Frances Guerin

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Ingres' Bathers   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Posted 2/28/11
It is difficult to describe the perfection of the bather’s silken skin in Ingres’ La Baigneuse Valpinçon dite La grande baigneuse (1808). And her flesh is so sensuous that it’s difficult to know where to stand in order to imbibe this perfection. Ingres will paint the same skin, the same woman in the same pose again and again. He will repeat her for commissions, as a sketch and again in competed works such as le Bain Turc (1863) and never is she as beautiful as she is in La Baigneuse... [more]
Michelangelo's Slaves   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Posted 2/28/11
Perhaps my favorite room in the Louvre is the Italian sculptures on the ground floor of the Denon wing. At the end of the hall, stand two of the museum’s most superb Renaissance sculptures: Michelangelo’s two unfinished slaves, The Rebellious Slave(1513-1515) and The Dying Slave (1513-1516). Apparently they were commissioned for the tomb of Pope Julius II in 1505, but Michelangelo didn’t start working on them till 1513 and then abandoned them in 1516. But standing before them, their history,... [more]
Tony Oursler   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Tony Oursler at Galerie Mitterrand January 13th, 2011 - March 12th, 2011
Posted 2/21/11
It’s been years since I have looked at Tony Oursler’s work in any sustained and critical way. In fact, the last time I saw his trademark faces projected onto fabric and resin objects must have been at Metro Pictures in the late-1990s, a time when video installation had so recently broken through the esteemed walls of the Museum of Modern Art. I was excited then by Oursler’s work because, as the second wave of video art, it was still doing something that the first wave – the likes of Gary Hill,... [more]
Luc Delahaye   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Luc Delahaye at Galerie Nathalie Obadia January 8th, 2011 - March 5th, 2011
Posted 2/14/11
When I first saw Luc Delahaye’s photographs including his much applauded Baghdad IV, 2003, in London at the Photographer’s Gallery in the Deutsche Börse Photography Prize, I was underwhelmed. And seeing his recent exhibition at Galerie Nathalie Obadia, my critique of his photographs seems to remain in tact.  Standing before these massive C-prints, admittedly not in the most flattering of displays, I was left wondering why they have been so celebrated. The gallery press release claims the... [more]
Tony Cragg   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Tony Cragg at Musée du Louvre January 28th, 2011 - April 25th, 2011
Posted 2/7/11
In preparation for Tony Cragg’s appearance in the Face à Face series at the Louvre, I went last night to see his 8 sculptural works now on exhibition scattered among the monumental 17th and 18thcentury French statutory in the Cour Marly, and the Cour Puget. And, of course, Cragg is the first artist to have his work realize I.M. Pei’s conception of the volume under the Pyramid as an exhibition space. On a column under the magnificent glass pyramid proudly sits Versus (2010), a piece made... [more]
Piet Mondrian   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Piet Mondrian at Centre Pompidou December 1st, 2010 - March 21st, 2011
Posted 1/4/11
Tonight, I went to see Mondrian and de Stijl at the Centre Pompidou, and I nearly cried. I didn’t particularly like the hanging of many of Mondrian’s greatest paintings that are on display here. Although this huge exhibition did, at times, gesture in the right direction, in true Centre Pompidou style, there was way too much going on, and to be seen properly it would need at least three full days. While I see the logic of bringing Mondrian and De Stijl together — more on that in the next... [more]
          My friend and I met on Friday for one last visit before she left for the sun and surf of California for the winter. Because it was our final get together we chose carefully: Nancy Spero and Arman at the Centre Pompidou. After visiting these shows, we sat over tea in the Pompidou cafe and bemoaned the vacuity of Arman's work and the small range of Spero's exhibit. I started folding the Pompidou's press sheet called "what's on today" during our conversation and suddenly... [more]
Sally Mann Intense   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Sally Mann at Galerie Karsten Greve October 16th, 2010 - December 31st, 2010
Posted 11/30/10
        Sally Mann fans who missed her show at the Photographer’s Gallery in London will want to make the journey to Karsten Greve Gallery in the Marais. What Karsten Greve are billing as a retrospetive is more accurately a summary of four of Mann’s different artistic periods. On exhibition are samplings from the series: Deep South 1996-1998, Battlefields 2000-2002, Faces 2004, and Proud Flesh 2004-2009. Though it is not as comprehensive as Karsten Greve claims, the... [more]
          American friends visiting Paris, here to write a travel blog — 30 days in Paris —  quizzed me on buying Eurostar tickets and making hotel bookings in London. At first I thought, how strange, that a travelog on Paris would need to include London. But for those of us who live between lands, London is as much a part of Paris as Monoprix and the metro. And in November, that’s what we do: we are all, at some stage in the month, on the Eurostar to London. In November, the Christmas... [more]
Absence and Angles   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
André Kertész at Jeu de Paume September 28th, 2010 - February 6th, 2011
Posted 11/21/10
          The Hungarian photographer, André Kertész, is not usually associated with place. However, coming away from the wonderful retrospective of his work at the Jeu de Paume, my resounding impression was one of just how dependent on Paris he was for inspiration. His dependence on Paris becomes painfully evident when Kertész goes to New York and he tries to find in New York what brought his frames alive in Paris. The lines, the light, the stillness, melancholy and nostalgia of an... [more]
The most challenging aspect of teaching early photography is communicating to 18 year olds just how enthralling, even mesmerizing it was to its nineteenth century audiences. Coming away from the Tate Britain’s exhibition of Eadweard Muybridge’s photographic experiments, my resounding response was one of wonder at the beauty and magic of what I had just seen. Muybridge, the innovative, self-made man of modernity with a sensational biography is not the only draw card here, rather the... [more]
              October is the month that we foreigners begin to feel like Parisians. October is the month when Parisians hunker down and immerse themselves into the routines of daily life. October is like few other months in Paris because there is very little talk of holidays; summer is now in the past, and Christmas still on a distant horizon. And unlike November and May, the other months in transition, there are no public holidays in October. The only holidays to be had are those... [more]
            In France I have come to understand, in the words of one of its greatest writers, that I carry my exile within me. In France I have come to understand that my exile is not a discomfort of place or of city, of culture or of language, but that the vexation and dilemma of being an outsider is imagined. It is imagined in the sense that exile is the refuge I choose from those structures that are erected as a matter of survival and self-definition by all societies, not just in... [more]
    A friend and I went for the first of our Friday afternoon art adventures, and ended up strolling through the new hanging of the modern art collection on the fifth floor of the Centre Pompidou. For the most part, the works don’t look so different in their new context, but there were a couple of things that had us in awe. For me the most exciting change has to be the bringing of Rauschenberg’s Oracle sculptures out of the closet. The five piece interactive sculpture is displayed together... [more]
        I live in a city to which I don’t belong, and never will. I live in a city together with others who don’t belong. We are all in a strange world, together, creating community among people who don’t belong. Paris is a city of clichés, a city many people imagine they have a stake in, but this has not been a reality in my experience of Paris. I might be here for years, and yet, no matter how good my French gets, no matter how well I think I have integrated into French life, really, I... [more]
William Kentridge: Seemingly Endless Layers   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
William Kentridge at Jeu de Paume June 29th, 2010 - September 5th, 2010
Posted 7/18/10
        When I first saw William Kentridge’s work at the Documenta X in Kassel in 1997, I was mesmerized. I was fascinated by the seemingly endless layers, both literal and conceptual, of images that were always in the process of transformation, being drawn, changed, erased, added to. The process of inscription and erasure, and the animation of the inanimate through stop motion technique reminded me of the early animation of filmmakers such as Emil Kohl, who, like Kentridge was engaged in... [more]
        As always, I came away from Friday night at the Louvre filled with ideas and inspiration. However, rather than being mesmerized by old master paintings, it was the complex and intriguing films of contemporary artist Mark Lewis that were the topic of the “face à face” series in the Auditorium. The woman who chaired the discussions apologized for the fact that Lewis’ films were being projected in a cinema, rather than looped on monitors in a gallery space. However, their mode of... [more]
A Day at the d'Orsay   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
at Musée d'Orsay March 16th, 2010 - June 27th, 2010
Posted 6/7/10
      My friend and I met for a much needed art afternoon on Friday. We decided on Crime and Punishment at the Musée d’Orsay as it seemed to be the talk of the town. Like all the big exhibitions at major museums in Paris, there were some extraordinary single pieces that blew me away — the Géricault “etude” on the exhibition’s publicity, Victor Hugo drawings and charcoals, a handful of rare Goyas and more. But also consistent with these major shows, it was difficult, if not impossible to get... [more]
When Land Meets Sea Meets Sky   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Jan Dibbets at Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris / ARC February 19th, 2010 - May 10th, 2010
Posted 5/9/10
      The great lover of modern painting that I am, means I was destined to be enthralled by the latest exhibition of Jan Dibbets’ work, Horizons, at the Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville de Paris (on view from February 19 - May 2, 2010). No other motif has been as important to the modernist search for an understanding of our relationship to the world, especially as it is discovered through the sense of sight, as the horizon. It’s difficult to think of a twentieth-century artist who hasn’t... [more]
On Lucian Freud   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Lucian Freud at Centre Pompidou March 10th, 2010 - July 19th, 2010
Posted 4/4/10
I came away from the Lucien Freud exhibition, L’Atelier, at the Centre Pompidou very relieved that I was having dinner with my friend Anne, rather than Freud himself. This small exhibition of Freud’s work (painted in his London studio) was intense, emotionally challenging, and ultimately quite difficult. I admire the force of Freud’s painting, the power of his brushstroke and the transparency of his representational process; I find his intellectual engagement with the history of painting... [more]
Thoughts on Muniz and Gronon  
Vik Muniz at Sikkema Jenkins & Co. September 6th, 2008 - October 11th, 2008
Posted 3/17/10
Coming to New York, I was caught up in the excitement of the uncanny simultaneity of Vik Muniz’s and Philippe Gronon’s exhibitions, both titled , both purporting to be meticulous re-productions of the back of twentieth-century modern master paintings, both having been researched in the vaults of great museums, Muniz in New York, Gronon in France. The only difference, or so I was lead to believe, was that Muniz crafted a replica of the object itself, whereas Gronon photographically re-presented... [more]
      The Centre Pompidou's “unveiling" (their word) of emerging talent in the Prospectif Cinéma series presented the young Israeli born film and videomaker Omer Fast, with the exhibition of his 2009 installation, Nostalgia, which was shown at the Whitney Biennial and various other museums and gallery spaces. Before the projection commenced, I was skeptical of seeing a three part video installation on single screen projection in the big upstairs cinema at the Pompidou Center. But my... [more]
Esther Shalev-Gerz   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Esther Shalev-Gerz at Jeu de Paume February 9th, 2010 - June 6th, 2010
Posted 3/2/10
      After a matter of minutes in Esther Shalev-Gerz’ latest exhibition at the Jeu de Paume, I felt as though I was back in the world of story telling and moving images, examining the process of remembering and making sense of memories through telling and listening to stories. And like Omar Fast’s videos, Shalev-Gerz is interested over and over again in the immigrant experience of displacement. That said, the images of the two artists couldn’t be more different.I can’t think of another film... [more]
Down the Ladder into the Pit of Hell   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Christian Boltanski at Grand Palais January 13th, 2010 - February 21st, 2010
Posted 1/18/10
      As we stepped inside the Grand Palais last night, attacked by the deafening and unpredictable noises of what could have been an industrial site in full swing, or the engine room of an old train, James announced, “we are all off to Auschwitz.” And each step we took into the heart of Christian Boltanski’s newly installed edition of the Monumenta series, was like a step further down the ladder into the pit of Dante’s hell.I am a big Boltanski fan, in fact, I would even go so far as to say... [more]
"> In amongst the religious paintings of the Flemmish school, this wonderful painting “le Peseur d’or et sa femme” by Quentin Metsys (1514) is, in every way, at odds with those that surround it at its home in the Louvre. At first glance, it is a painting about the secular activity of counting money that sits between much larger religious oil on wood paintings. Similarly, its domestic interior seems far from the landscape backgrounds to Christ and his followers in other paintings. And... [more]
Postmodernism and Albert Oehlen   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Albert Oehlen at Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris / ARC October 1st, 2009 - January 11th, 2010
Posted 1/10/10
With the Centre Pompidou having been closed due to continuing industrial disputes, the Albert Oehlen exhibition at the Musée de l'art Moderne de Paris was one of the only contemporary art exhibitions on in Paris over the holidays. While I wouldn’t rush to see it, it’s certainly a pleasant way to spend an afternoon; but I am not sure it is much more than that.I was excited at the prospect of seeing so much of Albert Oehlen’s work in one place. His works which sit at a crossroads between... [more]
Rembrandt: Portraits   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Posted 12/20/09
    Rembrandt’s exquisite self-portraits are as enigmatic and mysterious as the eyes that follow us before The Syndics. In another room of the Rijksmuseum is an early Self-Portrait (1628) we have seen  many times before in reproduction. As always, it’s the light that enchants me, frustrates me and seduces me. My fascination with this inexplicable beam of light does not begin and end with the way it illuminates the skin on the face on which it falls. The light itself is so clear, so defined,... [more]
If  my  journey to Madrid was a pilgrimage to Vélasquez and Goya, Amsterdam held the promise of Rembrandt. Like Las Meninas and The Third of May, Rembrandt’s paintings have become so clichéd (thanks to their mass distribution in every possible medium) that I wondered if there was anything left for me to see. And though it took some time to shift from seeing the images I expected to see to those before me in the Rijksmuseum, once in the world of Rembrandt van Rijn, it was as though I was there... [more]
Apichatpong Weerasethakul: About light   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Apichatpong Weerasethakul at Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris / ARC October 1st, 2009 - January 3rd, 2010
Posted 12/14/09
    At the entrance to the installation at the Musee d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, there is a 10 minute film Phantoms of Nabua (2009) that is conceived as a preface or exposition to the forms and ideas of the larger installation. I couldn’t help seeing this film as encapsulating everything that interests me and seduces me about the cinema. I have seen Apichatpong Weerasethakul’s films before in the movie theater, and was so much more taken and entranced by these examples in the... [more]
Pierre Soulages: The Mystery of Color   Pick-button-f22fa879042524f5c7b8d2278b2983b8
Pierre Soulages at Centre Pompidou October 14th, 2009 - March 8th, 2010
Posted 11/8/09
      I have to admit I had not heard of Pierre Soulages before I saw the poster for his latest exhibition at the Pompidou Center. This, together with the fact I didn’t feel as though I spent enough time with the later paintings in the final rooms of the exhibition, makes my thoughts and impressions of his work seem incomplete.My disclaimers aside, as I walked around the chronologically organized exhibition, watching the paintings get larger and larger, I was overwhelmed by how very... [more]
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