ART(ISTS) APPRECIATION AGGREGATION October 2022
a round-up of sorts
Admittedly, a bit of a tortured alliteration, but I haven’t been writing much for the past few years, so it might be a while before I’ll come up with more elaborate post titles again. Wordsmithing, like any art, is a practice, and my writing wherewithals have withered waway.
So, what’s the idea behind these hopefully recurring AAA posts? I go to a lot of exhibitions, art and otherwise, and if you follow me on Instagram, you know that I tend to just dumb all the pictures I take there in stories. I sometimes try to make an effort and link to artists if they’re still with us and on IG, but most of the times it’s literally a photo dump. I can’t be bothered to spend any more time on something that disappears after 24 hours and only very few people look at. It’s a shame though, because I do come across fantastic artists all the time and reading up on one quite often leads to the discovery of another, or the unearthing of an interesting interview or article, or an unexpected encounter with a book or podcast or who knows what. So I figured I might as well share my finds in the hope that someone else might enjoy some of them too, and if not so that I have a little record for myself. Therefore, without further ado, my art finds of October.
#1 Salon des Beaux Arts
This year’s Salon des Beaux Arts took place in the Orangerie du Sénat in the Jardin du Luxembourg over the course of two long weekends at the end of September and beginning of October (the venue is smaller than the Carrousel du Louvre where it took place in the past, so they split the exhibition into two parts). It wasn’t my first visit to the Salon, but I’m thinking about trying to get some of my own work in there next year, and since it’s both a juried and an exhibition you have to pay for, I went there specifically asking myself Would I want to pay for this or not? And the answer is Yes! The question of when, if ever, and how much to pay for exhibitions comes up quite often and might be the subject of a future newsletter (At least that’s the plan. What do you think?)
#2 Déstructuralisme Figuratif International Art Collective
A brilliant, little exhibition of the DF Collective in Pavillion 18 of the Parc Floral de Paris (October 01 -10) with lots of collage work by, amongst others, my friend Isabelle Milkoff and the New York Collage Ensemble. I’m not sure if this is a recurring event, but if it is, I can only recommend it. It’s a bit out of the way (technically outside of Paris, see also #3 below), and artists are asked to contribute a little to cover the costs, but because it’s run by a non-profit (like the Salon des Beaux Arts) art collective worth it for whatever my opinion is worth and if worth is the right word to use (three times in one sentence).
#3 Salon de Montrouge
As always, overly conceptual and trying too hard, which is my verdict of the Salon de Montrouge and not the artists on show. I live in Montrouge, which is just outside the périphérique, the ring road that defines what’s truly Paris and what’s not. We’re part of Paris when it wants to compete in numbers with London or New York - without us it has a population of just over two million, with us of just over ten - and we’re not part of Paris the rest of time. The Salon, unfortunately, tries very hard to be something it isn’t, I don’t even know what, something you’d see in Paris I would guess, but never really succeeds. The artists on display are not bad but almost everything else around it unfortunately is. Confusing curation, layout, catalogue and labelling. Free to attend though, so if you’re around for it next year, it’s still worth the visit.
#4 Paris+ par Art Basel
I’m sure most of you have heard of Art Basel, the potentially biggest and oldest, I'm not sure, contemporary art fair there is. My first visit to an art fair actually was Basel more than fifteen years ago, and my impressionable 15-20 years younger self loved it (my feet didn’t, but they weren’t complaining yet). I went fairly regularly for many years, often splurging on a weekend pass because there was simply too much to see for one day. All this too say that I have very fond memories of the Art Basel, formative years, impressionable little me, yada yada, so please keep this in mind when you read me gushing over Paris+ par Art Basel. I’m biased.
After Basel, Miami Beach and Hong Kong there is now Paris+ par Art Basel. Yes, that’s the official name, Paris+ par Art Basel, undoubtedly a nod to the French need to be special. It took place in the Grand Palais Éphémère, the regular Grand Palais undergoing major renovation. At 40€ for the day ticket (I don’t remember the price for the full weekend ticket but at well over 100€ this was a no go) it’s pricy but still worth it. To me. With Art Basel you know what you get. Outstanding very contemporary art plus all the big names of the 20th century in one go. Like ALL of them. There were both a Francis Bacon and a Georg Baselitz painting that I had seen at the Pompidou not that long before. There were two Kurt Schwitters and a few small John Baldessaris. On sale. That sounds wrong. Available for purchase… if you have a few extra millions lying around (only around 10k for the Baldessaris, a real steal).
I’m not impressed per se by numbers like this. I actually have very mixed feelings about the secondary (!) art market (that I’m not getting into right now, but I thought I’d point out their existence at least.) But I can’t help but feel a little, I don’t know, impressed, in awe, put off, in the presence of all this big-name art in one place, and people both willing and (!) capable of buying it. And there was soooo much of it. After almost five hours I was ready to fake a fainting spell so that somebody would wheel me out of there and give me a ride home. My feet were about to go on strike, and my lower back was ready to quit its job for good.
Anyhow, these very vague feelings of awe and out-of-place-ness in the presence of very, very expensive art, its creators, vendors and potential buyers are probably worth examining. Because I should and do know better and more about the inherent absurdity, randomness and unfairness of the art market now than I did 15-20 years ago. Still, the awe and unease remain, together with equal amounts of insecurity and arrogance when talking to gallery people. A lot of them (some are lovely) have the looking-down-their-noses haughtiness down to a T, but then again, if they had any talent, they’d create art themselves rather than selling it, wouldn’t they. Well, you get the picture. Point. The picture would most likely be too expensive.
To make a long story short, I loved it, and I’m glad that Art Basel signed a multi-year contract with the city of Paris and will be back. I discovered too many new to me artists to share them all, and the ones I think I absolutely need to tell everybody about change every day. So I won’t even try.
1 Ron Mueck | 2 Etienne Chambaud | 3 + 4 still trying to track down the names, I swear I wrote them down somewhere… | 5 John Baldessari (I have to admit I would love to have one of those!) | 6 + 9 Alvaro Barrington (turn down the volume if you’re looking at his site at work or in public) | 7 Hilary Balu | 8 Annette Messager
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