“Paris”

Trend: Wood, a magnificent material

To mark the 21st edition of the PAD (Paris Art + Design), from 22 to 26 March in the Tuileries Gardens, we take a plunge into the heart of the matter… Wood or the poetry of raw essences. Variations on an age-old material with a bright future ahead, whose presence on the decorative-arts and design market is… natural. If furniture reflects the spirit of an era, then wood is well and truly a material that cannot be dissociated from the decorative arts. The emergence of a sedentary lifestyle in the Middle Ages contributed to the development of a type of furniture whose technical characteristics have evolved. Starting off with metal hinges and complex assemblies, progress was quick and gave rise to all the variations that we know today. In France, the 17th century saw the emergence of veneered furniture and cabinetwork. Ebony took the place of blackened pearwood while a new type of furniture item made its entrance: the cabinet. The Enlightenment brought an abundance of skill and ingeniousness in all furniture forms, usages and assemblies. Following the lead of the reigning sovereign’s tastes, furniture gradually took on the contributions of Boulle marquetry, porcelain plaques, imported lacquer, Martin varnish… Some furniture was even made sheet metal! Wood was no longer the focus, merely a means of expressing unparalleled refinement. One precision nonetheless: this principle only applied to Parisian decorative arts, conditioned by corporatism. In the French regions, namely in port towns, furniture could appear in solid mahogany. Meanwhile, the 19th century placed greater priority on the quality of wood: mahogany from Saint-Domingue, from Cuba… But very quickly, mechanisation hollowed a gap between artistic craftsmanship and industry. A union between the arts and industry was not a vain utopia however. Michael Thonet thus perfected a bentwood technique drawing inspiration from...

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DDessin or how to re-enchant the world

She’s the founder of DDessin. She’s also co-artistic director of this fair whose line keeps getting stronger and clearer every year. An hour with Eve de Medeiros, tracing the contours of a passion. It’s a place conducive to intimate passions, a spot that stands a little way back from the buzz, ideal for celebrating the aesthetics of drawing lines. It’s a fair, or more precisely, a cabinet dedicated to contemporary drawings. Welcome to the fifth edition of DDessin, a yearly event that is being unveiled from 24 to 26 March under the glass ceiling of the Atelier Richelieu, at the heart of Paris. In other words, 700 m2 wholly dedicated to paper. So much to say that this rendezvous is both a springboard and a joyful venture for the artistic scene working with this medium. Ball-point pens, graphite powder, watercolours, markers, charcoal… Anything goes. And to avoid tripping over its pencils, Art Media Agency has turned its attention to one question: what is the nature of contemporary drawing, and what issues does it face today? How did you come to drawing? How, by chance or by curiosity, did paper win a place in your life? Through people I met. First, a collector of old drawings, the cofounder of the Salon du Dessin at the Palais de la Bourse, then contemporary-drawing collectors in the context of my duties at the FIAC, working on the Prix Marcel Duchamp. What is the role or maybe even objective of such an event, beyond its commercial setting? The primary role of this fair was to rethink something that seemed problematic to me: gallerists and artists from the young artistic scene only had very few opportunities to be presented on the walls of the existing and dominant fairs. This is why I created this event....

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Drawing Lab, a place for experimentation

Not far from the Louvre, the brand new Drawing Hôtel is home to… the Drawing Lab, a private art centre wholly dedicated to the promotion of contemporary drawing. An encounter with Christine Phal, founder of the Lab and the Drawing Now fair, held at the Carreau du Temple. Until 20 May, the Drawing Lab’s exhibition space is presenting Strings, a show featuring artist Keita Mori, accompanied by curator Gaël Charbau. The drawings, covering the walls and using thread, are projected in the air, stretch out across paper… or else turn into video performance. A subtle art, a metaphor of crossings and migrations, that one could say sums up the evolution of contemporary drawing in the last decade or so. Ever since, that is, the creation of Drawing Now, the fair currently being held in Paris, from 23 to 26 March. Your choice of showing Keita Mori to launch your new venue, the Drawing Lab, is no accident. It reveals how drawing has evolved in recent years. The Drawing Now fair which you’ve been organising since 2007 was quick to integrate this evolution… When I set up the fair, the type of drawing that artists wanted to present tended to be graphic works on paper, and the fair’s configuration was such that most propositions went in this direction. But the evolution of our gaze, of the way in which artists express themselves, and of the relationships that we’ve set up with other venues, have enabled us to move on. I remember that when Carine Tissot (editorial note: her daughter and partner in Drawing Now and Drawing Hôtel, who manages the hôtel – private mansion in French) and I were in New York for the Armory Show in 2009, we discussed the definition of drawing with Brett Littman, director of the Drawing...

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Fair play

There are plenty of art events on in Paris this March: five remarkable fairs and exhibitions a gogo. Everything you need to plan an enthralling itinerary, with stops dedicated to drawing, contemporary African art and design… Are you ready for a suite of springtime fairs? From 30 March to 2 April… It’s THE must event: Art Paris Art Fair, this year welcoming 139 galleries from 29 countries. Half of the exhibitors are from overseas, and the fair has attracted many new faces this year, with 50 % of the participants being new galleries. An unmissable gathering for the art world and the general public, this fair, held at the Grand Palais, allows visitors to discover what’s happening in the art world with an ever-savvy focus on overseas scenes. This year, its general curator, Guillaume Piens, is backed up by exhibition curator and cultural consultant Marie-Ann Yemsi (also to curate the next Bamako Encounters), who has helped to select top galleries from the African continent – including the Maghreb – and its diaspora, most of which are exhibiting for the first time in France at the event. Amongst the twenty or so galleries singled out for this African focus, a few come from very diverse horizons: Uganda is present via the Afriart Gallery from Kampala; there’s also Nigeria, with Art Twenty One based in Lagos; the Ivory Coast is represented by the Fondation Charles Donwahi from Abidjan; not forgetting South Africa, with Whatiftheworld Gallery from Cape Town. The October Gallery from London, representing El Anatsui in particular, and Parisian gallery Magnin-A, namely exhibiting Chéri Samba, present great classics in modern and contemporary African art. Also of note: the solo show accorded to South African artist Kendell Geers by Barcelona-based ADN Galeria. Emerging African creation is also represented by stands in...

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Centre Pompidou: pipe dreams

Delivered by architects Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano in 1977, the Centre Pompidou recently celebrated its 40th birthday. We retrace this museum, social and monumental adventure. An account of the “Pompidou touch”, an example of interdisciplinarity and cultural renown. The 40th birthday of the Centre National d’Art et de Culture Georges-Pompidou, in Paris, is a national event. The Centre Pompidou was quick to become a world icon, a symbol of France’s avant-garde spirit, supported by the French president Georges Pompidou, and known for its once contested architecture, designed by the Italian-British architectural duo, Richard Rogers and Renzo Piano. At the time, some compared the building to a supermarket… “All the better. People won’t be afraid of entering it,” Piano is said to have replied. “Pompidou wanted to reconcile France with the culture of his time, noting that while our country, under the influence of André Malraux, had turned to the arts with conviction, it experienced certain difficulties in taking in more recent innovations from contemporary creation,” observed the museum’s president from 1996 to 2002, Jean-Jacques Aillagon, to Le Figaro. Planted in a once working-class district, coming up with the museum plan, then building it, were real gambles, pulling along with it a few modern and contemporary art galleries, such as the very first one to set up in the area, Daniel Templon, at 30 Rue Beaubourg, in 1972, opposite the gaping hole that awaited the museum at the time. We should mention that on the international avant-garde scene – which was starting to globalise and meet strong competition –, Paris needed a museum to reshuffle the contemporary-art cards. Inaugurated in 1977 with an exhibition on Marcel Duchamp and curated by Jean Clair, the museum, directed by Pontus Hulten from Sweden at the time, put on one themed exhibition after...

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