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PRINT March 1997

NAME GAMES: THE ART OF BERTRAND LAVIER

AFTER TWENTY YEARS of generating innumerable mutant objects that could be the artifacts of a strange archaeological excavation, Bertrand Lavier (logician of the real) is at the top of the French artistic heap, one of a Gang of Four that includes Daniel Buren (the pioneer of repetition), Annette Messager (the putterer-inventer), and Christian Boltanski (the despairing soul). What makes Lavier’s work distinctive is the symbiotic relationship he establishes between two objects that should never even have met: the household appliance and the artwork. The former, a car, for example, becomes the latter by virtue of a simple operation (the application of a coat of paint) that also produces a nominal, and thus a categorical, shift. The everyday object joins the museological tribe, and is named either painting or sculpture—sometimes both at once. Lavier claims to have no particular fascination for

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