At the Perrotin gallery, this relationship to time is accompanied by a questioning of the official narratives that have shaped the history of art. “When you take a close look at the exhibits in museums,” explains Arsham, “you realize that our notion of original work needs to be completely rethought. A Greek sculpture from the 7th century BC is influenced by Egyptian art without the artist himself being aware of it. He was able to draw inspiration from it through contributions from other countries. Above all, the way in which we present these pieces in museums as definitive, is pure historical construction. Until the Renaissance, you could very well take a recent bust and attach an antique sculpture head to it. In the case of Venus, the work had always been presented face-on in the museum. And yet specialists recently discovered that it was initially positioned in profile. The image that we all have is an historical accident.”
"The way in which we present these pieces in museums as definitive is pure historical construction." Daniel Arsham
This deconsecrating of art works by putting them into a historical flux in constant motion was also recently demonstrated by Damien Hirst. Who could forget the impressively dramatic return of the British artist into the heart of François Pinault's Venetian museums? His storytelling went like this: in 2008, a team of divers discovered a collection of precious artefacts off the coast of East Africa that had been buried under the water for two thousand years. The exhibition brought together the 100-odd objects that had been found: giant sculptures encrusted with coral, Greek statues, a bronze sphinx, a Buddha, drawings, precious pieces, golden jewellery… Obviously none of it was real. All the pieces, each one as enormous as the project itself, had been made in the artist’s studio. Indeed, among the pieces dredged up from the depths (and there are videos to prove it) were sculptures of Mickey Mouse and a Transformer robot…
We recently saw this iconoclastic dimension in the work of Francesco Vezzoli who explained to Numéro art that he takes “blasphemous approach”.
Damien Hirst, just like Daniel Arsham, draws not only from a repertoire of historical artistic forms but both artists have also penetrated domains reserved for historians and scientists to explode all sacred certitudes relative to art. We recently saw this iconoclastic dimension in the work of Francesco Vezzoli who explained to Numéro art that he takes a “blasphemous approach by buying original antique pieces from auctions that are then painted in the colours that they supposedly had originally.” (The pieces presented in the Collection Lambert in Avignon in 2018).
For several years, Ali Cherri has been focusing on the place of the archaeological object in the construction of historical narratives. Archaeological objects, vases or sculptures, that the Lebanese artist also bought from auction houses, are then recomposed and reassembled. A paradoxical gesture that deconsecrates the ancient object and decontextualises it to question its value. Why do we value such an object? What does this valorisation of the archaeological object say about ancient times, about our times? How does it take part in constructing a national history? With Ali Cherri, Damien Hirst, Francesco Vezzoli and Damien Arsham, the past context is always confronted the present context... to reveal it all the more.
“3020” de Daniel Arsham, à la galerie Perrotin, Paris, jusqu'au 21 mars 2020.