One Night in Paris

Nicolas Trembley around Paris


Left: Galleriest Chantal Crousel with artists Jean-Luc Moulène, Melik Ohanian, and Sophie Calle. Middle: Wolfgang Tillmans signing copies of his new book. Right: Hans Peter Feldman.

Un, deux, trois, let’s do it again! Saturday, September 10 was the day of the “rentrée”—a new season at the Paris galleries. A crowd of tanned art lovers came back from their Provence holidays with new resolutions, such as to stop drinking and smoking. I guess we’re getting old. At least thirty galleries listed in the Galeries Mode d’Emploi held simultaneous receptions for this ostensibly wholesome crowd. My own rentrée had actually taken place the previous Tuesday at Marian Goodman’s gallery where, in an apparent spirit of iconoclasm or perhaps just a desire to beat the crowds, the gallerist had gotten things off to an early start with a new solo show by Christian Boltanski, his first in Goodman’s Paris branch after several exhibitions at her New York flagship.

The show, titled “Prendre la Parole” (To Speak), consisted of three installations, the biggest of which, on the main floor, had raincoats propped on leglike wooden supports and loudspeakers emitting strange voices saying stranger things (“I’m fat, I’m fat!”). A video presented mix-and-match mouths, noses, and eyes that viewers could manipulate like a child’s game. The archival images were drawn from newspapers published on Boltanski’s birthday—September 6—from 1944 to 2004. I learned that night that we share a birthday (but not the same year, I should add). It was a shame we couldn’t take any celebratory pictures together: As usual at his shows, it was too dark.

Thaddaus Ropac also opened a blockbuster on Tuesday—a show of new Imi Knoebel paintings—but no surprises there. On Saturday, though, in his basement—I mean, in his project room—I found something more unexpected: weird, life-size sculptures of children by Judy Fox. Nearby, Emmanuel Perrotin, who settled into the old Cosmic Galerie space this past spring, has spurred activity on rue Saint Claude, attracting new gallerists, and showing new artists in new spaces. I had hardly heard of any of them, but the street was full of people brandishing a flyer that exhorted, “Join the rue saint Claude!” What was happening here? Would the famous rue Louise Weiss, in the thirteenth arrondissement, get a run for its money from the once-dowdy Marais? Eric Mircher, formerly of Ropac, opened a new space here. Down the block, Frank Elbaz was showing paintings by Dominique Renson, who puts Parisian eccentrics in a white box—literally—and paints portraits of them. Fashion designer Rick Owens immediately snapped up his own portrait. Several television crews came to have a look at the “Creatures,” as the show is called, as if they had never before seen a transvestite. Elbaz invited me to Le Barron, the former strip club that has gone from trendy to overflowing with young “studs” in nine short months. André, the graffiti artist who owns the club, has decided to open a new space. Good idea! How long until we’re bored of that one?

Left: Painter Lisa Milroy. Middle: Guillermo Calzadilla and Jennifer Allora. Right: Christian Marclay.

Martine Aboucaya, a former partner of Yvon Lambert, presented the one great exhibition of the evening. In her space, once inhabited by the famous fashion DJ Frederic Sanchez (purveyor of Prada’s catwalk music), she presented a Hans Peter Feldman mini-retrospective, with a book component organized by the fabulous bookseller Florence Loewy. Lambert invited us to the new Baci restaurant for a big dinner for Christian Marclay. But the place to be was Chantal Crousel’s new space. Not only had she left the Beaubourg area for new digs in the Marais, she was also celebrating twenty-five years in the business with work by a range of artists, including Cindy Sherman, Thomas Hirschhorn, Jennifer Allora & Guillermo Calzadilla, Fabrice Gygi, and Fikret Atay. She had asked the artists to think about her program and make a work in response and the results were interesting. Rirkrit Tiravanij for instance made a new painting asking “Where is Jack Goldstein?” Anyway, they all went to the Jenny Brasserie to celebrate but I left. I had more art to see!

I ended up over on rue Louise Weiss, and after a whirlwind tour I found myself at L’Haudierne, a really bad restaurant with an unappetizing fixed menu—“Blanquette de veau,” quite disgusting—where all the galleries host dinners together. But Florence Bonnefous from Air de Paris is always good at saving the day with great iPod mixes to play on the bad stereo. The dinner conversation seemed to focus on a Chihuahua sitting on the lap of Joseph Grigely, who is presenting new work, as is his wife Amy Vogel, at Air de Paris. He wrote me a list of famous dogs on those little blue cards familiar from his art: Toto, Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Rex. Back on the block, I had seen a nice show at gb agency gallery, which has moved into the space recently vacated by Perrotin. The gallery is presenting a Deimantas Narkevicius work and a few great little stickers by London-based artist Ryan Gander. Elswhere, collectors cleaned out Sam Durant’s show at Praz Delavallade, his first in Paris.

With all this running around, I cannot remember the end of the evening too clearly. Somehow I ended up with curator-writers Stephanie Moisdon and Eric Troncy and dealer Bonnefous in an old windmill—full of artist squatters!—on an island somewhere in the thirteenth arrondissement. Somehow the charms of the scene were lost on us and we had to wonder, “Are we boring?” Or is Paris?

Left: Mark Handforth. Middle: Roman Signer. Right: Rirkrit Tiravanija.

Left: Amy Vogel and Joseph Grigely. Middle: DJ Florence Bonnefous. Right: Eric Troncy, Stephanie Moisdon, Bruno Serralongue, and Florence Bonnefous.