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La maison rouge celebrates anniversary with exibition of works from the collection of Antoine de Galbert
Installation view.

For its tenth anniversary, la maison rouge presents, from June 14th to September 21st 2014, Le mur (The Wall) – works from the collection of Antoine de Galbert, the eleventh in a series of exhibitions showing private collections.

After ten exhibitions showing diverse collectors’ worlds, this anniversary brings a much-awaited opportunity for a broader presentation of the collection assembled by la maison rouge’s founder and chairman, Antoine de Galbert; an important part of his personal life and one rarely seen outside the private sphere until now. Unlike the previous showings of private collections, for which curators made representative choices from a large body of works, Antoine de Galbert has imagined a very particular approach to this hanging:

“The idea for this exhibition came to me during my daily browsing of the books in my library. Volumes are classed alphabetically, which produces some unexpected propinquities. Jean Dubuffet and Marcel Duchamp are neighbours. When I look at this Noah’s Ark, I feel all the artists are navigating the same river, for the same reasons, as Christian Boltanski observed: “Whether Aloïse, myself, or a sixteenth-century painter, the same questions are raised: death, the quest for beauty, nature, sex… There are a limited number of subjects in art. Only the words and the vocabularies change (…)1”. The library is an archive of the collection, visual souvenirs of a long journey, and the collector’s imaginary museum. […] Leaving aside an idea certain curators have already explored, namely to hang the works alphabetically, I decided on a hanging that would present the majority of the works in my collection in an order that would be defined by a computer programme with, as sole data, their size when framed and inventory number. The programme was developed by an IT specialist using the Monte-Carlo method, a process that will be familiar to mathematicians. It calculates a numerical value using random processes, i.e. probabilistic techniques. Its name alludes to the random nature of casino games.

Works are hung irrespective of shape, size, medium, history, monetary value or the artist’s repute. To ensure a minimum of coherency, only works of modern and contemporary art are included. They are by artists of different ages and nationalities, male and female. Doubtless they would have liked to see their work shown in perfect conditions, on a blank wall, at an ideal height, at a reasonable distance from other artists’ work. I hope they will forgive what may resemble a lack of respect for their work. I hope too that the curators, whom I respect and with whom la maison rouge frequently collaborates, do not imagine that this Wall challenges their legitimate role or, even more so, is in any way a criticism on my part.

It remains to be seen, for I am writing these lines before the final result is revealed, whether our public really can see and engage with these works. Still, as in everyday life, the more “unseeable” something is, the greater our desire to see.” (Antoine de Galbert in The Wall, published by Fage Éditions, catalogue to the exhibition)

The exhibition does not present Antoine de Galbert’s complete collection; installations, sculptures, videos, indigenous art and older works are excluded, hence visitors will be offered only a partial view of the collection. Rather, Le mur (The Wall) will raise a certain number of questions concerning the actual act of collecting, hanging, storing and showing art. It is also a diachronic portrait of a collector who reveals his likes and tastes to the world without disowning any of his choices, past or present. Ultimately the visitor makes his or her own selection, invents their own itinerary, guided by their own perception, curiosity and tastes…

In its own way, this unconventional divulging forms a sequel to the presentation of works from Antoine de Galbert’s collection that was part of the foundation’s inaugural exhibition, L’Intime (Behind closed doors: the private life of collections), where works borrowed from the hallway of his home were hung frame against frame to welcome the first visitors to la maison rouge.

Bringing an additional unexpected dimension to this project, Antoine de Galbert has invited Claude Rutault to react to this random hanging. The artist, whose paintings are intimately related to the walls on which they are shown, responded by proposing the first ever updating of his Definition/Method collection 23, apparitions 2012, in which canvases of various shapes and sizes are painted the same colour as the wall on which they are hung, and spread throughout the gallery space.

Le mur (The Wall) shows Definition/Method diptyque/rutault 2011, which Antoine de Galbert acquired a few months ago through a trade.

A painting from the collection by Eugène Leroy is shown with a canvas by Rutault having the same dimensions and painted the same colour as the wall.

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