One really fantastic thing about living in Brussels is its great geographical location!
It makes it possible to go to Paris within 2 hours. So we kind of have to take the chance to go to this wonderful metropole to see some of the current exhibitions of our interest. Those large scale exhibitions are hosted by two very much different institutions, the 1977 opened Centre Pompidou in the heart of the city and the Fondation Luis Vuitton, which opened its doors in 2006, in Jardin d'acclimatation. These immense super-buildings couldn’t be more different - from the architectural point of view as well as from their mission.
Let’s start with FRANZ WEST at Centre Pompidou, a building & multidisciplinary institution that I still love so much! Especially the feeling one gets walking through the glazed hallways on the outside of the building, which kind of puts over the normally inner constructions to the outside. It’s a present to the public as it, among all the other specialities, allows the visitor to feel like walking above Paris with exceptional views. But let’s enter the exhibition, which is praised as the first posthumous large scale retrospective of Austrian artist Franz West, who passed away in 2012, which will go on to Tate Modern in London next year. There are three parties fussing around the meanwhile worth millions’ heritage of West, and therefore it’s quite hard to come up with an exhibition like this. As a confessing fan of his approach and œvre, I’ve been a bit disappointed about the space they gave this exhibition. It includes quite a lot of pieces from different periods, forms and materials brought together in a slightly narrow space. Everything shown in a strictly chronological way and somehow missing the necessary air to breathe. Still, it made a lot of fun to go through the exhibition, working with some of his pieces Passtücke, and reflecting on his audience including approach to art.
Well, the Jean-Michel Basquiat exhibition at Fondation Luis Vuitton was an absolute highlight - not only of this visit in Paris, but also of a personal long list of exhibition visits. I’ve been adoring Basquiat’s work for a long time, have seen some works in real here and there, but now this retrospective with 120 works, including several pieces first time shown in Europe, made a dream come true. Once in the exhibition you hardly feel the extroverted architecture except the huge and wide spaces - it takes about 10 rooms to navigate through the exhibition. I don’t know where to start - one can see the absolute peaks of his short, but extremely intensive career, but also less known and more quiet pieces. After looking so much into catalogues, books and documentations it is fantastic to see his works in real; the materials, colours, and the space-taking object character of his work can’t be communicated via printed documents. A fantastic exhibition*
Not enough, at the same time there is the œvre of another guy who already died at the age of 28 years on display at the Fondation Luis Vuitton - it’s the incredible work by Austrian artist Egon Schiele, who’s drawings I adore! Even though I can draw some lines between the work of Basquiat and Schiele, maybe it’s more recommendable to see their exhibitions separated from each other. It’s quite a stunning body of work they brought together at Fondation Luis Vuitton and as an Austrian it’s highly interesting how his work is looked at in France.
The building itself - well the money behind it makes such exhibitions possible, but I absolutely can’t link Frank Gehry’s architectural “masterpiece” with the things I highly appreciated to see inside. What sense does it make to build such an incredible building, where it is necessary to make build white cubes inside which display exhibitions as they could be anywhere in other white cubes (of that size) in the world?
When I reached the building I thought this could maybe fit for an opera house or philharmonics where it is necessary that the architecture goes along with sound qualities and the like … well, I am not an architecture expert in any way, but as an art producer I prefer buildings which go into dialogue with what the construction is meant to be used for. And of course money is an argument - can’t imagine how much that house cost and what could have been possible to invest into contemporary art otherwise.
… I don’t need to mention the many other little beautiful moments Paris offered to us. An especially cool thing - after staying in a squat at Place du Voges last time, an artist colleague’s mum invited us to sleep in the upper floor of her tiny little gallery and architecture office in the heart of the centre. Love such adventures! We’ll be back*
For the whole blog of the brusselsARTproject click here.