Galeries Lafayette and Artist Collaborations

New Anticipations in Paris

 

 

The art news coming from Paris during the past month has been filled with descriptions of the new art center that the Galeries Lafayette has opened in the Marais district.

“Anticipations,” as it is called, is meant to cover the broad scope of expectations —from the anticipation of what new work could be created next, to the Fondation Galeries Lafayette’s attempt to anticipate artists’ needs, and even to the larger notion of anticipating the future of the planet.  According to Guillaume Houzé, the President of Galeries Lafayette, the combination of retail and art has been part of the retail company since it was founded by his great-grandfather, Theophile Bader, 106 years ago.


“Only creation can consider the movement of an era in its diversity and thus carry us continually to new horizons.”   Guillaume Houzé

“We created the Galeries Lafayette Corporate Foundation as a tool for advancing the conversation in our era and participating in the major social debates through the applied and visual arts. Guillaume Houzé


What makes this artcenter different from Paris’s many other foundations is its commitment to showing new work as well as its interdisciplinary focus. When the Galeries Lafayette was founded 120 years ago, it was a time when all the disciplines including design, arts and crafts, and applied art were seen as more fluid. Accordingly, the foundation will be offering the  opportunity for designers, artists, performers, and fashion creators to mix disciplines and processes, as part of a general inquiry into the practices of creation — which will  lead to a better understanding of contemporary times.

The facade of the original building has been preserved.

The Fondation d’Entreprise Galeries Lafayette, run by the French retail chain, commissioned Rem Koolhaas to renovate the historical building at 9 rue du Plâtre, that will be headquarters for the foundation’s cultural arm. The Marais building was erected in 1891 by the architect Samuel Mejot de Dammartin.

Not disturbing the exterior of the 19th century structure, Koolhaas and his firm OMA converted its central courtyard into a steel and glass exhibition tower, fitted with a mobile flooring system that offers 875 square meters of flexible exhibition space. The four independently moving platforms can be rearranged in more than forty different configurations depending on the project, and a 350-square-meter production workshop in the basement offers a space for guest artists to conceive and create work.

Lafayette Anticipations plans three or four exhibitions a year, along with conferences and performances. “The public will discover new works by international creators from the fields of contemporary art, design and fashion,” according to Houzé.

Every three years, the foundation plans to invite guest curators from abroad. On the Lafayette Anticipations curatorial team is Charles Aubin, a French curator based in New York who is also involved with Performa; Anna Colin, an independent curator based in the UK; and the Dutch-Moroccan curator Hicham Khalidi.

The foundation’s managing director, François Quintin, previously worked as curator of contemporary art at the Fondation Cartier, and for seven years headed a contemporary art center in the French regions, FRAC de Champagne-Ardenne. He also directed the commercial gallery Xippas for three years. 

The inaugural exhibit by artist Lutz Bacher (the US conceptual artist’s first exhibition in France) was conceived specifically for the entire building, highlighting the verticality of the building, exploring the structure’s symbolic elevation, and focusing in particular on the central void constructed by its architect.

The exhibition, “The Silence of the Sea,” is an architectural intervention involving sound, light and transparent films, focused on the surfaces of the building such as window reflections and bare walls.  The title references a novel written by a member of the French Resistance during World War II, which was secretly published in German-occupied Paris and is now a major text of French literature. (until April 30),

Space for Visiting Artists

On the lowest level is an experimental production workshop that provides a space for guest artists to work on new projects. The Foundation supplies tools to support their creation, production and dissemination. Artists can apply to use this workshop where works can be fabricated. Acccoding to Houzé “Artists can work here and show them in the building, or show them elsewhere. Between 2013 and 2016, we did a lot of co-production with other institutions such as the Tate in London and the New Museum in New York.”

The Corporate Art Collection

The Lafayette collection, known as the Fonds de dotation Famille Moulin, is not going to be displayed in the Marais space. The Fonds de dotation, which operates as a separate entity, has acquired more than 300 pieces by artists such as Anne Imhof and Wu Tsang.

 


 

 

Constitutional Court Art Collection

How Art is Defining the Role of the Constitution and Justice in South Africa.

Art and justice are usually represented as dwelling in different domains: art is said to relate to the human heart, justice to human intelligence. Rationality is sometimes seen as inimical to art, and passion as hostile to justice. The Constitution Court Art Collection shows how art and human rights overlap and reinforce each other. At the core of the Bill of Rights and of the artistic endeavor represented in the Court is respect for human dignity. It is this that unites art and justice.”
Former Constitutional Court Justice Albie Sachs

An inspiring and poignant  collection of over 400 artworks has been formed in South Africa’s Constitutional Court.  More than an aesthetic addition to the Constitutional Court building; it is a unique collection of South African and international heritage that contributes to education, critical debate, and research on the roles of the Constitution and the Court.

The themes of the artworks.are connected to the Constitution in some way and all contribute to the Court’s special environment.  Media include tapestries, engravings, sculptures and paintings — also included are examples of bead-work and craft objects. Some are landscapes, abstract works, portraits that honor working people, others evoke the past or celebrate new beginnings, and the works of local artists predominate. . All were gifts to the highest court in South Africa, and are a tribute to the Constitution and its values.

Dozens of leading South African artists are represented in the collection.  There are large tapestries by Marlene Dumas, a selection by Gerard Sekoto from his Paris period, and drawings and a major sculpture by Dumile Feni. Other artists represented include  William Kentridge, Judith Mason, Willie Bester, Karel Nel, Cecil Skotnes, Hamilton Budaza, Kim Berman, Sue Williamson, Anton van Wouw, John Baloyi, Andrew Verster, Marc Chagall, and many others.

“Every day, as we try to answer difficult questions concerning fundamental human rights, the moving works of art and uplifting design of our building constantly remind us of what should never be forgotten: that justice is for people and that all people are united in their inherent human dignity.                    Former Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Pius Langa

The collection was assembled from the beginning of the Constitutional Court in 1994.   Justice Albie Sachs was appointed with his colleague  Justice Yvonne Mokgoro to take charge of decor when the Court was housed in a rented space. 

Justice Sachs was one of the founding judges of the Constitutional Court and he devoted himself to the challenge with passion and dedication — taking nearly 10 years to gather the pieces..  The Court’s original decorating  budget, the sum of R 10 000, was used to purchase a single work – Humanity, a tapestry .by Joseph Ndlovu.  The other acquisitions were donations from artists, gallery owners and patrons of the arts. 

Fund raising for the project has been difficult because the collection is governed  by the Constitutional Court Trust, which  is prevented from receiving  funding from entities that might have a possibility of future litigation before the Constitutional Court.  As a result this therefore precluded many local foundations and charities, since they are linked to corporations active in South Africa.

Judge Sachs went on a speaking tour of the United States to raise additional funds and contributions were also received from the Dutch and Finnish governments, the Getty Foundation and others. Some projects, such as Artists for Human Rights, donated artworks.  There were also a large number of art commissions. 

My hope is that this spirit of shared humanity, so clearly conveyed by the Court’s collection, will continue to inspire judges and ordinary people alike in our collective pursuit of justice”
Former Chief Justice of the Constitutional Court, Pius Langa

 

Key artworks in the Constitutional Court collection include:

The Man Who Sang and the Woman Who Kept Silent by Judith Mason. Often referred to as the “Blue Dress”, this is one of the collection’s most powerful works. The triptych was inspired by the execution of two liberation movement cadres by the security police – Phila Ndwandwe and Harald Sefola, whose deaths during the struggle were described at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) by their killers.

 Prison Sentences by ​Willem Boshoff. These eight slabs are made from Zimbabwean black granite and inscribed with the tally of days served behind bars by the Rivonia trialists who were sentenced to life in prison in 1964.

Nine Body Maps. This series of intimate self-portraits is the result of a community art project that gave those suffering from HIV and AIDS a platform to express their experiences of living with the disease.

 The Three Sentinels. Standing outside the building at three different corners are three sculptures referred to as ‘the three sentinels’. Adjacent to the building’s main entrance is History by Dumile Feni, a large bronze sculpture (based on a smaller clay artwork from 1987) that reminds visitors of the brutality of the master-slave relationship.

The South African flag. One of the most impressive features of the court chamber is the 6m by 2.5m intricately beaded and embroidered South African flag. The flag was hand-stitched over a period of six months by a group of women from KwaZulu-Natal. On completion of the work their names were also embroidered onto the flag in recognition of indigenous craftsmanship as a form of art.

“The building design expresses high hope for, and abiding faith in a united and democratic Sough Africa able to take its rightful place as a soveirgn state in the family of nations..  The Constitution, Court building and artwork share an animating theme:  Everyone has inherent dignity and the right to have their dignity respected and protected.  The art displayed in the Court is a perfect match for the buildings design.  .The collection affords the visitor, and all who work at the Court, a moving and delightful impression at every step and turn. Imbued with the spirit of emancipated humanity, it is the most vibrant collection I have seen in any courthouse in the world”
– US Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Humanity, by Joseph Ndlovu, 1995, fiber

The Court, a potent representation of the democracy that replaced apartheid, was erected on the ruins of the Old Fort, a notorious prison that housed political activists including Mohandas Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, and many others — and its location symbolizes the triumph of hope over a troubled past.

The symbolic importance of its setting was constantly in the forefront during the planning process and helped to refine the architectural plan of the project. The design brief stipulated that the building have meaning and significance to the evolving national cultural identity.of South Africa.

Artists and craftspeople were invited to participate in the building’s make-up by submitting proposals for individual elements many of the building components were conceptualized and customized by individual craftspeople.

A pdf brochure about the collection is available on the website http://ccac.org.za/

Touring the Constitutional Court of South Africa with Justice Albie Sachs. A video that explores the history, creation and art of the Constitutional Court is available on youtube at    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bSH7ToW1NsM&t=1093s

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Unusual Sculpture Commission in Lyon: Gustave, the Red Stegosaurus

Gustaveweb1-1024x682Figuring prominently in the entry lobby of the former Citroen Garage in Lyon is a colorful and impressive steel sculpture of a Stegosaurus, known as Gustave. This beautifully engineered and balanced work of recycled car parts was the result of an unusual series of collaborations in France’s second city, Lyon.

How did this adventure begin?

According to an interview with the sculptor, during the fall of 2014 he was approached to do an artist residency at the Lycee Fernand Forest. The project was to create a structure for the festival “Urban Foods” scheduled for May 2015, and to be in Saint Priest a small municipality to the south of Lyon.

Lycees, are a rough equivalent of American high schools, and the teachers at the lycee became interested in the project and support grew for the idea  When the town of Saint Priest saw the plans and site, they agreed to finance the materials.

Gustave weighs 1600 kg, is 8 meters long and 4 meters high, and uses 140 meters of steel tube. Made up of different pieces of car bodies and parts. Ultimately, 50 students learning metalworking, and supervised by 5 teachers worked for several months on the project.

DSC04206-830x552The recycled parts came from a collaboration with Carrosserie Gambetta, located in Fontaines sur Saone. They were enthusiastic about the project and many car doors and hoods, truck doors were assembled. Lardanchet, also had in his stock, 24 Yamaha motorcycle bumpers that were placed on side of the dinosaur’s backbone. Finally, while browsing in the school, he proposed using the work that students made for their BAC pro the year before, which were then destined for scrap. These were turned into the row of plates on Gustave’s back.

Why did Lardanchet choose a stegosaurus? According to the sculptor, “the stegosaurus is probably one of the best known of the dinosaurs, and its silhouette is easily recognizable. It was a friendly, peaceful dinosaur, but sufficiently well equipped and impressive to not be bothered without good reason.”

Gustaveweb2-1024x683

After travels to several sites in Lyon, the impressive Gustave is now located in the entry lobby of the building formerly known as the Citroen Garage.

Citroen-6eme-Sens-Immobilier2015ok-copieThe Citroen Garage is a superb example of Art Deco functionalist architecture. Built between 1930 – 1932 by Maurice-Jacques Ravazé, architect of Citroën SA. it is similar to the work done for the large American factories of the time. Of the 20 branches built by André Citroën throughout France, this one on Marseille Street in Lyon is the most monumental. With its 535 meter facade, important corner turrets, and the 6 levels connected by one-way ramps, it is a superb example of the period’s functionalist architecture.

The renovation and redesign of the Citroen building was one of the important architectural projects unveiled in France during 2015. Listed as a historical monument since 1992, this “concrete and glass ship” was completely renovated beginning in 2011.

citroen-garage-lyon-france_33T1Andre Gustave Citroen, an early pioneer in the automobile industry, directed the building of this immense structure — 130 meters long and 52 meters wide, containing 6000 square meters of windows and having a surface area of 500 m2 on 5 floors.

Designed by Maurice Jacques Ravaze, who directed Citroen’s architectural design department from 1923 to 1934, it was known as the largest “service station” in the world. The reinforced concrete support pillars face the Rue Marseille and the Rue de l’Universite in Lyon’s 7th district. Two immense rows of windows showed the latest models of the Citroen brand.

In 2011 Peugeot-Citroen sponsored a competition for plans to renovate and rework the immense space. Sud Architectes of Lyon, and Cecile Remond, the architect responsible for French historical monuments, took over the project and acquired the building, becoming the owner of the larger part of the ground floor, and the floors were redesigned for use as offices. Alep Architects and Sud Architectes managed the project. The project maintained the Citroen dealership on the ground floor.

From then on, the project became known as the “New Deal” retaining the creativity and original designs of Maurice-Jacques Ravaze, Jean Prouve and Andre Citroen.

A complex project it required an investment of 33 million euros, the assistance of 22 bureaux d’etudes, the collaboration of the Conservation Regionale des Monuments Historiques, des Services Territoriaux e l’Architecture et du Patrimoine (STAP), the intervention of 8 architects (3 architects from Buildings of France), constant oversight on the construction site of 6 engineers and the “know how” of 250 people.

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