English summary May 18 - 24

Grand Palais: La Force de l’Art Greenhouse for contemporary art The exhibition “La Force de l’Art” at the Grand Palais in Paris is deliberately not meant to be a classically curated exhibit, displaying works relating to one another or based on the same theme. The second edition of the triennial exhibition aims at reflecting the diversity of contemporary French art and returning its lost “power”; something evoked in the typically French immodest title. But it is regrettable that the peculiarities of this magical “power” fluctuate so heavily among the various work groups – obviously a reflection of the current Parisian taste. For the majority of the 41 artists at the Grand Palais, the concept seems to play a greater role than the visual presentation. Repeatedly one will find appealing minimalistic sculptures or design- and Bauhaus citations lost in the White-Cube exhibition architecture, which incite associations to the fair/exhibition hermaphrodite “abc”, founded in 2009 by gallery owners in Berlin. Where is the value of novelty, where is the power hidden? – a question that arises when viewing Gordon Matta-Clark’s works of a self constructed yuppie bungalow divided into two halves. But there are some interesting objects displayed – among them Michel Blazy’s installation, in which he positions a humungous tooth made of polyurethane, eggs, panning flour, chocolate pudding, and sweetened condensed milk next to late agar Easter eggs - all of which changes its form and colour through the strong sunlight and is placed inside two inaccessible rooms with earthy floors and net-like walls made of green glue. Questions on transience as well as the meaning and stability of art also arise through Wang Du’s installation “International Kebab”: stacked photos rotate on a huge spit, spanning over a height of three floors, which can be cropped by visitors. Art perceived as a consumer product is being reflected in the same way as the superiority of images. With his large format aquarelles, Damien Deroubaix holds a mirror up to the obviously US-influenced consumer society, where advertising and political propaganda seamlessly flow into one another. The painter constructed three 5.50 m tall towers for the Grand Palais, which refer to watch towers and oilrigs and question the meaning of political power. Philippe Perrot presents creepy fairy tales painted in an expressive-surrealistic manner. Both of these rather untypical French painters, who prefer to live abroad, are among the four candidates for this years Prix Marcel Duchamp, which will be awarded at the art fair Fiac this fall. Compared to the first edition of the triennial, in which 15 curators (instead of now three) presented 200 artists, this year’s exhibit clearly made progress. But it could not cast off its “trade fair” image, despite some well-arranged solo exhibits. This has a lot to do with the location, as the Grand Palais accommodates many trade fairs, including the Fiac. In any case it offered young artists a platform, while older artists such as Daniel Buren and ORLAND presented their work as “visitors” at well-known locations in Paris. The groundwork for young contemporary art has been laid – now it only has to steadily evolve. By Conny Becker Grand Palais 75008 Paris, Avenue Winston Churchill, until 01.06.09 www.laforcedelart.fr Hofmobiliendepot – Möbelmuseum Wien / Imperial Furniture Collection: Jean Prouvé – The Poetics of the Technical Object Poetry of edges He was probably one of the most consequent functionalists. Not an architect, but a trained blacksmith, and more of a pragmatist than an author of theoretical treatises, Jean Prouvé was always in the shadow of PR-geniuses like Le Corbusier and Walter Gropius. Prouvé aimed at making internal forces visible. At one time he even bought a used “Voisin”oldtimer to dismantle it and thereby attain a constructive insight. The sedulous nerd got to the bottom of everything and en passant applied the aesthetic potential of the construction as skilfully as no other. In doing so, he proved his talent of improvisation. He added bed springs to the tin-like wall elements of the Maison du Peuple in Clichy, to muffle the cracking noise caused by temperature differences, or by constructed his own house with the remainders of stock of his company in Maxéville near Nancy. His third architectural masterpiece is the drinking hall of Evian (1957), which attained its optical weightlessness by substituting compressive force by traction. Another example is the mobile tin panel façade of the apartment house at the Square Mozart in Paris; a kinetic model of this building is displayed at the exhibit. In addition, Prouvé was not only involved with UIAM and CIAM, but he also designed barracks for homeless people intended for series production. Prouvé’s well-known furniture designs, made of chamfered, welded tin and plywood - partly created together with Charlotte Perriand - are presented at the Imperial Furniture Collection, in cooperation with the Vitra Design Museum. Prouvé, the passionate chair toppler, whose seating furniture was designed to withstand a weight of 400 kg, developed a poetry of austerity based on economic modesty; something one can never get enough of. By Iris Meder Hofmobiliendepot – Möbel Museum Wien 1070 Vienna, Mariahilfer Strasse 88, entrance: Andreasgasse 7, until 21.06.09 www.hofmobiliendepot.at MUSA – Museum auf Abruf: Elisabeth Wedenig – Sternengärtner Wedenig in the Wonderland The colourful canvas and textile paintings currently displayed at the Startgalerie inevitably remind of hippie days and LSD. The canvases, without frames, are simply stapled to the walls. The fantasy-laden paintings have titles such as “Lichtsammlerin” (light collector) or “Sternengärtner” (star gardener) and offer an insight into drug-generated worlds of wonder. But they do not depict beatniks or Indian gods, but neatly dressed housewives, who populate the heaven embroidered with diamonds. Despite their esoteric character and dreaminess the works are not kitschy and handkerchiefs, artfully hung on canvas and skilfully painted, partly convey a miraculous simplicity and intimacy. They display a granny and a flower child meeting for an intergalactic picnic in Nirvana. The intimate format of the handkerchiefs, partly embroidered with a fringe do not convey the impression of “great art”, but more that of an everyday sketch painted on a handkerchief in the absence of a piece of paper. In surrealistic tradition, the topics oscillate between dream pictures and everyday life, as they iridise between petering fields of colour and realistic depictions of people. The large format painting “Im nächsten Haus links vom Obstgarten” (In the next house left of the fruit garden), 2009, opens the view, from an insinuated austere room, towards fanciful flower worlds. As if on drugs, one floats among hazy figures, UFOs, and flower gardens through the pictorial images of this exhibition. By Wolfgang Pichler MUSA – Museum auf Abruf 1010 Vienna, Felderstrasse 6-8, next to the town hall, until 28.05.09 www.musa.at Scuderie del Quirinale: Futurismo, Avanguardia-Avanguardie States of mind and persistent noise The number of major futuristic paintings not displayed at the exhibition “Futurismo. Avanguardia – Avanguardie”, is relatively limited. Umberto Boccioni’s “Study for the Laugh”, his “Modern Idol”, the “States of Mind”: all there. And Carlo Carrà’s “Funeral of the Anarchist Galli”, Gino Serverini’s “Boulevard”, Giacomo Balla’s “Girl on the Balcony”, and Luigi Russolo’s “Revolte”: also there. The works are arranged according to the topics “light”, “sound, noise, smell”, “tempi and rhythm”, “power lines” and “dynamisms”. This not only meets the requirements of movement; the similarities of the style of individual artists also become apparent. For example in Carrà’s “Funeral of the Anarchist Galli” and in Boccioni’s “States of Mind” – both works are juxtaposed. The artistic virtuosity is evident in Boccioni’s “Quelli che vanno”, in which mask-like faces with closed eyes seem to be hacked to pieces by whipped brush strokes, and in “Quelli che restano” a layer of vines - or something similar –slowly cover a trudging group of figures; these are all artistic sensations. However, appreciating the works is restrained by the sloppy lighting, the wall colours, which, to put it mildly, take getting used to, and the persistent alarm sounds, which are nerve-racking. The exhibit spans across two floors; but it is exaggerated to present all other avant-garde trends- even if there are admittedly some outstanding pieces among them. Thereby the exhibit is more of a gallop through the historic avant-garde, which - on the one hand, is too small to offer a significantly new insight, and on the other – is too large, to simply complement the actual topic of the exhibition. Futuristic sculptures and architecture, poetry and theory, music and photography – aside from a few exceptions – were completely omitted. The exhibition title should much rather be “Futuristic Painting”. Under this premise, the exhibit is top class and nearly complete. By Nina Schedlmayer Rome, Via XXIV Maggio 16, until 25.5.09 www.scuderieguirinale.it

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