The jury was impressed by the originality of Fréchuret’s approach, contributing a new reading of the notion of “erasure” as an artistic gesture. The prize honors Fréchuret’s long career as art historian, curator, and museum director, while also saluting the work of Les Presses du Réel, a French independent publishing house founded in 1992 by Xavier Douroux and Franck Gautherot.
Incipit — Erasing, in art, is a process of correction or modification. Commonly associated with remorse, erasure can express a blunder or a mistake, designating the work as weak or inadequate. In politics or advertising, erasure is undeniably tied to lies and dissimulation. For decades, history has presented us with one example after the next of these fraudulent interventions, aiming to correct its course. Yet, throughout the twentieth century and still today, artists have turned to this fundamentally negative action, transforming it into a practice that opens new avenues for exploration. By erasing, working backwards, they have enriched artistic creation. From Robert Rauschenberg’s historic 1953 gesture of erasing a drawing by Willem de Kooning to exemplary works by Marcel Broodthaers, Claudio Parmiggiani, Roman Opalka, and Gerhard Richter, along with more recent examples by Hiroshi Sugimoto, Ann Hamilton, Jochen Gerz, Félix González-Torres, and artists of the current generation, such as Zhang Huan or Estafanía Penafiel Loaíza: Fréchuret examines all these examples and more, leading us to reconsider this paradoxical gesture and to understand it henceforth as a veritable artistic practice.
Maurice Fréchuret, Effacer. Paradoxe d’un geste artistique, Dijon, Les Presses du Réel, Collection « Dedalus », 2016.
“These four lines, which have become gradually illegible beneath the rain and the dust, and which are, to-day, probably effaced […]”
Victor Hugo, Les Misérables
Maurice Fréchuret began his career at the Saint-Etienne Museum of Modern Art, France, where he was a curator from 1986 to 1993; he then occupied the same role at the Picasso Museum in Antibes from 1993 to 2001. He was the director of the CAPC Museum of Contemporary Art in Bordeaux from 2001 to 2006, when he was appointed director of national museums of twentieth-century art for the Alpes-Maritimes region, a role he occupied until 2014. Alongside his work as a curator and professor, he is the author of numerous essays on art.
For the 2016 edition, the jury was composed of:
Former Minister of Culture
Luca Massimo Barbero
Art historian, director of the Fondazione Giorgio Cini’s Institute of Art History, curator for the Peggy Guggenheim Collection
Laurence Bertrand Dorléac
Art historian, publisher, university lecturer, director of the Laboratoire Arts et société de Sciences-Po (Arts and Society Laboratory of Political Science)
Journalist, former director of France Culture
Deputy Director of the National Museum of Modern Art – Centre Pompidou
Laurent Le Bon
President of the National Picasso Museum in Paris
President of AM Conseil, essayist
Academic, Director of the Picasso Museum in Münster
Former Director of the National Museum of Modern Art – Centre Pompidou
Historian and academic (University Paris-Est Créteil-Val de Marne)