It’s good to dream about art. It feels like something special happened.
I am constantly in search of that feeling. That something special feeling. Once you’ve had it, it’s hard to go back to just getting by.
It’s Thursday morning and I am feeling that way right now. I’m back in Paris, it feels special, and yes I did dream about art (well a bunch of paintings actually) a few nights ago. It is probably because I have seen so much art lately.
I spent last Sunday at FIAC 2007 at the Grand Palais in Paris. It’s the big French art fair in the big, glass-roofed palace. The Grand Palais was built for a World Expo in 1900, and according to Wikipedia there is a whole Police force housed downstairs to watch over the art.
Leaving the Jardin des Plantes (where Catherine and I were staying), you can take the 63 bus down the left side of the Seine, get off at Invalides, and walk across the Pont Alexandre III bridge. It’s a great trip.
The weather was autumnal, or as my friend Alison says, authentic. Shiny bright and crispy cold. The crowds were swarming, literally, and everyone was in a good mood. At least everyone I could see. Perhaps there were stressed-out gallerists around but I didn’t see them.
(I forgot my camera so could only take snaps with my Razr.)
While wandering through the Grand Palais, trying to pull my gaze off the ceiling and back to the art at hand, I found myself thinking about how great I felt. It’s these art fairs. I’ve been to a few lately.
I know they are considered crass displays of commercialism – in fact, you almost expect a barker to pop out of a gallery booth and yell “Get your Rothko’s right here.” I’d like to shout: “I’ll take 5! And could you have them delivered?”
And I know there is this notion that Art is supposed to be somehow free from the sales pitch (although a few carefully crafted anecdotes go nicely). (photo: Afga Rose by Michael Blazy at Art:Concept)
But still… despite all of that, I realized there in the middle of the Grand Palais that I like being in a large crowd of people who love art. There is some sort of ecstatic communion that takes place as we all sigh over this painting, or take photos of that sculpture, or huddle around a darkened cubicle to watch the latest in high video. And when you notice that the man with the white sign outside is really a performance artist, or that the noises you are hearing are coming from a sound installation and not some car backfiring, there is this sense of being IN – capitalized.
I guess some people get this experience with sports teams (and Paris has been awash with rugby enthusiasts walking around in white and red costumes.) Or they get it from other things like hot rod clubs or religious stuff or square dancing. I get it from art. Especially when it is in another language, like French for instance.
So at Fiac I was yelling go-team-go deep inside of me.
And the question of what sticks? Here are the things I most remember from my visit:
1. The sound created by a huge sculptural machine by Jean Tinguely (Untitled, 1986, at Hans Meyer Gallery). It was made of wood and all sorts of things turned and rotated. Creaks and moans and pops and shudders emanated from the piece. Listening to it, I felt like I was on some Spanish galleon bound for the New World. I can still hear it.
2. The elfin sculptures of Kiki Smith. Small, white women, part fish or sprite of some kind, almost real but deep down magical.
3. Photos of water by Roni Horn, from the series, From Some Thames (Hauser & Wirth). Absolutely exquisite. Greens and dark blues with bands of waves moving underneath the surface. Actually I was reading The Waves by Virginia Woolf, and it begins with this beautiful passage of the morning rising over the ocean. These photos brought that back.
4. Fiona Rae’s painting, Don’t Let the Sky Fall Down, 2007 at Galerie Nathalie Obadia. While I was staring at it, trying to memorize every curl and teddy bear, I was vaguely aware of a conversation between the gallery owner (?) and a prospective buyer. I so wanted to be him.
5. Christo’s sculpture, Packed Supermarket Cart, 1963, at Annely Juda. How many pictures have I seen of this? I don’t even know if this was the one I’ve seen so many times – did he make more than one of these wrapped shopping carts? But I will say that this one was small and endearing. The cart was so little, the wrapping so clumsy, the whole thing was nostalgic. And for an interesting read, check out the Common Errors section of Christo and Jean-Claude’s website.
And then there was the frightening piece by Ed Kienholz,
and the Julian Opie's again and again at Lisson Gallery.