With Choices Paris, contemporary-art galleries are exhibiting at the École des Beaux-Arts
From 29 to 31 May, 40 Parisian galleries are opening their doors for Choices Paris Collectors Weekend, which also features an exhibition at the École des Beaux-Arts curated by Alfred Pacquement, former director of the French Musée National d’Art Moderne.
For its second edition, once again directed by Marion Papillon (associate director of the Galerie Claudine Papillon), Choices Paris Collectors Weekend will see 40 Parisian galleries opening their doors to the public in area stretching from Belleville to Saint-Germain. With the addition this year of several prestigious galleries – Air de Paris, Laurent Godin, Mitterrand, Nathalie Obadia, Praz-Delavallade and, of course, Thaddaeus Ropac – this second edition looks set to be even more successful than the first.
The École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts is also taking part by hosting an exhibition of 40 artists chosen by each of the galleries… in other words exactly the kind of public/private partnership that upsets some people at the school. But Nicolas Bourriaud, director of the Beaux-Arts, has insisted, rightly so, pointing out that artists today cannot ignore the world of commercial galleries or the financial side of the profession. Alfred Pacquement, former director of both the Musée National d’Art Moderne and the École des Beaux-Arts, talked to Numéro about the show, which he curated.
Numéro: What will the public discover in your exhibition at the École des Beaux-Arts?
Alfred Pacquement: The challenge was to show the work of 40 artists, each of whom was chosen by their gallery, without any coordination between them. So 40 very different personalities. We didn’t try to create artificial links, like grouping artists from non-Western countries – it would have been too easy and superficial. Above all the show demonstrates the very rich offer to be found in Paris’s galleries, which are open both to the international scene and to very young artists. They’re not confined to a small, French field of action, but have a real global dynamism.
What was the overall ambition of this group show? Did any particular trends emerge?
Alfred Pacquement: In the first place we wanted to celebrate the diversity of the work chosen, which ranges from historic pieces by Kupka (Galerie Le Minotaure) and Le Corbusier (Galerie Zlotowski) right up to the youngest contemporary artists like Julien Prévieux (Galerie Jousse Entreprise, winner of the 2014 Marcel Duchamp Prize) or Oliver Beer (Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac). But trends appear nonetheless, such as certain current developments with respect to abstract painting or, at the opposite end of the scale, painting that looks towards the outside world to the point of making a social statement. Likewise, we brought together Alain Fleischer’s projections (Galerie Françoise Paviot) and Éric Rondepierre’s photographic work (Galerie Isabelle Gounod) because both of them consider the relationship to the cinematic image. But it would be pretentious to draw any firm conclusions about the direction of art today from these 40 artists.
Were there any artists you discovered or rediscovered?
Alfred Pacquement: I hadn’t been in touch with Robert Grosvenor, who was chosen by the Galerie Max Hetzler, for a very long time. I was thrilled to see his name on the list, and was very glad to reconnect with his work. Grosvenor produced a sort of branch of Minimalism, using much more diverse materials than most of the orthodox Minimalist artists. I find his most recent work, including the spectacular sculpture we’re showing, rather baroque in character. As is often the case, older artists take much greater liberties with respect to their initial principles – the surprises don’t always come from where you’d expect them.
By Thibaut Wychowanok