Daniel Soutif

  • Annette Messager

    “One says a love movie, one says a love story; one should be able to say a love painter.” This wonderful observation of Annette Messager’s is already quite old, but it takes on new life when applied to the artist’s recent work. It is, in fact, love, the words of love and the body of love—or perhaps love of the body—that today are at the heart of Messager’s art. Such is one of the conclusions made explicit in the artist’s recent exhibitions, especially at this very important showing of her work.

    While the “Chimères” (Chimeras), shown by the artist at the beginning of 1984, revealed a rather

  • THE FOUR-CORNERS GAME

    BIENNALES AND DOCUMENTAS THESE DAYS always seem to appear right on schedule, one after the other, like symptoms in a disease. One no longer goes to look at the work but to see how the patient is doing. Given art’s quasi-cancerous rate of proliferation, a lot of space is necessary for any attempt at an overview, and only huge international exhibitions command the appropriate means. In Venice, this general pathology is superimposed on a city itself ever more infested or infected by tourists, ever less capable of renewal, as if stricken by a general paralysis or aphasia. No one quite knows why they

  • Bertrand Lavier

    Bertrand Lavier has become known for his “repainted objects” and his “superimpositions”—sculptures made with manufactured objects or appliances in which the artist’s intervention is simple and direct: covering an object with a thick coat of paint (the same color or colors as the object itself), or placing one object on top of another without altering the ready-made form of either in any way. Taking advantage of one of France’s largest exhibition spaces outside of Paris, Lavier recently put together a show—which he called “Exposition personnelle” (Personal exhibition)—featuring several radically

  • Braco Dimitrijevic

    Since the late ’70s, the Yugoslav artist Braco Dimitrijevic has been producing two different types of work, both of which mix together the ideas and materials of art, culture, and nature. In 1976 he began a series of installations that he calls “Triptychos post historicus” (Post-historical triptychs) each of which involves the juxtaposition of three types of objects: artworks borrowed from a museum or private collection, manufactured products taken from everyday life, and raw fruits or vegetables. Two years later he started making “Culturescapes,” a new series of works that, through somewhat

  • Pierre Mercier

    Pierre Mercier became known in the early ’80s through his remarkable “Portraits de travailleurs dans la rue” (Portraits of street workers, 1978–80) and “Statues du mineur” (Statues of the miner, 1981), works that analyzed, through photographs, the formal vocabulary and limitations of sculpture. Mercier continued to explore this theme in works such as Epreuve de lecture (Reading lesson, 1982), for which he photographed a model who stood on a pedestal, with book in hand in a pose characteristic of traditional sculpture, while the pedestal rotated. The work consisted of nine of these photographs,

  • Jean-Pierre Bertrand

    Jean-Pierre Bertrand has steadily moved to the fore of the French contemporary art scene, but his role, like his work, is difficult to categorize. Coming from the world of films (he was an assistant movie director in the ’60s), Bertrand began to make art objects and show them in gallery exhibitions in the early ’70s. Strictly speaking, in purely formal terms, one cannot call him either a painter or a sculptor, although his work has at times resembled simple sculpture, or, more often, large abstract monochromatic paintings; he is no longer a filmmaker, in spite of the small experimental films

  • Jean Degottex

    For Jean Degottex, painting is primarily an ethical rather than an esthetic enterprise, a matter of how a work is made. The work, no matter how autonomous once it is finished, must show traces of its making. Furthermore, the method or action involved must be determined by the “intelligence of the material” being used, as Degottex describes it—although it is not clear whether he intends it in the passive or active sense: the intrinsic intelligence of the material, or the intelligence that is brought out by the care and labor lavished on it. In other words, despite appearances, Degottex’s work is

  • Raymond Hains

    Raymond Hains' work is as disturbing as it is moving. Born in 1926, Hains already had quite a long history behind him when the critic Pierre Restany coined the term “nouveau réalisme” (new realism) in 1960 to describe the work of a variety of artists—including Arman, César, Hains, Yves Klein, Martial Raysse, and Jean Tinguely—who by that time had begun to use everyday materials, existing artifacts, and similar concrete approaches to art making. Although the inclusion of Hains among this group was justified by his direct appropriations of fragments of reality, such as the removal of affiches (

  • Jean-Michel Alberola

    Jean-Michel Alberola first gained public recognition in the early ’80s, and he quickly distinguished himself as one of the most outstanding French artists of his generation. However, even though he showed unusual talent right from the start, especially in pastels, a medium rarely used by his contemporaries, he might still have been regarded as just one more young artist of whom, as we can recall, there was no shortage at the beginning of the decade. Alberola stood out because he deliberately called into question the traditional relation of an artist to his work, chiefly through the suppression

  • Gloria Friedmann

    Of German origin but a resident of France for some time now, Gloria Friedmann had her first show at the Musée national d’art moderne, Paris, in 1981 and participated this past summer in Documenta 8. Oriented toward nature early on, the sculptures and installations of this young artist focused at first on the issue of landscape and its pictorial or sculptural representation. In her more recent works, which in their own way evoke something of the tradition of 19th-century Romantic painting (notably that of Caspar David Friedrich), Friedmann has been developing a simplified approach to form, making

  • Daniel Buren

    More than a year after the polemics that marked the important work conceived by Daniel Buren for the Cour d’honneur of the Palais-Royal here in Paris, and despite the recognition that he brought to the French pavilion at the last Biennale in Venice, his position in France remains paradoxical. Although Buren’s international reputation has long been firmly established, his work as a whole—often reduced to the cliché of stripes, which for the artist is nothing but a simple visual device—continues to be unknown in his own country, even though just about everyone is familiar with the name of the

  • Bertrand Lavier

    Bertrand Lavier’s work surprises by its sheer diversity, judging from just the few pieces presented here. The first work in the exhibition, installed in one of the museum’s most venerable halls of old paintings, was Privé/Mobi, 1987, a spectacular piece consisting of a corrugated metal grain silo, perfectly cylindrical, set on top of a bright yellow construction-site shed. Like several of his other sculptures of the past two years, it is a “superimposition,” a category of the artist’s own devising, and the title is simply the brand name of each object, one “over” the other. Despite its audacity,