Monday, October 18, 2010

Tantrums, Accumulations, and more...New Realism

In Paris, the first visit on my list: Arman (1928-2005) at the Centre Pompidou. I was curious to see a restropective of the artist who made the news when I grew up. Would I find his works provocative? irrelevant?

The visit brought me along the artist's path, from his Allures, his Cachets in the 1950's and 60's to the last piece called The Day After, 1984. The exhibition was presented by themes and more or less chronological order. Poubelles, Coleres and Coupes, Accumulations, Art Industry. The object is shattered, recreated, accumulated and acquires a soul in the process, brings the emotion: repulsion in front of the Poubelles Organiques (Organic Garbages), horror when looking at the Accumulation of gas masks titled "Home Sweet Home", 1960, discomfort in front of the "Portrait-robot of Eliane", a morbid display of her personal belongings. The "Portrait-robot of Yves Klein" , his friend, is touching, a judo uniform, an old tie, a crumbled letter, a blue page, a leaf, like relics in the transparent square box. The works can bring a smile, "Kill them all and let God sort them out" an accumulation of insects sprays or serious thoughts, "The Massacre of the Innocents", an accumulation of broken dolls.

With his Tantrums or Rages, the artist destroys the object, and I still cannot understand why so many instruments inspired this violence: banjos, mandolines, violins, cellos, pianos, trumpets... I understand the broken televisions, tables, cars...

Along the works, great videos from the artist can be looked at, also a very special document, the manifest of the New Realism signed by Arman, Yves Klein, Restany and others.

The last section (1980's) shows Arman, painter again, using colors with the same rage. He throws the paint directly on the canvas, walks on it, smashes the tubes. Some of his late works appear fake, Arman becomes a caricature and like any artist repeating himself, his message becomes flat like in "Hello Jackson" 1990, "Starry Night", 1995 or "Desert Bike", 1991.

The exhibition finishes with one of his darker work: "The Day After" made in bronze, a remake of his Combustions from the 1970s: a show of the anguish caused by the destruction of a civilization represented by the object which represents that it?

I highly recommend this exhibition, the curators have ensured that all the major works of the artist are included and presented in an interesting context.

Arman still surprises me. His message is relevant today. The headline news are about crowds burning cars in France, adolescents destroying the objects which define the daily world they resent and feel powerless to change.

photographs were not allowed

bottom photograph from the author: "La Victoire de Salemotrice", 1967, Accumulation Renault

1 comment:

Sylvie Contiguglia said...

The blog was started exactly a year ago, first post the 18th of October,2009.