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Wallpapers by Contemporary Artists and Designers at Musée de design et d'arts appliqués contemporains
A man looks at a comical trompe l'oeil of an alcoholic drink collection entitled 'Beer Can Library' from the American artist Virgil Marti at the exhibition 'Covering the wall, Contemporary wallpapers' at the museum of MUDAC in Lausanne, Switzerland, 02 November 2010. The exhibition runs from 03 November 2010 until 13 February 2011. EPA/DOMINIC FAVRE.
LAUSANNE.- The mudac and the Musée de Pully have joined forces to present an exceptional exhibition devoted to wallpapers by contemporary artists and designers. Redoubling the available display wall space, these two institutions invite viewers to make highly innovative discoveries among recent creations by today’s artists and designers. An ethereal scenographic frame devoid of all furnishings or additions to the wallpapers assigns its true status and function to the medium.

Over the last ten years, following upon wallpaper’s gradual loss of popularity in favor of more minimalist decors, wall coverings have made a strong come-back in our homes and on the white walls of art spaces. Artists and designers have regained interest in the medium, reverting to its colors, patterns and even forms of support: their latest creations are highly original, demanding and technological. By focusing on questions of discourse, status and techniques—as brought across by contemporary wallpapers—this exhibition presents a major chapter of the research carried out by visual artists on this support’s formal aspects and its technical constraints.

The exhibition Face au mur. Papiers peints contemporains deliberately juxtaposes creations by visual artists with those by designers, in the intention of making viewers aware of the new enthusiasm this medium inspires, as much in its producers—artists and designers—as in its users. The some sixty wallpapers on display in Face au mur make of it the most significant show on the subject to date. Moreover, the catalogue accompanying the exhibition represents the first Frenchlanguage publication on contemporary wallpaper.

The artists
The wealth of the works produced by the artists selected for this show attests to wallpaper’s very capacity to convey discourse, and this in any vein. Questioning the status of the work of art per se, the artists ascribe new functions to wallpaper, even beyond the medium’s decorative purpose. Thus, for instance, Andy Warhol’s manner of covering the walls before hanging up his paintings on them. Then, too, certain engaged artists make use of wallpaper to denounce social, racial or political injustices: Francesco Simeti, Parastou Forouhar and General Idea. Others resort to patterns of repeat motifs, which they are as wont to borrow from the realm of mass communication as from the medium’s traditional iconography, as illustrated by the Toile de Jouy motifs used by the artist Kent Henriksen.

The designers
As for the designers, they have developed new uses for wallpaper, leading them to take unprecedented approaches, at times of a surprising nature and at times in a provocative spirit. The Parisian graphic artists M/M produce large posters to be pasted, bearing a pattern resembling Rorschach tests. The Dutch firm Droog Design has brought out a monochrome wallpaper that is pierced, allowing the motifs of the paper it covers to show through. 5.5 Designers have come up with interactive wallpapers covered with games in which they invite us to participate. The German designer team Surrealien comes close to producing a one-off: they offer custom-made wallpaper taking into account surface interruptions such as windows or electric outlets, which the wallpaper pattern elegantly skirts.

New technologies
Several artists and designers seek to challenge our outlook on decorated walls by resorting to new technologies. The most unusual results include, amongst others, the digital images that Brigitte Zieger creates: projected against the walls, her Toile De Jouy motifs spring to life, to the viewers’ amazement. Other ideas include the creation of sound-absorbing wall coverings—Florence Doléac comes to mind. Equally innovative is the FabLabWall wallpaper: designed by Jean-Louis Fréchin and Uros Petrevski of the NoDesign.net firm, it appears thanks to a new iPhone application—a personalized wallpaper concept that won them the 2010 WallpaperLab (Paris) Prize.

The exhibition is built up along thematic lines, with an eye to revealing links among wallpapers by different creators—artists or designers.

mudac | Lausanne | "Face au mur" |




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