Nicolas Trembley

  • diary January 28, 2020

    Singapore Fling

    I FOUND MYSELF on a recent Sunday evening in a Singaporean mall, at a dinner hosted by ShanghART gallery, meeting the country’s arts impresarios over Peking duck and century eggs. Dealer Lillian Wu and Rosa Daniel of the National Arts Council spoke of the country’s expanding arts scene—words such as “global platform” and “art hub” were as plentiful as the bonnes bouches on offer. And such talk is warranted. For readers unfamiliar with Singapore (as I was a couple weeks ago), I hereby report that the city-state is booming, enjoying new streams of money diverted from Hong Kong. On January 12, the

  • diary February 13, 2019

    Such Great Heights

    I HAD TWO RIDE OPTIONS to the third iteration of “Elevation 1049” (the number refers to the ski resort’s altitude), produced by Luma Foundation, with the involvement of Maja Hoffmann, and again curated by local artist Olympia Scarry and Neville Wakefield: driving with artist Sylvie Fleury in her new Tesla (the brand is popular in the Alps, and it’s easy to find charging stations) or flying with Hans Ulrich Obrist in an Airbus helicopter (also very popular, with many local landing areas). But an unexpected snowstorm forced me to take a regular train from the Geneva airport to Montreux, and then

  • diary March 27, 2018

    E.A.T. Up!

    ZÜRICH’S KLOTEN AIRPORT WAS VERY BUSY during the last week of January. The snow was unusually abundant, as was the number of security guards deployed to protect the roster of international leaders—including France’s president Emmanuel Macron, President Donald J. Trump of the United States, and the United Kingdom’s prime minister Theresa May—arriving for the World Economic Forum in Davos. But in the village of Klosters, the heartland of British royalty, we boarded trains for Lower Engadin, in the direction of the village of Zuoz, for another illustrious (yet far more artistic) summit called the


    This exhibition might be the most ambitious project dealing with jewelry ever conceived for a museum. The titular reference to taboos relays that while gems may be popular within institutions of applied arts, they are historically not welcome in fine-art contexts (too marginal, craft-oriented, precious, or ornamental). Transcending chronological and geographic categorizations, the curators will bring together more than four hundred pieces of jewelry to be displayed around four themes—identity, value, body, and ritual. The selection

  • diary February 15, 2017

    Oh My Gstaad

    WITH RECORD-LOW SNOWFALLS, Swiss ski resorts appear to be the latest casualty of global climate change.

    Which is a shame, since winter sports are now intrinsically bound to Swiss contemporary art—that is, to cultural attractions that keep residents busy or attract new ones.

    These past few weeks, one could take part in master classes at the Verbier Art Summit in Valais (with Rem Koolhaas, Tino Sehgal, or Beatrix Ruf) or in the Engadin Art Talks in Zuoz (with Oscar Tuazon, Hito Steyerl, and even Eileen Myles). But the only alpine event that promises to resemble an art exhibition is Gstaad’s Elevation

  • diary October 23, 2014

    Love for Sail

    AFTER SIX YEARS of pharaonic construction, the long-awaited Fondation Louis Vuitton building, imagineered by Frank Gehry, emerged during FIAC week in Paris with a succession of openings that kept crazy-busy an army of PR and various other sergeants of protocol.

    Visits to the site-under-construction began already years ago, and an initial press preview of the empty but finished building took place in early September. As Suzanne Pagé, the artistic director, explained, “This is the first chef d’oeuvre of the collection,” a collection that belongs to the foundation and to Bernard Arnault, owner of

  • diary July 06, 2013

    Again and Again

    THE FACT THAT THE ART WORLD does not have the same criteria for assessment as the rest of the world was brought home to me recently while in a taxi with Sturtevant—indisputably one of the most influential artists of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, maybe ever. When we left the Serpentine Gallery Summer Party in London, there were hundreds of fans gathered in Kensington Gardens and paparazzi cameras flashing madly. They were not cheering “my star,” though, but top models (Naomi, Kate, Karen, and Eva) and actors from Game of Thrones and Downton Abbey, stars from another galaxy who were

  • diary April 23, 2012

    The Fischer King

    IT WAS RAINING when Urs Fischer’s exhibition opened at the Palazzo Grassi. When it rains in Venice, armies of parka-clad tourists toting umbrellas of all colors wind down the narrow streets. Fischer, the anti-Abramović, was conspicuously not present at the official opening of the exhibition, whose title, “Madame Fisscher,” is the feminine version of the artist’s name. Madame Fisscher is also the title of a work at the entrance to the Palazzo that consists of an exact replica of the artist’s former studio in London.

    Fischer—in the company of François Pinault, owner of the Palazzo and one of the

  • diary March 21, 2012

    Again and Again

    LAST FRIDAY, cover artist Sturtevant took over the Moderna Museet with her new exhibition “Bild över bild” (Image over Image), her first show in Scandinavia, which travels to the Kunsthalle Zurich at the end of the year. Friends, curators, dealers, and artists came from all over the world to celebrate the interrogative pioneer who questioned art’s autonomy.

    During the opening, Sturtevant raised her arms and made several hip-hop hand gestures while shouting, “Wow, it’s cybernetic style!” Fans (including me) responded with a round of laughter and applause before attacking the meatballs and gravlax.

  • diary March 02, 2012

    Crown Prince

    THE TWO MOST FAMOUS PEOPLE ever born in Málaga, Spain, are Pablo Picasso and Antonio Banderas. They’ll soon come together when the actor portrays the artist in filmmaker Carlos Saura’s biopic 33 dias. But on Monday, Málaga celebrated a different union, this one between Picasso and Richard Prince. The Prince/Picasso exhibition, which is being held at the Museo Picasso Málaga, was organized in collaboration with the artist’s grandson, Bernard Ruiz-Picasso, and his wife, dealer Almine Rech, and the support of their foundation, FABA.

    Prince arrived Saturday from New York on a private jet in the

  • diary December 05, 2011

    Talking Shop

    I CAN’T BELIEVE how many people I met in Miami who had not yet made it to the big fair, even though that’s why we were all (ostensibly) there in the first place. It turns out it wasn’t Art Basel that they were interested in, but “Art Basel”—the constitutive surplus of cocktails, galas, parties, and fetes around the fair. ABMB began as an art thing, but has by now become one of the biggest platforms for the luxury-goods market, especially clothing.

    It makes sense that Fendi, Audi, and Swarovski were the main sponsors of Art Basel’s sister show, Design Miami. But it was a bit of a surprise to come

  • diary October 24, 2011

    Breaking News

    BRIGHT SUN, NO APPARENT STRIKES, and last week’s surprising announcement in the World Wealth Report that France is the European country with the most millionaires per square meter: All of this boosted enthusiasm for the opening of the thirty-eighth Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain (FIAC) in Paris. On Tuesday evening, the day before the fair’s official opening, some collectors and their consultants—many of whom described being discouraged by the prior week’s “lukewarm” Frieze Art Fair—began to snatch up any work measuring more than three meters and costing more than 100,000 euros. From

  • diary March 29, 2011

    Plot Point

    EXHAUSTED, I GOT OFF THE CATTLE TRUCK that is the new Paris-Dubai Airbus 380 at 3 AM on Tuesday, March 15. After an hour’s wait at customs, the Bangladeshi driver who was to take me to the neighboring emirate of Sharjah asked if I wouldn’t mind waiting for the second passenger, who hadn’t arrived yet. After thirty minutes, I asked who the second passenger was. Glenn Lowry, he told me. “Don’t worry,” I said. “I’m sure he’ll find the way on his own. Let’s go.”

    And so various members of the international art-world elite began trickling into the United Arab Emirates. During the press conference the

  • diary February 17, 2011

    Get the Idea

    “I WAS STRUCK by the minister of culture, Frédéric Mitterrand. His speech was so heartfelt, quirky, and knowledgeable, with an undercurrent of humor, and he kept giving me sharp little looks all the way through, as if to say ‘You know whom I’m talking about!’ ” This was what AA Bronson told me right after receiving the distinguished French medal of the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres last Thursday at the Canadian embassy in Paris.

    It’s still unclear whom Mitterand was talking about (perhaps Miss General Idea?), but the event was sufficiently moving and drew 150 friends and admirers who were carried

  • diary September 21, 2010

    Rising Sun

    “IS THIS AN EMMANUEL PERROTIN OPENING?” everyone kept asking last Monday. The official answer was: No, it’s a solo show by the artist Takashi Murakami at the Château de Versailles—though Perrotin’s presence was certainly felt. No matter whose event it was, it was clear that this exhibition was already a worldwide media event, two years after Jeff Koons caused a similar stir at the Sun King’s former residence.

    The Murakami show was produced with the help and financial support of Perrotin, the Parisian gallery owner who seems to be subtly curating the Château’s program with his roster of marketable

  • diary May 17, 2010

    Masterpiece Theater

    Metz, France

    ADVERTISEMENTS WITH PHOTOGRAPHS of Warhol, Picasso, and Dalí—along with the slogan JE M’INSTALLE À METZ (I’m Moving to Metz)—greeted visitors on the platform of the TGV high-speed train that had been reserved by the French government for last Monday’s official opening of the Centre Pompidou-Metz. The museum is France’s first “decentralized” cultural institution; the Louvre will follow with outposts in Abu Dhabi and in Lens, France, both scheduled to open in 2012.

    On the train one could overhear guests confessing, over coffee and macaroons, that this was the very first time they would set foot in

  • diary June 15, 2009

    Time is Money


    THE MOST ENTERTAINING ACTIVITY of the past two weeks, as one raced from Venice to Basel, was comparing the vastly differing points of view over the same subjects. Thanks to globalization, which has multiplied the number of countries and artists represented at the fairs and exhibitions, the most diligent marathon runners (artists, dealers, critics, collectors) ended up a bit confused. They seemed most flustered when it came time for one of their favorite activities: judging. There were no clear standards, and what was “brilliant” to one person proved “disappointing” to another. “Splendid” or “

  • diary December 08, 2008

    Last Resort


    “THE MOST EXTRAORDINARY EXPERIENCES lie at the intersection of your world and ours; be ready to discover a canvas for your imagination.” The new Fontainebleau Hotel, recently “reinvented” according to Morris Lapidus’s original design, didn’t skimp on words in its brochure to welcome Art Basel Miami Beach and Design Miami visitors. I (along with Ivana Trump) was among the visitors to stay in its hallowed walls last week.

    A couple of weeks prior the hotel had opened with a Victoria’s Secret fashion show, a video of which was relayed on a screen in a hallway. (“Delicious,” salivated one young guest

  • diary September 15, 2008

    Palace Intrigue


    The other morning, a French TV talk show featured a spot on the Jeff Koons Versailles controversy. (Even in sophisticated France, few popular TV shows address contemporary art—except perhaps to criticize it.) “You either like it or you don’t,” one of the women said. “But you have to be impressed by the fact that the king of kitsch, the one who’s put vacuum cleaners behind glass and who married the ex–porn star Cicciolina, is showing at the château!” Rarely has an exhibition in France aroused so much public debate or such wide media coverage.

    To summarize, the complaints are as follows. Reactionaries

  • diary June 03, 2008

    Swiss Family


    “Darling, I can’t go around changing these dates with CEOs, artists, collectors, and curators. It’s too much drama. Can you arrive earlier?” Such was the dialogue that ran rampant throughout last weekend’s loosely organized itinerary of art events in Zurich—a prequel to the Basel hurricane and a high-category storm in its own right that rained openings, tours of collectors’ homes, and VIP dinners on the assembled dignitaries. “Some people fit in four dinners in an evening,” someone noted—but not me. Who’s that hungry? Though I did feel as though I had some catching up to do by the time I arrived