Archive for September, 2010

Murakami’s joyous figurines cause frowns in Versailles

September 30, 2010

The ultimate Happy Exhibition has just begun. Takashi Murakami (born in Tokyo in 1962), the third living artist of our era to be invited to show his work in the luxurious halls and chambers of the palace of Versailles, is displaying his Manga inspired, brightly colored neo-pop sculptures until December 12th, 2010. Unsurprisingly, many people are frowning about it. As good ol’ Jean Paul Sartre said back in 1940, “So rare is the happy man nowadays that he must explain his sentiment: he talks about color to the blind.”

Indeed, in Versailles today bright colors, twirly rococo and shiny surfaces spell s-o-p-h-i-s-t-i-c-a-t-i-o-n and “h-e-r-i-t-a-g-e” as long as it was made three or four hundred years ago. But god forbid any glitzy material from the new millenium is displayed and it’s immediately trashed as “outrageously-commercial-totally-vacuous-market-driven-kitsch”.

Maybe. Who am I to say?

But, if there’s one thing I’ve learned so far is that you gotta scratch the surface … to get to the smell.
(Ha ha, scratch ‘n sniff, get it?)


Inside his head: Antoine de Galbert

September 30, 2010

Contemporary art collector Antoine de Galbert inaugurated his foundation’s art space, Maison Rouge (“red house”), in 2004 with a very “intimate” exhibition. “L’intime, le collectionneur derrière la porte” (“The intimate, the collector behind closed doors”) showed not only extracts of a number of private collections, but actually recreated the spaces in which the artworks were usually kept. Thanks to this innovative exhibition concept, the general public had a chance to stroll through one person’s reconstructed hallway hung with Pistolettos, peek into another collector’s toilet and view one of Richard Kern’s erotic shots, marvel at another’s audacity to sleep in a four-poster bed with mounted video cameras ready to record and wonder who the man might be who prefers to store all his artworks and preciously holds onto his list of them – a little bit like Don Giovanni’s famous list of mille e tre lovers.

In 2004, the art market was going al crescendo, Art Basel was at it’s most glorious and people were increasingly curious about the phenomenon of The Collector, or to be more precise The Contemporary Art Collector. At just that moment Antoine de Galbert very generously opened his doors.

Today, he’s opening his head. “Voyage dans ma tête” (June 12th – September 26th, 2010) shows very little contemporary art and focusses instead on de Galbert’s collection of ethnic headdresses. Finely woven Asian brides’ veils, eagle-feathered Indian warbonnets, colorfully crafted African hats and ominous-looking shamans’ accessories are thus displayed at the Maison Rouge, a space usually dedicated to contemporary art.

For the first time since opening his space in the Bastille area, the general public is thus allowed a glimpse of a truly intimate side of the Maison Rouge’s patron.

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