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Marlborough and Steinitz Gallery present unique, off-site installation: Le Cabinet de Curiosités
Manolo Valdes, Mariposas doradas II, 2011. Brass, 30 x 87 x 30.

NEW YORK, N.Y.- Marlborough and Steinitz galleries announce the opening of Le Cabinet de Curiosités, conceived and curated by Thierry W Despont, opening on Saturday, November 12th in the former headquarters of New York Mercantile Exchange at 6 Harrison Street. Le Cabinet de Curiosités is a unique, off-site installation in which contemporary art converges with 18th- and 19th-century antiquities in a setting that blurs the confines of time and categorization. Le Cabinet de Curiosités presents work by Marlborough artists Thierry W Despont, Manolo Valdés and the late Claudio Bravo, as well as rare antique furniture from the Steinitz Collection. The exhibition will continue through January 31, 2012.

The works of Despont, Valdés and Bravo, though individually diverse, are rooted in shared cultural memories reflected through a veil of historical reference and trompe l’oeil. Despont’s assemblage sculptures, such as exhibition centerpiece MS 25 (2011), are made of found objects and tools and resemble insects and fantastical creatures with metal bodies covered with the patina of a forgone age. His Nebula paintings of imaginary planets and orbs, and an astronomer’s cabinet create a room of wonder where scientific exploration blends with artistic imagination.

Manolo Valdés’ sculptures offer fresh three dimensional interpretations of Matisse, Velázquez and Picasso’s works, incorporating contemporary reference into classical presentation. Also included in the show are Valdés’ Libreria series (2010), which look like bookcases, ordinary from afar, but upon closer inspection are derived from segments of blank, raw, exotic woods, coyly implementing trompe l’oeil to comment on the use of books as fetish objects of aesthetic pleasure. These works are emblematic of Le Cabinet de Curiosités, seducing the viewer into a domestic familiarity, and then abruptly disorienting them.

Claudio Bravo’s hyperrealist works present the most traditional trompe l’oeil technique in the show. His depictions of creased and crumpled paper and of the backs of paintings, some wrapped, invoke beauty, life and emotion in otherwise mundane objects. Works such as Four Blue Papers (2011), exemplify this transformative mastery of painting, putting forth a warmth and level of detail transcending even the most precise photorealist. Le Cabinet de Curiosités is the first posthumous exhibition of Claudio Bravo’s work.

With Le Cabinet de Curiosités, Despont utilizes his expertise in both art and architecture to present a completely integrated environment. The exhibition is framed within 17th- and 18th Century boiseries from Steinitz’s collection. Despont’s use of historical and period rooms interacts with the artwork presented. The space is a multi-sensory layered experience that is meant to evoke a sense of wonder and fantasy - a place in which an object can be viewed and experienced both contextually and individually.

Among the furniture and architectural materials featured in Le Cabinet de Curiosités by Steinitz Gallery are an Empire Table, dated 1810, in which Napoleon Bonaparte etched out his battle plans, and the Hercules Table (1770-1785) decorated with Hercules attributes (clubs, lion skin and chains) created for Philippe Marquis de Segur, Marechal de France. Since its founding in 1968 by Benjamin Steinitz’s father, Steinitz Gallery has been internationally recognized for its eclectic collection of rare objects and talent for the theatrical display of its discoveries that span the Middle Ages through the 20th Century. Its premises, an entire hôtel particulier from the 19th Century, is located just across the hotel Bristol at 77 rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré, Paris.

This presentation by international galleries Marlborough and Steinitz will be open to the public at 6 Harrison Street, 2nd Floor, New York, NY 10003, from November 15th through January 31st. Exhibition hours are 11am-5pm, Tuesday through Saturday.

Thierry W Despont is an architect, designer and artist who lives and works in New York. Despont has been represented by Marlborough Gallery since 2002 and has shown his work in New York, Paris, London, Monaco and Buenos Aires.

Despont is a graduate of the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, Paris, and holds a Master’s Degree of Urban Design and City Planning from Harvard University. Among his many spectacular public projects are the Centennial restoration of the Statue of Liberty, New York, the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue, New York, and Claridge’s and Dorchester Hotels in London. Despont is a recipient of the prestigious honors of the Chevalier de l’Ordre National de la Légion d’Honneur and Chevalier de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres.

His artwork has been seen in numerous solo and group exhibitions, including shows at Marlborough Chelsea and London. Recent projects include an exhibition of sculpture at Rahmi M. Koç Museum, Istanbul and a solo exhibition in Venice during the 2011 Venice Biennale. One of his “Cabinets” is in the permanent collection of The Denver Art Museum.

Manolo Valdés is one of the most important and respected Spanish artists working today. Best known for his passion for past masters from Zurbarán to Velázquez, Matisse to Lichtenstein, Valdés uses their work “as a pretext” to create an entirely new aesthetic object.

Valdés has won numerous awards and represented Spain at the Venice Biennale. His work has been exhibited at the Guggenheim Bilbao; and in 2010, he opened a public art exhibition, Manolo Valdés: Monumental Sculpture on Broadway, where sixteen sculptures were displayed in New York City on Broadway from Columbus Circle to 166th Street. Valdés’ work is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, New York; The Museum of Fine Arts in Boston, Massachusetts; Musée Picasso, Antibes, France, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, France; as well as a number of museums in Spain and Germany.

Claudio Bravo was a Chilean painter who lived and worked in Morocco and was represented by Marlborough Gallery for three decades. His work may be found in collections of museums around the world including the Baltimore Museum of Art, Maryland; Ludwig Museum, Cologne, Germany; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museo Nacional de Bellas Arte, Santiago, Chile; Museum Boymansvan Beunigen, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania; and the Rufino Tamayo Museum of International Contemporary Art, Mexico. Bravo’s work was exhibited at the Venice Biennale in 2007, the prestigious Institut du Monde Arabe in Paris in 2004 and in a number of major art institutions throughout the world.

In 1996 Bravo received the prestigious Gold Medal of Honor from Casita Maria settlement house of New York, in 2000 he received the “Art Miami International Distinguished Artist Award” and in 2005 he was inducted into the Pastel Society of America’s Hall of Fame.

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