenberg, the die-hard experimenter. This man who worked in “the gap between art and life” and who contributed to the emergence of the concept of the “visual artist”, would leave his mark on the history of art in the second half of the 20th century. But has the market followed him? Robert Milton Ernest Rauschenberg was born on 22 October 1925 in Port Arthur, in Texas oil country. His parents, fervent Protestants, had limited means. He had a German physician grandfather who fell in love with a Cherokee Indian. At the age of sixteen, young Rauschenberg started studying pharmacy at the University of Texas in Austin. In 1943, he signed up with the US army and joined the Navy Hospital Corps in San Diego, California. Upon his discharge in 1945, he enrolled at the Kansas City Art Institute before setting off for the Académie Julian in Paris. This is where he met Susan Weil, with whom he would have a son. Rauschenberg continued his studies at Black Mountain College (North Carolina), where he met Josef Albers. A stint at New York and the Art Students League, alongside Morris Kantor and Vaclav Vytlacil, gave him the opportunity to meet Knox Martin and Cy Twombly. 1952 marked a turning point in his career. While he was still a student at Black Mountain College, he took part, with John Cage, Merce Cunningham, pianist David Tudor and Jay Watt, in the Untitled Event, also known as Theatre Piece N°.1, often referred to as the first happening by historians. In the same year, he travelled across Europe and North Africa with his lover Cy Twombly. At the start of the 1950s when the United States was under the thrall of abstract expressionism, Robert Rauschenberg had already started to incorporate...

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A new gallery in Deptford, run by Matthew Wood

At the start of November, a gallery replying to the name of “No Format” opened in the Anthology Deptford Foundery in London. The gallery is housed under Arch 29 (Rolt Street) of this project to promote Deptford’s industrial heritage. Matthew Wood, the gallery’s director – but also director of SFSA (Second Floor Studio & Arts), a body which supplies artists and designers with work spaces at affordable prices – will be opening about sixty studios for artists on the site in 2019, reports the East London Lines web site. For its first exhibition, the gallery, wishing to support local creation, is showing artists from London’s southern districts, among them former computer programmer Rachel Ara, whose This Much I’m Worth won the International Aesthetica Art Prize in...

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David Bowie collection: Memphis fever

The sale of the David Bowie collection at Sotheby’s, London, raises an opportunity for us to retrace a major design movment. The musician’s set of furniture items and objects by the Memphis group fetched strikingly high prices at the recent auction. Industrialisation drove Europe into the mechanical era in the 19th century. The call to modernity launched by Italian futurism offered a poetic vision of metropolises, which went against the conventions of Italian art and society at the time. As a result, the notion of ruption and denial of the past in favour of a rush towards modernism would underline 20th century art. Subsequently, 1968 would usher in postmodernity, characterised by intellectual attitudes questioning the boundaries separating the aesthetic from the useful. This was also the way to reach a totalising idea of art. Furniture created over this period conveyed a genuine reform of ways of living. In this respect, we can bear in mind the power of objects over humans: while the post-war years introduced the idea of “beauty serving practicality”, the postmodern age tended towards a complete aestheticisation of the world thanks to polished manufactured objects. Postmodernism initiated reflection on the very status of objects. The questioning of the practical features of design stemmed from the cult of the object, and led to the production of furniture items whose functionality was secondary to its form. Anti-design and radical Italian design adopted this tendency. The 1970s-1980s were marked by the Memphis and Alchymia groups, whose melamine creations were aimed at an elitist clientele. The petrol crisis in 1973 triggered new political, economic and ecological questioning. As a result, production methods were challenged. The economic instability at the time catalysed criticism of consumerist society. In 1966, in Florence, two groups introduced a new way of thinking that sealed the...

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David Galloway, about Henri Barande

Former chief curator of the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art, David Galloway discusses his recent exhibition of artist Henri Barande’s work at the Saatchi Gallery. His greatest challenge in almost forty years… As an artist, Henri Barande has always hidden from public exposure. His works are unsigned, untitled and have never been for sale. How did you discover Henri Barande’s work and bring about this exhibition? I met Henri Barande through a mutual acquaintance I’d worked with at the Tehran Museum of Contemporary Art. Very few people knew about his work. He was very reclusive, very reserved: he didn’t want his works to be seen by the public and so had never exhibited before. So I visited him in his atelier in Switzerland and he visited me in France. It took a long time to win his trust, but Henri Barande agreed that I could publish an article about him in the International Herald Tribune and, shortly after that, I wrote a big piece for Art News. A couple of people contacted me following the articles, including Guy Jennings, director of Sotheby’s Zurich. Jennings arranged to visit the atelier and was deeply impressed to see an oeuvre of such beauty and complexity. After getting to know Henri Barande better, Jennings suggested that he should exhibit some works at Sotheby’s Zurich. He still has a strong anonymous side to him. Since then he has only had two other solo exhibitions, one at the Musée d’Art Moderne, Geneva, in 2008, and at the École des Beaux Arts, Paris, in 2011. So it’s taken a long time to get to this point – 17 years in fact! It’s not that Henri Barande is mistrustful, but that his work is intensely private, very philosophical, very spiritual and not something that he gladly shares...

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