The list of major donors to French museums lengthens: to the Marcie-Rivière, Jacqueline Delubac and Pierre and Denise Lévy are now added Spencer and Marlene Hays. The Texan couple are about to give 187 works to the Musée d’Orsay. Remarkable for its consistency and high quality, the Hays collection shows their passion for the artists of the Pont-Aven School and the Nabis. The perfect example of a self-made man, Spencer Hays, like his wife Marlene, comes from humble origins. He began his career selling books from door to door. He is now head of a powerful textile and media group. These self-taught collectors bought their first pieces in the early 70s, focusing on American artists first, such as Childe Hassam and then on French art, their favourites being Vuillard and Bonnard. They soon gathered a large collection of masterpieces: the bold composition of The Red Bush by Odilon Redon echoes the Woman washing her back with a sponge by Degas (bought for over $3 million in November 2011 at Christie’s New York), while the stunning Still life with melon by Fantin-Latour perfectly complements The Lobster by Caillebotte. This first donation estimated at €173 million comprises of the 187 works shown during the exhibition held at the Musée d’Orsay in 2013 and entitled Une Passion Française (A French Passion). Guy Cogeval, the curator of this exhibition, met the collectors in 2011, when he was head of the Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal and was preparing a retrospective on Edouard Vuillard. He managed to establish strong ties with the couple so they chose a French museum instead of an American one, with the assurance that the collection would be studied and respected thanks to the inalienability of the art works donated to French museums. The terms of this donation are clear; the works will be presented in a dedicated area: The First Steps by Vuillard, the seventh panel of The Public Gardens, will therefore be separated from the five panels that are already part of the Musée d’Orsay collection. The couple, however, has agreed for the works to be lent to other museums, with the exception of those that are too fragile. They retain the usufruct of the rest of their collection also on its way to the Parisian institution, i.e. nearly 600 works of similar quality to this donation.
Every year, the Hays indeed offer each other a major work of art on their birthday. The Musée d’Orsay, like the art market, will therefore be on edge around July 14th and December 7th…
The history of the Perrotin Gallery is without precedent among major French galleries. No other gallery owner before him has ever been offered the nave of the Grand Palais in Paris only to use just a few square metres of it. This took place last September with the 24 hour installation by artist duo Michael & Ingar ELMGREEN & DRAGSET, which was exhibited as a foretaste for the Perrotin stand on the first day of the FIAC art fair (last October). This expensive and provocative publicity stunt created quite a stir in the art market. After the FIAC had ended, the Perrotin gallery returned to centre stage by announcing last week the upcoming opening of a new gallery in Tokyo. The expansion thus continues with the third Perrotin gallery in Asia, the first having opened in May 2012 in Hong Kong in a space of 650m2 at 50, Connaught Road Central, and the second in June 2016 in Seoul. This international opening supports Perrotin’s presence in Asia, as well as the visibility of major Asian artists in Paris and New York, where he also owns exceptional exhibition spaces. And what artists! Takashi Murakami, Aya Takano, Mr., Chen Fei, Chung Chang-Sup, Park Seo-Bo, Xu Zhen and Bharti Kher, to name but a few. As legend has it, Emmanuel Perrotin began his art dealer career by exhibiting in the apartment he rented when still in his twenties. He used to hide his mattress when a client appeared. But his talent for discovering promising artists was already undeniable: he was indeed the first to exhibit Damien HIRST‘s work in France. Soon after, in 1993, he was also the first to show Takashi MURAKAMI‘s work outside Japan.
Dubuffet. Jean des villes, Jean des champs is a short exhibition organised in partnership with the Dubuffet Foundation, which comprises of a dozen works by the founder of Art Brut (until January 8th, 2017). The paintings are displayed in three zones. First the landscapes, then the still lifes treated as landscapes, and finally the characters, all created between 1949 and 1982, after the artist founded « La Compagnie de l’art brut » (1948) and wrote his essay « Art Brut in Preference to the Cultural Arts » (1949).
It is not the first Jean DUBUFFET exhibition organised by the LaM (Musée Lille art Métropole), a museum dedicated to Modern and Contemporary Art, as well as Art Brut in Lille. 10 years ago, just before it closed for renovation (in 2006), the museum organised a landmark retrospective called Dubuffet et l’art brut that attracted over 66,000 visitors. In France, the LaM is the only museum to have a department dedicated to Art Brut, alongside its Modern and Contemporary Art departments. The « artists » from the Art Brut movement come from an « unusual » background, « outside of any artistic culture », as defined by Dubuffet in his theory about Art Brut written in the middle of the 20th century. The LaM has become a reference for this movement, especially alongside the Lausanne museum in Switzerland, to which Dubuffet had donated 4,000 works from his own collection in 1971. The LaM now boasts the largest collection of Art Brut in France thanks to the donation by the L’Aracine association, whose members have travelled the world for 10 years, visiting hospitals, private collections and auction houses in order to buy, as cheaply as possible, works by the biggest names in Art Brut, in which there was little interest until recently. Comprising of over 4,000 works by 170 French and foreign artists, the L’Aracine donation allows the LaM to boast major works by Aloïse Corbaz, Henry Darger, Madge Gill, Augustin Lesage, André Robillard, Scottie Wilson and Adolf Wölfli, to name but a few.
The Monnaie de Paris hosts the largest retrospective of the artist ever organised in Europe. Maurizio CATTELAN, an artist full of surprises, indeed still has something to say. The All retrospective held at the Guggenheim Museum in New York in 2011 was to be his last exhibition before retiring from the art world. For this carefully staged farewell event, he chose to suspend all the works he had produced for the last 20 years in the entrance hall of the museum. The exhibition at the Monnaie de Paris offers a new point of view on twenty of his most iconic art works, without any chronology or order. Right from the beginning, the tone is set through a carefully designed staging using the unique architecture of the Parisian townhouse. The artist claims he is Not afraid of love, the both disturbing and contradictory title of the exhibition, which, like his work, is more about death than love. « One could say it’s a « post requiem exhibition« . As in Poe’s short story, I pretend to be dead, but I can still see and hear what’s happening around me »: the installation made of a figure in his image emerging from the wooden floor is the perfect illustration of this. Among the works on display, visitors can also discover the famous installation Nona Ora representing a life-size wax sculpture of the late Pope John Paul II hit by a meteorite. The artist returns with a bang in this exhibition curated by Chiara Parisi while reaching the Top 10 of the highest auction prices for contemporary art this year worldwide with Him, which sold for over $17 million at Christie’s on May 8th, and that closes this exhibition with a certain irony. Such a record shows that Maurizio Cattelan has never truly been away from the art world or the art market.