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"Le Decor et Son Double" exhibition by Daniel Buren opens at S.M.A.K
Daniel Buren, Le Decor et son Double. Photo: Dirk Pauwels.

GHENT.- The work entitled Le Décor et son Double by the French artist Daniel Buren (b. BoulogneBillancourt, 1938) has a specific link with the history of S.M.A.K. For the Chambres d’Amis exhibition in 1986 Buren applied his familiar banded motif to the guest room in the house of the art collectors Annick and Anton Herbert. He also installed an identical room in the museum at the time. This public half of Le Décor et son Double is now being shown again for the first time and is also being incorporated into the S.M.A.K. collection.

Buren was one of the 51 artists who were invited by Jan Hoet, director of what was then Museum of Contemporary Art in Ghent and is now S.M.A.K., to create a site-specific work in a private house in Ghent’s inner city. Buren’s Le Décor et son Double was a work in two parts. In accordance with the instructions for Chambres d’Amis, Buren intervened in the Herberts’ home by covering the diagonally bisected half of a guest room with wallpaper in bands of fuchsia and white. But at the same time, and contrary to the spirit of Chambres d’Amis, he built an reconstruction of the room in the museum, with the other half of the coloured bands. This made the two ‘décors’ complementary copies of each other

Le Décor et son Double not only caused controversy among the artists taking part, it also questioned the relationship between the museum director and the private collector. Whereas the Herberts preserved Buren’s intervention in their guest room, the public copy was lost. Now, 25 years after Chambres d’Amis, thanks to the support of the Flemish Community and the City of Ghent, S.M.A.K. is able to reconstruct the public half of this key work and add it to its collection. This is the first time that the Flemish Community, under the jurisdiction of the Flemish Minister for Culture Joke Schauvliege, and the City of Ghent, under the jurisdiction of deputy major for Culture Lieven Decaluwe, have jointly purchased a contemporary work.

“Although the Herbert Foundation and the SMAK each own a unique and specific work, the two parts can only be truly understood when – in the imagination – they are associated.” Daniel Buren, in Le Décor et son Double 1986/2011, Ghent, 2011, p. 1.

The substantive cooperation on Le Décor et son Double can be seen as an example of the way S.M.A.K. intends to increasingly integrate the expertise and unique involvement of private collectors into its work. What is more, this project emphasises the particular attention the museum, as an intermediary between art and the public, pays to the interaction between contemporary art, areas of social, political and cultural tension, and public space. Another large-scale exhibition that fits into this framework is TRACK, which, in line with Chambres d’Amis and Over the Edges (2000), will offer thirty international artists the opportunity to occupy the centre and outskirts of Ghent as from 12th May 2012.

The reconstruction of Le Décor et son Double in S.M.A.K. will be accompanied by a publication and an exhibition, with a reading room and videos by Jef Cornelis, Gilles Coudert, Sébastien Pluot and others. With an essay of Maria Schnyder.

SMAK | Le Decor et Son Double | Daniel Buren |

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