A few dozen pigeons by Maurizio Cattelan, perch on the balustrades, watching visitors from the heights of the Rotunda; Ryan Gander’s animatronic mouse chatters incessantly in front of the elevators; Lili Reynaud Dewar dances in the hallway leading to the 18th-century stairs, and Tatiana Trouvé’s “guardians” watch over the works exhibited in the gallery spaces. The inaugural exhibition at the Bourse de Commerce also strives to highlight the relationship that artists can have with an exhibition space, their relationship to a museum and its visitors, through works that can be situated outside of the museographic framework. They are located here in the venue’s thoroughfares and passageways, under the dome and at the top of the Medici’ Column, surprising visitors.
The wish to foster a dialogue between artworks and their architectural, natural and urban context is indeed one of the key features associated with the identity of the museums in the Pinault Collection. In Venice, the marbles and painted ceilings of the Palazzo Grassi, and the brick walls and beams of the Punta della Dogana, interact with the changing reflections of the water. These non-standard elements, which one might have suspected of interfering or even compromising the presentation of the artworks, is, on the contrary, a source of inspiration for the artists. The environment also provides visitors with a unique, contextualized art experience, in the “here and now”.
A polymorphic artist, sculptor, performer, editor and programmer, Maurizio Cattelan has made a name for himself, thanks to a production whose spectacular forms highlight the contradictions of contemporary society. Others (2011), the disturbing squadron of stuffed pigeons, posted on the interior balconies of the third floor of the Bourse de Commerce is a perfect example: “more real than real life”, these motionless creatures arouse a mixture of surprised bemusement and “strange anxiety”. They are stationed there like an alert, a sign of something potentially sinister to come. Yet, their presence is already slightly unnerving.
If he weren’t already a major player on the contemporary art scene, Maurizio Cattelan, adept at paradox, provocation and savage irony, could pass himself off as an artist on the fringes and with a good dose of humour to boot! Born in Padua in 1960, he lives and works between Milan and New York.
“Humour is a way of communicating that overcomes the barrier of shyness.” With his “Z” paintings series (1995-1996), he playfully subverted the work of conceptual artist Lucio Fontana via a series of monochrome canvases that he cut with a Z, in reference to Zorro. With Nona Ora (Ninth Hour, 1999), he presented a life-size sculpture of Pope John Paul II, crushed by a meteorite. Him (2001) represents an infantilized Hitler, and plays with the banality of absolute evil. Untitled (2007) is an inverted hunting trophy of a horse with its head stuck in the brick wall of the Punta della Dogana, and is yet another example of Cattelan’s surprising, disturbing, humorous and devastating play on reality.
Author of a multifaceted body of work, Ryan Gander (b. 1976 in Chester, UK) lives and works in London. He uses a vast array of media to question the mechanisms of perceiving an artwork within a complex relationship between reality and fiction. The majority of his production explores, in one way or another, absence, loss, invisibility, latency. With I… I… I…(2019), Ryan Gander stages an animatronic mouse with a stutter, nestled in a hole in the wall, surprising visitors as they wait for the elevator. Trapped in its animated “loop”, this unlikely mouse, condemned to live cycle after cycle of the same experience to the point of exhaustion, encourages us to think and even smile about our own condition.
Lili Reynaud Dewar
Trained in classical dance, Lili Reynaud Dewar (b. 1975 in La Rochelle, France) is a visual artist and performer. Drawing an inexhaustible choreographic repertoire from Josephine Baker’s creations, her critical and militant performances transform her naked painted body into a kind of grammar. Her body confronts the environments in which it moves and merges. Presented in the hall of the 18th-century staircase of the Bourse de Commerce, two video performances by Lili Reynaud Dewar are positioned opposite each other. The first, “Dancing with Myself” (2018), shows the artist dancing in the exhibition spaces of the Bourse de Commerce, then undergoing restoration, while the second was performed as part of the exhibition “If the Snake” curated by Pierre Huyghe for the second Okayama Art Summit in September 2019. Lili Reynaud Dewar blurs the line between the private and public spheres: the museum becomes an intimate space and the gestures of collective memory a personal physical language, while she stages her naked and vulnerable body. The paint that covers her transforms her body into an extremely fluid, almost abstract material.
The Côte d’Azur, with its coastline, colourful bathing costumes and summery character, is a recurring decor and source of inspiration in Martial Raysse’s work. The landscape of Nice formed the idyllic setting for Conversation printanière (1964), as well as his early assemblages, like Raysse Beach (1962) for example, which were imbued with seaside views, under a neon sun and to the beat of The Beach Boys. Ici Plage, comme ici bas (2012) is a large panel painted in the manner of a historical painting but in acidic, almost electric sienna hues that reinvent the frieze compositions of the primitive masters. In this utopian landscape, stretching from the Montagne Sainte-Victoire to the city and the coast, a crowd of people—all of humanity seems to be represented in the manner of a carnival crowd, either blessed or damned—is visible from the background to the foreground, where they burst forth like an Adoration of the Magi or an infernal cortège from the Quattrocento. On a stretch of shore, between two bodies of water, fresh and saltwater, we see a fuchsia-coloured lifebuoy, which adds yet another layer to this enigmatic representation that unfolds before the intrigued but disturbed viewer.
With its intermittent changing hues, this “lighthouse” translates into code the mythical and unfinished eponymous novel by René Daumal (1908-1944), published posthumously in 1951. This light sequence illuminates the Parisian sky, translating the story of Daumal’s fantastic, metaphysical adventure, which recounts the discovery and collective ascent of a mountain joining earth to sky. An endless quest, an impossible adventure, a metaphor for art and its utopia. Philippe Parreno has designed a new version of this in-situ installation for the Bourse de Commerce, reworking and modifying one of his seminal pieces, originally created in 2001. Mont Analogue is installed at the top of a unique architectural feature, present on the site since the Renaissance, when the building served as the palace of Catherine de’ Medici. This column, a symbol of royal power as much as esoteric eminence (according to legend, the queen’s astrologers, notably Cosimo Ruggieri and Nostradamus observed the stars there) becomes a beacon from which the artist transmits another message to the city. It is in the form of a mysterious code that the artist invites us to discover the invisible, possible, intangible worlds of art.
Philippe Parreno (b. 1964, Algeria) studied at the École des Beaux-Arts in Grenoble and at the Institut des Hautes Études en Arts Plastiques in Paris. In his work, he explores the exhibition as a medium. Convinced that the project takes precedence over the object, his interest in a dynamic and collaborative artistic approach has led him to work with other artists, including Pierre Huyghe, Tino Sehgal, Douglas Gordon and Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, in an effort to radically rethink the concept of the exhibition. Parreno frequently intervenes in the mechanisms of how exhibitions work, by creating environments consisting of a succession of ephemeral elements or of varying duration, and by transforming the exhibition itself into an artistic object. In the 2000s, his films were populated by ghosts and automata, mirroring his questioning around the border that exists between fiction and reality, story and origin. These films take place in a poetic space punctuated by explicit references to the world of science fiction, science and the occult, philosophy and fables.
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One ticket covers all exhibitions. In the current health context, access to the museum by booking only, online or on site, in advance.
Full price: €14
Reduced price: €10
Free for Super Cercle members from 4 p.m. onwards
From 19 January to 14 February 2022, the Bourse de Commerce will be a hive of activity with preparations underway for the Charles Ray exhibition.
Full price: €9
Reduced price: €7
This single entry dated ticket gives you access to the ongoing exhibitions (Araki, Douglas, Fischer, Hammons, Lavier) as well as to the flash visits and insight tours about the works and the architecture.