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School Gallery, courtyard on Rue du Temple, Paris, France.


By Philip Auslander
The Art Section

Welcome to spring--it's becoming quite green and beautiful around us--and to the March issue of TAS! For me, the contributions to this issue all concern the power of art and the force it exerts in our lives. Anna Leung's essay on the Italian Futurists, inspired by a visit to the Futurism 100! exhibition at the Estorick Collection in London, reminds us that there was a time when people believed fervently that art could wield real social and political power, that aesthetic innovation was an essential companion to social change--perhaps, even, that aesthetic innovation could bring about social change. This desire led the Futurists into an unfortunate alliance with Fascism; as Anna points out, however, the congruences between Futurism and Fascism have been overstated. And the desire to believe that art can exert direct, instrumental power in the social and political spheres persists.

We are pleased to offer a selection of poems from the Washington, D.C. based Francis Raven. These poems suggest the ability of works of art to hold captive our attention, perception, imagination, and thought: they trace what happens in our minds when looking at art, the associations we make when seeing paintings that are at a historical remove from us, the ways we both connect them to our own experiences and oblige them to remain at a distance. Raven also evokes our sense as viewers of the art-making process that must have led to the image we see, yet remains elusive.

Finally, Editor-in-Chief Deanna Sirlin brings us up to date on developments on the Paris art scene through an account of some young galleries she visited there and an interview she conducted with three gallerists whose spaces are new to that scene. Each gallerist evinces a strong desire that the gallery not be just a store for art, that it be the locus of a community constituted by gallerists, artists, viewers, critics, and others. Optimally, this community should hold the art work at its center--the art is its reason for being. The passionate commitment to art and artists that led these three people to set up galleries in a highly competitive environment during difficult economic times is palpable in their words (which we present here both in English translation and the original French).

All my best,




Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916). Dinamismo di un ciclista [Dynamism of a cyclist] (1913).
Courtesy of the Estorick Collection, London, UK.

Futurism 100!
At the Estorick Collection

by Anna Leung

Except in struggle there is no beauty. No work without an aggressive character can be a masterpiece. Poetry must be conceived as a violent attack on unknown forces, to reduce them and prostrate them before man.

We will glorify war – the world’s only hygiene – militarism, patriotism, the destructive gesture of freedom-bringers, beautiful ideas worth dying for, and scorn of women.

Art, in fact, can be nothing but violence, cruelty and injustice.

   --F. T. Marinetti, The Foundation and Manifesto of Futurism, February 1909
It is exactly a hundred years since Marinetti’s Foundation and Manifesto of Futurism was published on the front page, then the arts page, of the Paris newspaper Le Figaro. Though obviously targeting the Italian ex patriot intellectuals and artists who had been drawn to Paris in the first decade of the century, it was also aimed at the Parisian intelligentsia. Publishing the Manifesto in Paris gave it instant avant-garde credibility. Although the Manifesto was Italian in provenance and orientation, this extraordinary editorial coup proclaimed its international status, thus ensuring that Futurism was taken seriously and not rejected out of hand as a provincial movement. (The Manifesto was in fact published simultaneously in Italian in Poesia, a literary magazine but significantly was also printed in broadsheet form and sent to well known public figures all over Italy. Marinetti is said to have received more than ten thousand letters in response to this publication, many positive.)

The manner in which Marinetti proposes the main elements of a Futurist aesthetic, and the way he perceives the role of the artist and the function of art within society, have lost none of their capacity to shock. Futurism dealt a double blow to the art world; it was aimed principally at the complacency of the Bourgeoisie but, as the first of the self-consciously avant-garde movements to emerge in the course of the 20th century, it dealt an equally vicious blow not just to the art institution but to the avant-garde per se. However, unlike Dada, which borrowed many of its ideas and techniques from the Futurists, including their bruitism (noise performances that were likely to include all manner of noise makers), nonsense syllabic poetry and provocative performances, Futurism was not explicitly anti-art. Rather, it was for an art which was no longer clogged up with symbolist nostalgia, an art which looked not back to the past for reassurance but ostentatiously to the future. Tradition had to be ruthlessly extirpated - it had held Italy back for too long, making it a cultural backwater of Europe. Futurism presented itself, therefore, as a challenge to academism and its outmoded cultural values, based for far too long on the dead weight of the Italian Renaissance, but it was also a xenophobic project in praise of war and military adventurism with war celebrated as the loudest most chaotic of all futurist performances. This is the link between Futurism and Fascism that this exhibition, with its one room devoted to the Futurist Umberto Boccioni and another devoted to the contemporary Italian artist Luca Buvoli, seeks to address.

The 19th century avant-garde had been seen as a leftist project. Its utopian credentials, whether associated with the Arts and Crafts movement in England under Ruskin and Morris or with the anarchist movement in Paris with which Georges Seurat had an association, were premised on the necessity for equality and justice for the workingman whose livelihood was endangered by modernity and the tyranny of the machine. The Futurist artist, on the other hand, was to become an activist whose individual future and whose country’s future were to be intimately bound up with the machine as the main agent of change that could redress the political status of Italy. This was in fact no empty talk. For whereas Italy had lagged behind other industrial nations in the first phase of the industrial revolution that was primarily coal based, and consequently suffered from a serious inferiority complex in its inability to compete as an equal with the other industrialised countries, especially Germany which like Italy had only just become a nation state, by the 1900’s it began to catch up with the second phase based on electricity and the internal combustion engine. The development of hydro-electric power was especially important because of Italy’s lack of coal. In the early 20th century, Italy effectively lived through two industrial revolutions at the same time, leading to many cultural incongruities as the old established Italy was juxtaposed with the new pragmatic realities of the industrial age.

For the Futurist artist, the machine was therefore the symbol neither of servitude, as in Britain, nor of rational design, as it was in Germany, but rather of uncontainable vitality. The car was admirably suited to Marinetti’s aesthetic, a romanticised vision of technology that celebrated man’s victory over Nature. Significantly, conversion and baptism into this new religion of Futurism was recounted in the Manifesto in a highly stylised, theatrical narrative of an automobile accident in which Marinetti and friends out on a midnight rampage were flung from their automobile into a “maternal ditch”. Marinetti then proclaims, “when I came up – torn, filthy and stinking- from under the capsized car I felt the white –hot iron of joy deliciously pass through my heart.” Futurism, as defined by the eleven-point program outlined in the Manifesto that provided the theoretical basis for all aspects of Futurist art making, was born of that moment. As we shall see when we focus on Boccioni, however, the theory far preceded actual art practice.

Central to the Manifesto was the creation of a new ideology that in Marinetti’s symbolist rhetoric was raised to the level of a new post Nietzschean godless religion based on speed. Marinetti argued that speed, whose essence was the “the intuitive synthesis of all forces in movement,” was by nature pure. Futurism effectively replaced the binary values of good and evil with “a new good: speed, and a new evil; slowness.” This binary opposition should be kept in mind when we come to Buvoli’s installation. Translating modernism into Bergsonian terms of dynamic change, speed comes to incarnate the Absolute in this life by guaranteeing man’s, and an essentially masculinist, victory over time and space. Pictorially as well as verbally what this first called for was the destruction of the autonomous art form, art for art’s sake, upon which most modernism was based. In Futurist performances, the poem was enunciated with the maximum of disturbance, becoming a parody of itself; in the pictorial arts, the composition was no longer a balanced composition but a collage of events that entailed the loss of a dominant image just as in the poem what was lost was the authorial “I.”

A central ordering system was replaced in both cases by incidents, accidents and the possibilities of discourses, all of which were not intrinsic to art but related to the life taking place around us. What is obliterated is the difference between the real world and the pictorial or poetic field of activity. What is focused on is the coming into being of things and the importance of improvisation. What results is the breakdown of all barriers and the fusion of the environment with the object and of the subject with the world. There is an interesting remnant of romanticism here in the scattering of the self in the universe and its resurrection in the creation of a super “I,” revealed to twentieth century consciousness in the image of the fearless pilot in his heroic airplane, images that Luca Buvoli uses in his videos. These, however, are not the images that we see in Boccioni’s drawings, which represent an earlier attempt to translate Futurist ideas. It is only gradually and through the implementation of Cubist strategies that Futurist painters and sculptors were able to approach, and eventually realise, Marinetti’s radical ideas.

Umberto Boccioni: Unique Forms
Umberto Boccioni (1882-1916) was born in Reggio Calabria. His father was a mining engineer employed by the government, which meant that the family was continuously on the move during his childhood. From 1899, after studying at local art schools, he moved to Rome where he met the painter Gino Severini and studied divisionism in Giacomo Balla’s studio. In 1906, he left Rome for Paris and, in the summer of the same year, travelled to Russia, returning to Italy by the end of the year, where he settled in Milan. It was here that Marinetti made contact with some of the painters in Boccioni’s circle and, in February of 1910, they published a Manifesto of Futurist Painters. This manifesto, probably edited by Marinetti, demanded a return to a tabula rasa in order to destroy the old conventions based on the cult of the past and that painters give all their combined energies to “our day-to-day world, a world which is going to be continually and splendidly transformed by victorious Science.” It ended with a vow to ‘make room for youth, for violence, for daring.” Ironically Boccioni, who enlisted with the Lombard Volunteer Cyclist Battalion, which was disbanded in 1915, died on the front in the following year having been thrown off his horse,

The drawings that make up Boccioni’s "unique forms" represent an attempt to create art works that do not merely reproduce aspects of contemporary life but also demonstrate how seemingly solid objects are actually defined by the interplay between solid mass and its environment. In Boccioni’s words: “We proclaim the absolute and complete abolition of definite lines and closed sculpture: We break open the figure and enclose it in environment.” Boccioni’s images may at first glance seem unambitious and overly dependent on Cubist syntax. Precisely because the whole concept of linear dynamics as lines of force that interpenetrate all things, breaking down what was assumed to be solid corporeal mass, is so demanding, especially when confined to 2D, Boccioni was wise to limit his first undertakings in the direction of a Futurist aesthetic to the image of the human body. He was attempting to unite interior and exterior, past with present and future, the actual and the remembered within a single image. Indeed in another series of paintings entitled collectively States of Mind, Boccioni explored not just the interaction of solid mass and space but also the fusing of elements in interior landscapes through the narrative of the train station and psychological and emotional responses to travel. In many ways, however, this radical revision of what we see is in fact better served by sculpture whose solid forms could be opened in both active and passive modes to simultaneously enclose and be penetrated by the environment. But even more radical and far seeing was Boccioni’s realisation that traditional sculptural materials needed to be replaced by the introduction of common use materials such as glass, metal, leather, mirrors, electric lights etc., a practice that he may well have appropriated from Vladimir Tatlin’s relief sculptures, seen during his stay in Russia.

It is curious that despite his encouragement to radical artists to “only use very modern and up-to-date subjects in order to arrive at the discovery of NEW PLASTIC IDEAS” Boccioni’s own sculptural works continued to be based on such traditional genres as the human figure or still life object and were cast in bronze rather than making explicit use of new materials (thought it is true that some of his more experimental works are lost). The two sculptures on show are very forceful and far from merely representational. Unique Forms of Continuity in Space (1913), possibly derived from Rodin’s The Walking Man (1877) but fired with a completely different sense of optimism and resolve, is based on the idea of contending force fields that exert their impact on a body striding forward into space, while his still life Development of a Bottle in Space (1912) is his first successful sculpture in the round.

In many ways, the post-Impressionist Italian sculptor Medardo Rosso (1858-1928), whose work can be seen in the Estorick’s permanent collection, prefigured Futurist thinking on sculpture. He rejected the concept of sculpture as statuary and saw it as the impact of space on mass; Boccioni acknowledged his debt to Rosso in the Technical Manifest of Futurist Sculpture. The other great influence was, of course Picasso, especially his cubist heads. However, Boccioni’s own resolution to the problem of capturing the way an object interacts with its environment is best understood in his still life Development of a Bottle in Space. The sculpture is premised on an interplay between solid and void. The bottle in question, with its core of emptiness, arises from a nest of volumes that can either represent the opening up of the object or its enclosure within space. An object in the round, it presents different facets to each viewer, Boccioni giving us the illusion of the spiralling form of the bottle expanding into space while trying to make space itself “palpable, systematic and plastic.” Boccioni treats the space around the bottle as if it were a material substance made up of arabesque curves, so that form no longer takes up space but is generated by it, and in so doing suggests the familiar shape of the bottle.

Luca Buvoli: Velocity Zero
Luca Buvoli’s (b. 1963) installation in Room 2 questions the relationship between the aesthetic and the political in terms of our modern faith in technological progress. A mural painting dominates the gallery space, pulsing with the energy of a very fast moving car, Marinetti’s preferred symbol of progress and modern beauty. This issues from a Rodchenko inspired, larger than life sized drawn head speaking into a megaphone. The speeding car, which threatens at any moment to jump off the surface of the wall, represents both power and loss of control, giving rise to a discourse on the relationship between heroism, vulnerability, and masculinity and the way these are interrelated not just in Italian history but globally when it comes to totalitarian and authoritarian regimes. This image, which stretches across the breadth of the wall, is broken up by a series of propaganda posters and two videos that are equipped with headphones. A Very Beautiful Day After Tomorrow is based on a saying that Marinetti passed on to his daughter Vittoria when the Fascist regime he still supported was close to collapse.

The video, made up principally of an interview with Vittoria, is spliced through with a Fascist patriotic song, “The Aviator’s Song,” sung by a children’s choir. The other video, Excerpts from Velocity Zero on the opposing wall, is made up of excerpts from Marinetti’s 1909 Manifesto but read out by a group of American sufferers from aphasia, a condition that affects speech patterns. In this way the bombastic self promoting rhetoric of the Manifesto is rendered redundant, its triumphalist ideologies made slow and awkward so that they are compromised from within by this performance of painfully laboured, weakly articulated theses that ostensibly celebrate speed and violence and promote the contempt of women. The recorded voices are fragmented, as are the images of the speakers which are captured by fine line drawings, filmed frame by frame, their indeterminacy underlining the basic aim of the Futurists to capture the intersection of subject and the world in a seemingly never ending flux of lines that express their responses to the spoken word.

Patriotism and the cult of violence were not limited to the right wing in Italy. Politically, both the revolutionary left wing syndicalists who were influenced by the writings of Sorel and right wing nationalists rejected reformist Socialism and parliamentary democracy, and both factions supported the Italian claim to Libya to demonstrate to the world Italy’s progression from nationhood to imperialist power. It was this same matrix of activist ideas based on the primacy of Nietzschean affirmation and of intuition over reason and argument that enthused Marinetti’s Futurism. As a group, the Futurists were trenchant in their support of Italy’s intervention in the First World War on the side of Britain and France, seeing this as a continuation of their country’s unification. This hectoring call for military glory anticipated Fascist ideology under Mussolini, modernization and patriotism becoming the two main articles of faith embraced by the Futurists. Some qualifications are in order, however.

First, we should realize that it is all too easy to take Marinetti’s imagery of destruction and renewal too literally. It is important to be aware that he was a poet, and that his language was metaphoric. His imagery of cities in a state of febrile agitation defined not a political but an aesthetic coup d’état.

Second, Futurism was an avant-garde project that was not predominantly rightwing, despite Marinetti’s attempt to make it into a political party in its own right and its subsequent entanglement with Mussolini. Mussolini originally co-opted it, not despite, but because of its leftist leanings. Futurism was however, unquestionably nationalistic in its orientation, which led to its engagement with proto-fascist ideologies that have caused much discomfort in the art world, where avant-garde movements are axiomatically categorised as leftwing and internationalist in spirit. Futurism threatens to turn this alliance between politics and aesthetics inside out.

Futurism 100! brings this paradox out into the open and asks us to consider the relationship between the self-aggrandisement so characteristic of the Futurist artist and the subsequent proponents of Fascism, among whom Marinetti counted himself as one of the most faithful, staying till the bitter end in Mussolini’s short lived republic of Salo. However, it would be as simplistic to equate Fascism and Futurism, especially in the light of Futurism’s natural hostility to the discipline and hierarchy demanded by the Fascist regime as well as its ever more restrictive bureaucracy, as it would be to see Futurism as representing the Fascist state in terms of its artistic production, especially in the light of fascism’s emulation of the past glory of Rome, which could not have been more at variance with its own futuristic dynamic. Complicity there was, and affinities too. These continue to subsist in our own culture but more at a deeper cultural and even psychological level than a specifically political substratum of ideas.

Text © Anna Leung, 2009.

The exhibition Futurism 100! runs from 14 January - 19 April 2009 at the
Estorick Collection of Modern Italian Art in London, UK.


Anna Leung is a London-based artist and educator now semi-retired from teaching at Birkbeck College but taking occasional informal groups to current art exhibitions.

Aesthetic Conjectures


by Francis Raven

To hear the poet read his work, please click on the title of each poem below.

Framed Solicitation

What if your will could not be a guide and paintings just appeared
skirmishing in the mountains?
Their bluffs washed out from behind the preference
that someone is busily explaining, rapidly
losing his audience to force.
This is dance after all
it can’t mean like I can mean
an empty room can mean
a girl touching a lady’s hat can mean
(she is friendly but we can’t afford to be friendly).
However, without the will
vistas appear: reflections of your own choices
as if you were standing
under a woman
with a parasol
slightly to her left.
She is taller in perception
than the flowers we use for money
than the gates we use for money.
That is, somehow the girl’s dress is blown
to the left:
her cover is blown
The cliff can’t quite mind its own business
realistically you squint realistically
trying to find
the square you were born with.
That is, were they points or merely small strokes?
Which guard watches while gossiping on the phone
throughout other women
setting other tables
beside others
that are too dark
at least within this light
but we must be careful
of damage
we must be careful of damaging
ourselves? (Finally, to ask.)
That is, now the parasol is turning
is waiting
for three distinctive days
of light within
aren’t they foreign?
Aren’t they foreign within?
Those are the leaves over which
we have praised our friends for leaving
for living their lives
we do not want their lives
their hay is not our bread.
when one slab
soaks into the river
it is raining but not for metaphysics:
the top of his paper
for blinking
still wet
a hundred years
they are still trying to dry the idea of perception
it’s not enough to leave it unfinished.
The famous apples still betray the table
you could never have seen.
You are not quite that scene.
You are small
behind a cow
while they speak.
They are too loud for speech.
It is screaming in the main hall.
The acoustics are all wrong for passion.
Passion itself is all wrong for these frames.

Lucio’s Balcony

           after Antonio López García

As a vanquished door is held open, glass
slowly closes;
             the reflection finally eases
             into itself
as poles are connected via the horizon
of friends
who no longer
live in the same building.

Thus, because years have mended, extended,
canvases must be stitched, hammered rather
(for it is painted on wood) as development’s stare
finally leads to the penthouse
above which these final strokes were executed
although no one you know
lives there any longer. We know they were final
because it’s hanging, finally.

The Execution of Maximilian

We see the arrows; they are shooting.
But they are shooting guns.
This is happening in modern times.
The arrows are in the mind: fixed by an original act of naming,
Baptism. It is flooding, testing the political will of what we will be.
We will be covered but we (the “referent”) will
Have a precise relationship with a name, it will be a bridge.
The bridge will go unfunded until
Another state receives money for a floodwall.
That state, it should be said, wishes to prevent
Names from washing
They have too many
And many of those
Are unpronounceable
Causing cranes
To crash
Into neighboring buildings;
Causing the city’s buildings commissioner, Patricia Lancaster
To resign. She must not have understood
How to balance the market and safety concerns

                       regulation and expansion.

A dual mission brings hand into eye’s focus:
Everything we build
Must be believed in tomorrow and further
We see revolutions, distance, things in perspective.
Words are always towards. Those were shots
From an historical perspective.

It takes years to wash this sort of dirt down the drain:
First you have to have some dirt
(You have to have something to say;
Some reason to be shot.)
Then you have to turn the water on
Then some goes down
But some is always left
Then you have to repeat
Until finally the small amount of sludge
Can be removed using a rag.
It is this point in history
That I am desperately searching for.
Searching, however, implies rubble
And it’s true that things, various things, have fallen.
They’re quoted as saying,
            “Nearly every building boasted at least one crane.”
Just replace “building” with another word, a more metaphysical word
And then you’ll have something deep, something metaphysical.
This is where we move into the paste of postmodernity
Confronting the fact that
Things happen.

There is a collage, a meaning of pasted execution squads
Peeling from larger photographs. Look, Napoleon just announced
That Maximilian would be President
And then he just announced
That the French would be leaving Mexico.

That is power, to be able to announce something
And then for that thing to really happen.
If you’re really powerful
Every constative becomes a performative.
(Or maybe he was just kidding.
This is always the danger:
How do we verify a baptism?
How do we know that that word still means that?
And if we can’t
Then I can’t know
That you continue to be you: a troubling thought.)

It could have been a painting of anything.
Well, not anything but

And it is this but that theory narrowly rests upon:
We see the hat, the firing, the gun resting, the spontaneous
Conflicting conclusion
Of historical accuracy:

Gunsmoke obscuring
Individual motive and grace;
Leaving society’s pictorial determinism
Guiltily framed and overexplained.

francisraven.jpgFrancis Raven lives in Washington DC; you can check out more of his work at his website:


First Row, left to right: Wilson Trouve, Fresh Paint - detail (2007), Galerie Isabelle Gounod. Marie Orensanz, Installation-detail (2009), School Gallery. Benjamin Bruneau, Vortex, Galerie Loraine Baud.

Second Row, left to right: Sylvain Gelinotte, Anatomie_planche n°1 (2008), Galerie Loraine Baud. Naji Kamouche, Caresser l’Errance d’un Pas Oublié (2005). © F. Hurst - courtesy Naji Kamouche. Collection FRAC Alsace - acquisition 2008 School Gallery. Sylvain Gelinotte, Coupe n°20 (2008), Galerie Loraine Baud.

Third Row, left to right: Michaële-Andréa Schatt, Paysage nocturne (2008), Galerie Isabelle Gounod. Marie Orensanz, Seulement ... Pont (2009), School Gallery. Michaële-Andréa Schatt, Paysages en ose, Installation View, Galerie Isabelle Gounod.

Paris: The New Gallerists

by Deanna Sirlin

In this age of economic trouble, which is coloring so many of our thoughts and actions these days, I was delighted to discover three new-to-Paris galleries in the Marais district this past January. Each had up a solo exhibition by a gallery artist, and each has its own modus operandi. I am sure that all three gallerists are concerned about the financial realities of this moment, but their passion and desire to present important contemporary art is at the forefront of their thoughts.

I began my tour de galleries at School Gallery, a space created by Olivier Castaing, which is tucked into a courtyard off the Rue due Temple, not far from Marion Goodman’s Paris address. I have to say if I had not been with a friend who knew the gallery and brought me there, I would have never have found the place, even equipped as I was with Pariscope (the Parisian art and culture weekly guide) and downloaded gallery maps of the area. Castaing explained to me that the gallery is too new to be listed in the directories and on the maps, and I am sure this is just one of a great many challenges the new gallery owner faces.

The exhibition on view at School was of the work of Marie Orensanz, a seventy-two year old artist originally from Argentina who now lives and works in Montrouge, France. Titled “Pour Qui ?”( For Whom ?), this classically beautiful exhibition combines French text with sculptural objects, such as a large mirror with engraved text attached to a curved wooden foot-bridge, or a group of white glass bells with small metal tags hanging beneath that read in [en français, bien sur] “for those who flatter.” Also on view were metal wall works, cutouts of words in triptychs such as “Money, Liberty, Power” (argent, liberté, pouvior). Castaing, who is a passionate collector, also allowed me to see the collection of art in his “Résidence d’artistes et show room permanent” to give me a taste of his school of artists. In this art-packed gem of a space, I saw works by Naji Kamouche, whom I found particularly delightful with his installation of a carpet and carpeted shoes. At Art Paris, School Gallery will show Kamouche’s work of boxing gloves made of carpet on a carpet. I will enjoy adding this artist to my collection of those who cover everything with their brand.

The next day I set out to see as much as possible on view in the Marais. On Rue Chapon, where one will find many galleries as well as wholesale purse and scarf stores, I found a courtyard with a few galleries. I was very much taken with the new Galerie Isabelle Gounod, which featured a strikingly beautiful and courageous exhibition of paintings by Michaële-Andréa Schatt. I say courageous because the main color in these works is a rose red which some may distinguish as hot pink. The exhibition, exquisitely titled “Paysages En Os” (Landscapes in Bones) is a charming play on Duchamp’s Rrose Sélavy. The show was both a dare and a success. Isabelle Gounod spoke eloquently about this artist, and I certainly felt her commitment to the work and the artist’s evolution over the years. Gounod was happy to converse with me about the artist, the work, and her history as a gallerist. This is not her first gallery venture, her first being a space in the suburbs of Paris. I am sorry not to be in Paris to see Gounod’s next exhibition, “Traces,” a group show of drawings by gallery artists. It looks delightfully juicy.

Isabelle Gounod speaks expressively about art, and with a passion for the work and respect for and interest in her artists. She really knows them, how they work, who their friends are, who comes to her gallery. To be in her stable is to be part of a community, much like being part of the theatre troupe where Gounod worked in the 80’s. I think this must breed success for her artists; I have always thought that the theatre has better support systems than the art world. How wonderful to bring this notion of the theatre to the gallery, with Gounod as the producer and director. Lucky for her artists.

Walking down Rue des Gravilliers, still very much in the 3rd arrondissement, I came across Galerie Loraine Baud. There was a young woman half inside, half outside the gallery, on a cell phone and smoking a cigarette, who turned out to be Loraine Baud. She quickly was able to change gears and became the consummate gallerist ready to engage the visitor with the art in her gallery. This small space had up an exhibition of the drawings of Sylvain Gelinotte, a young artist who works in the medium of motor oil on paper and draws the boyish subjects of cars, trophies, and motors. The drawings have a drippy loveliness and the palette of Vik Muniz when he worked in chocolate syrup, only here we had the actual oil spills, so to speak, not the photographic documentation of the artist’s hand.

Baud was very anxious to talk to me about her artists and show me work by others in her stable. I suspected that these artists were all young males and found I was correct when I visited the web site, all except for gallery artist Suzanne Jalenques.

It was interesting to me how clearly each of these galleries has a sense of identity reflected in their respective stables of artists. I was really interested in these gallerists and how they had come to the positions, spaces, aesthetics, and artists that they represent.

Upon returning from my trip, I contacted each of the three gallerists and asked them if they would be willing to reply to a short series of questions about how they perceive their roles, their galleries, and their artists. They all very generously agreed and sent answers to the group of questions below. The questions were sent in both English and French. The gallerists responded in French; Philip Auslander, TAS’s editor, translated their replies. We have arranged the responses to form discussions of each of the three questions. If you would like to read the original French responses to the questions, please scroll down to the bottom of the page.

I would like to thank Olivier Castaing, Isabelle Gounod, and Loraine Baud for speaking with TAS so eloquently and frankly about their galleries.


Olivier Castaing
School Gallery
81, rue du Temple Paris
Isabelle Gounod
Galerie Isabelle Gounod
13, rue Chapon Paris
Loraine Baud
Galerie Loraine Baud
67, rue des Gravilliers Paris

How did you first get involved in contemporary art?

Olivier Castaing:

My vocation is inscribed in my family’s DNA: my paternal grandfather and great-grandfather were both painters and, until I was 18, I lived in the midst of their work, which covered the walls of our family home.

When I was young, I spent hours contemplating the gallery of family portraits painted by my grandfather, his intimist scenes, drawings, and preparatory studies.

With the first money I earned I bought myself paintings, then a great many sculptures, installations, photographs, and also design, especially lighting. My escapades in Brussels, Berlin, London, and New York were pretexts for shopping for rare pieces or pieces never seen in France. Each move was an opportunity to encounter new forms of art and new artists.

Alongside my job in communications and the Internet, which allowed me a lot of free time, I assiduously frequented artists’ studios, galleries, and museums to enrich my knowledge and refine my eye and tastes.

Isabelle Gounoud:
My first contact with contemporary art goes back to the mid-1970s when I was a student, discovering the theatre and film as well as the first contemporary art biennials in Paris. My professors were art critics, art historians... and artists. I remember “Francis Bacon,” a stunning exhibition in 1971 in Paris, and Barnett Newman’s “zip”... . I was working at that time in the theatre, after having trained in France and in London. The theatre of that time was a place of experiences involving actors, dancers, writers, film directors, lighting designers... if you remember Bob Wilson’s directing... this was “contemporary art.” As well as Marguerite Duras, her novels, her films; Carolyn Carlson, experimental film directors, of course, but also Antonioni, Godard, Michael Powell... If you think of performance artists, plastic artists, musicians, video makers... they all participated in the contemporary art scene of the time.

Years later, when I was working in film and audiovisual production, I particularly remember the making of a film on Eric Fischl and Pierre Bonnard, during which I met one of Bonnard’s nephews, who gave me the opportunity to hold in my hands some of the artist’s diaries, whose pages contained his daily reports on the weather and sometimes little sketches of his wife... Intimacy, flesh, and light in Fischl’s and in Bonnard’s paintings. I’ve noticed that I have difficulties in dividing art and artists into “sections.” Of course there are different mediums, periods etc., but the dialogue among all of them is constant.

Loraine Baud:
A woman professor at the university helped me take my first steps into the world of contemporary art. I discovered there a new vocabulary, a way of addressing questions to which my more “classical” education didn’t fully respond. The concepts of position, of commitment, of performativity marked and transformed the manner in which I looked, listened, and understood the artistic field, the plastic arts and contemporary dance.

Why did you want to open a gallery?

Olivier Castaing:

For more than 15 years, I organized ephemeral exhibitions, usually over a four-day weekend, to help artists sell their work. These became regular events that served as pretexts for discovering unusual locations in Paris and new artists.

Nevertheless, this formula was limited by the short run of the exhibitions and the impossibility of working in depth with the press or institutions. It was difficult to exist in the contemporary art world with no real “legitimacy” while working without a fixed place and with a wide variety of artistic conceptions.

I have also worked as an exhibition organizer, having put together two events designed to revivify a Cistercian abbey in central Brittany, in the northwest of France. For these biannual events, I created a symposium of semi-monumental sculptures and a contemporary art biennial. These events continue today, having been taken up by local experts in the field of contemporary art.

As a freelance curator, I’ve organized photographic exhibitions about Paris, particularly for Swedish artists, as well as the inaugural exhibition that accompanied the opening of the Fondation Jean Rustin, a major French painter who is now 80 years old.

In addition, I created and ran an art blog for 18 months, with an art historian. We alternated in writing accounts of exhibitions, studio visits, or texts about an artist, a work, or a specific period in the history of art.

Two years ago, I decided to bow to the inevitable and devote myself entirely to my passion for art. I only had to find a spot in the gallery district at the heart of the Marais, which has become the epicenter of contemporary art in Paris, raise money, put together a team of artists, and finally develop a program.

Isabelle Gounod:
I could speak about my lineage, the musicians, writers, painters, actors, and poets in my family... and about all those years working in various sectors of artistic production, theatre, film and documentary production, art therapy, and the collaborations with artists, actors, directors, photographers, and plastic artists. They certainly led me over the years to see that I couldn’t imagine taking on any role in life other than that of supporting artists and their work. I was an actress, and it seems to me that those years of working and thinking about texts, writing, actors, and “acting,” were essential and perhaps allow me a certain empathy with the artist himself as well as his artistic concept.

Loraine Baud:
It was a decision that seems to have been made for me. I’ve always worked with artists. As an agent, I searched for ways to carry their work. After numerous projects, I realized that the gallery structure offered the best way for me to sustain and diffuse it.

How would you describe your gallery and the artists you exhibit?

Olivier Castaing:

The School Gallery, which specializes in contemporary art, represents French and foreign artists in multiple disciplines.

My primary objective is to bring to light young artists or artists who are recognized in other countries but have no real visibility in France, like the Argentine artist Marie Orensanz, a major presence on the South American art scene who is now 72 years old and to whom the Museum of Modern Art in Buenos Aires gave a spectacular retrospective in 2007.

My interest in the art scene in Argentina led me to devote my first vacation since opening the gallery to an extended stay in Bueno Aires, where I met at least 40 artists with the help of Orly Benzacar, director of the gallery of the same name and a prominent figure in the Latin American art world.

I am also motivated by a real desire to promote emerging artists while taking into account the diversity of current artistic practices and being careful not to specialize in any particular medium or domain.

It seems to me that eclecticism is a basic requirement for being on the lookout for new ideas and even for sustaining the interest of the audience, collectors, and institutions, and running a space devoted to art and exchange.

The gallery’s programming is plotted against three axes:

Socially “Committed” Projects, like the Water War group show in the spring of 2008 devoted to “wars fought about water throughout the world,” or the book and exhibition Testimony, a photographic project by the Swedish artist Joakim Eneroth about the torture of Tibetan monks by the Chinese.

The choice of themes oriented toward social problems shows my willingness to promote artists who demonstrate a “militant humanism” with works that defend fundamental liberties, as in the gallery’s inaugural exhibition, entitled “liberté toujours!” (Ever Free) or the show that opened the second season, by the Argentine artist Marie Orensanz, entitled “ . . . pour qui? . . . les honneurs . . . “ ( . . . for whom? . . . the honors . . /).

Exhibitions of photography or video. Almost half of the gallery artists use these media in their work, though not exclusively, since some are also painters or plastic artists.

Futuristic projects, incursions into the realm of design or architecture, monumental installations, sound works, artistic overviews.

This kind of exhibition allows me to bring in artists who aren’t under contract to the gallery but whose artistic ideas enrich its project nevertheless.

Isabelle Gounod:
I am incapable of describing something that is constantly evolving. I’ve been asked what determines the gallery’s direction: My choices! Above all else, it’s about encounters: with an artist, with a person, then with his artistic concept, and finally with his/their work(s).

Each artist is different. I love their urgency, a certain understanding of the world, a desperate yet saving irony.

I retain from the theatre the spirit of the troupe, of dialogue among “actors.” If we work together, if we “choose” each other, which is how it happens, it may be in part because of what we recognize in each other, but we go where the artists take us. They are the leaders.

Loraine Baud:
The gallery is both an exhibition space and a platform for mediation. I think of it as an open space, a space of exchange. This induces in me an attitude toward both the artists with whom I work in close collaboration and the audience I welcome. With both audacity and humility, I ambitiously suggest a new way of seeing, I defend contemporary painting, and I promote embodied art.

How did you find the artists you represent?

Olivier Castaing:

I launched my program in 2008 with artists I already knew, either because I had used them in my biennial project or because I had given them an individual show during the time I was a freelance curator.

This is the case for Naji Kamouche, who participated in the first Biennial of contemporary art at the Abbaye de Bon Repos (in Brittany, France); Joakim Eneroth, whom I met at Fotofest (in Houston, Texas, USA); or Susanna Hesselberg, whom I’ve known since her stint as an artist-in-residence at the Cite Internationale des Arts in Paris.

For me, choosing a gallery is like joining a family, and I value the opinions of all of its members. Even though I make all the final decisions, their views influence me significantly.

Isabelle Gounod:
I lived with a photographer and plastic artist, and met at that time other artists with whom I became friends, some of whom I continue to work with today, like Michaele Andrea Schatt, whom I met well before I decided to open a gallery. I had very much wanted to make a documentary on her work; it never got made, but years later I asked her if she would be willing to join a brand-new gallery in a suburb of Paris and we opened the first exhibition together. A small gallery, it was a bit like “the little shop on the corner”! Earlier, I had met Michel Alexis, who lives and works in New York and Paris, and he who also joined us presenting paintings “around” Gertrude Stein’s diary... One evening in winter, I received an e-mail from Jeremy Liron, a young student at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris. I discovered his paintings, his writings—he was just starting out, and so was I!

Now that the gallery is in Paris, I get a great many solicitations from artists, which makes me appreciate all the more those who had confidence in me at the very beginning.

The little “troupe” has grown and welcomed other “actors,” but it’s all still about the encounter and desire for that encounter. This is the driving force, stimulating and infinitely subtle.

Loraine Baud:
They are the artists with whom I was already working and who gave me the desire and courage to open the gallery. It is they who instilled in me the desire to present their work, to accompany them.

What is your greatest challenge with the gallery?

Olivier Castaing:

It’s a question of knowing how to exist in the midst of the more than 500 galleries active in the Parisian art market.

How to emerge from the crowd, how to forge and maintain a distinctive identity and get enough attention from the press, institutions, and collectors for your programming and the artists you promote.

It is also an economic challenge, considering the high cost of rent, production costs, and the risks inherent in the market.

I seek to distinguish my gallery by providing as much access as possible to the artists themselves, putting artists back into a system in which they all too often become “significant by their absence” to the point that it almost becomes a challenge to meet an artist at his own show! As an event, each exhibition is a pretext for organizing encounters with the goal of becoming a platform for ongoing exchanges and meetings between the artists and people from other fields: writers, psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, architects, landscape architects, teachers and researchers, and politicians in the hope of generating a true dynamic and stimulating debates with collectors, art lovers, and the general public.

Isabelle Gounod:
To last!

Loraine Baud:
To make it visible on the international scene.

What is your greatest challenge with your artists?

Olivier Castaing:

As for all galleries, supporting the artists involves producing the work presented, assisting in outside projects, particularly publications, and continually calling on art historians or critics to write about each exhibited project in order to contextualize the work.

Supporting the artists over time should be the objective that drives all gallery activities. This has to do above all with focusing energy on all of the operations involved in showing and valorizing the artists’ work in the gallery, but also, and importantly, in institutions and public or private collections.

The gallerist and artist must work side by side in a relationship that entails absolute confidence and true osmosis to best defend and sustain the work, and allow it to emerge from the studio under the best conditions possible.

For a young gallerist, this necessitates the creation of a network of active collectors who believe in the gallery’s choices and are able to contribute to the production of major projects, and the development of a network of institutional correspondents, journalists who are prepared to follow the work of the gallery artists.

It’s a daily marathon, a long-distance race that requires enthusiasm, energy, and, above all, passion for artists and their art.

Isabelle Gounod:
To reassure them. . . . Gallerists, commissioners, conservators, and critics are all intermediaries--we draw our energy from the relationship we have to art thanks to the artists. The challenge? The artists present no challenge other than to sustain them through time, to give them voice.

Loraine Baud:
To give them the opportunity to produce as freely as possible, and to pursue our collaboration for as long as possible, in a climate of respect, transparence, and confidence.


Deanna Sirlin is Editor-in-Chief of The Art Section and an artist whose work can be seen at

Comment êtes-vous devenu la première fois impliqué dans l'art contemporain?

Olivier Castaing:

Mon projet s'inscrit assez logiquement dans l'ADN familial, avec un grand père et un arrière grand père paternels artistes peintres, ayant vécu jusqu’à l’âge de 18 ans au milieu de leurs œuvres couvrant les murs de la maison familiale.

Etant jeune, je passais des heures à contempler la galerie de portraits familiaux réalisés par mon grand père, les scènes intimistes, les dessins et études préparatoires.

Avec mes premiers salaires j’ai tout naturellement commencé à m’offrir des peintures puis de très nombreuses sculptures, des installations, de la photographie mais également du design et notamment des luminaires, mes escapades à Bruxelles, Berlin, Londres ou New York étant prétexte à chiner des pièces rares ou jamais vues en France. Chaque déplacement devenait une opportunité de rencontres avec de nouvelles formes d’art et de nouveaux artistes.

En parallèle de mon job dans la communication et l’internet, qui me laissait de nombreuses plages de loisir, j’ai assidûment fréquenté, ateliers d’artistes, galeries et musées, pour enrichir mes connaissances et affiner mon œil et mes goûts.

Isabelle Gounod:
Mon premier contact avec l’art contemporain remonte au milieu des années 70, j’étais alors étudiante et découvrais le théâtre, le cinéma et les premières biennales d’art contemporain à Paris. Mes professeurs étaient critiques d’art, historiens de l’art … et artistes.

Je me souviens d’une étonnante exposition en 1971 « Francis Bacon », de la découverte du « zip » de Barnett Newmann… J’ai ensuite rejoint le théâtre après des études de théâtre à Paris et à Londres. Le théâtre à cette époque était un lieu très expérimental, réunissant les acteurs, des danseurs, des auteurs, des réalisateurs, des régisseurs lumière… si l’on se souvient des mises en scènes de Bob Wilson… nous étions en présence de « performance », d’ « installations ». Il en est de même avec l’oeuvre de Marguerite Duras, si l’on pense à la rythmique de son écriture, au travail de la voix off sur l’image dans ses films, dans ses pièces… à la recherche de Carolyn Carlson sur l’inscription du corps dans l’espace, aux réalisateurs de films expérimentaux bien sûr, mais aussi à Antonioni, Godard… Ils ont tous participé à ce qui constitue la scène actuelle de « l’art contemporain ».

Des années plus tard alors que je travaillais dans le secteur de la production cinématographique et audiovisuelle, je me souviens tout particulièrement du tournage d’un documentaire sur Eric Fischl et Pierre Bonnard, au cours duquel je rencontrais l’un des neveux de Pierre Bonnard qui me donna l’occasion de tenir entre mes mains quelques agendas de l’artiste dans lesquels il reportait quotidiennement des annotations sur le temps, la lumière, et parfois des petits croquis de sa femme... L’intimité, la chair et … la lumière dans la peinture de Fischl comme dans celle de Bonnard. Ce sont ces rencontres et d’autres qui au fil des ans m’ont menées à l’ « art contemporain ».

Loraine Baud:
C'est une enseignante à l'université qui a accompagné mes premiers pas dans l'art contemporain. J'ai découvert un vocabulaire nouveau, en prise avec mes questionnements auxquels mon éducation plus "classique" ne répondait pas totalement. Les notions de posture, de parti-pris, de performativité ont marqué et transformé la manière dont je regardais, écoutais, comprenais le champ artistique, des arts plastiques à la danse contemporaine.

Pourquoi avez-vous voulu ouvrir une galerie?

Olivier Castaing:

Pendant plus de 15 ans j’ai organisé des expositions éphémères, généralement en fin de semaine sur 4 jours pour aider les artistes à vendre leurs œuvres. Ces rendez vous sont devenues réguliers, prétexte à découvrir des lieux insolites dans Paris et de nouveaux artistes.

Cette formule avait néanmoins des limites tant par le format court des expositions que par l’impossibilité de faire un travail de fond en presse et auprès des institutionnels, en l’absence de « légitimité » réelle, sans lieu fixe et avec une grande variété de propositions artistiques, difficile d’exister dans le milieu de l’art contemporain.

J’ai également fait du commissariat d’exposition, mis en place 2 manifestations en région centre bretagne, dans le nord ouest de la France, pour redonner vie à une abbaye cistercienne. Manifestations bi-annuelles, j’ai ainsi crée un symposium de sculptures semi-monumentales et une biennale d’art contemporain. Ces manifestations perdurent ajourd’hui et ont été reprises par des intervenants locaux dans le domaine de l’art contemporain.

Par ailleurs j’ai organisé en tant que commissaire free lance des expositions photographiques sur Paris, notamment pour des artistes suédois ainsi que l’ exposition inaugurale accompagnant l’ouverture de la Fondation Jean Rustin, artiste majeur de la peinture française, aujourd’hui âgé de 80 ans.

J’ai également crée et animé un blog artistique pendant près de 18 mois avec une historienne de l’art, chacun de nous écrivait en alternance un compte rendu d’expositions, de visites d’ateliers ou des textes de fonds sur un artiste, unee œuvre ou une période particulière de l’histoire de l’art.

Il y a deux ans, j’ai décidé de passer le pas et de me consacrer entièrement à ma passion artistique. Il ne restait plus qu’à trouver un lieu dans le quartier des galeries, au coeur du marais devenu l’épicentre de l’art contemporain à Paris, de lever des fonds et de constituer un team d’artistes et enfin de mettre en place une programmation.

Isabelle Gounod:
Je pourrai évoquer l’héritage familial, composé de musiciens, d’écrivains, de peintres, d’acteurs, de poètes…et toutes ces années travaillant dans différents secteurs de la production artistique, le théâtre, la production de films et de documentaires, l’art-thérapie et les collaborations avec des artistes, comédiens, réalisateurs, photographes et plasticiens. Ils m’ont certainement conduite au fil des années à m’apercevoir qu’il m’était impossible d’envisager ma vie autrement qu’en adoptant cette « posture » qui est celle de l’accompagnement de l’artiste, de son œuvre. J’ai été comédienne et il me semble que ces années de travail et de réflexion sur l’écrtiture, le texte, les acteurs, le jeu de l’acteur, ont été essentielles et me permettent peut-être une certaine empathie avec l’artiste et sa démarche.

Loraine Baud:
C'est une décision qui s'est comme imposée à moi. J'ai toujours travaillé auprès d'artistes. En tant qu'agent, j'ai cherché la manière dont je pouvais porter leur travail. Et j'ai compris, à la suite de nombreux projets menés, que la structure de la galerie pourrait me permettre de mieux les soutenir et les diffuser.

Comment décririez-vous votre galerie et les artistes que vous exhibez?

Olivier Castaing:
Spécialisée en art contemporain, la School Gallery représente des artistes français et étrangers, au travers d’une programmation interdisciplinaire,

Mon objectif, dans un premier temps, est de faire découvrir des artistes jeunes ou reconnus à l’étranger mais sans réelle visibilité en France, comme l’artiste argentine Marie ORENSANZ, figure incontournable de la scène artistique sud américaine, aujourd’hui âgée de 72 ans et à laquelle le Musée d’Art Moderne de Buenos Aires a consacré une spectaculaire rétrospective en 2007.

Cet intérêt pour la scène artistique argentine m’a incité à consacrer mes premières vacances depuis l’ouverture de la galerie à un long séjour à Buenos Aires où j’ai rencontré pas moins de 40 artistes, notamment avec l’aide d’Orly Benzacar directrice de la galerie du même nom et figure de proue des acteurs du monde de l’art en Amérique latine.

Je suis également animé par un réel désir de promotion d’artistes émergents pour rendre compte de la diversité des pratiques artistiques actuelles, soucieux de ne pas spécialiser la programmation sur tel ou tel média ou dans tel ou tel domaine.

L’éclectisme me paraît primordial pour rester à l’affût de propositions originales et à même de susciter l’intérêt du public, des collectionneurs et des institutions et animer réellement un espace d’art et d’échanges.

La programmation s’oriente autour de 3 axes:

- des projets « engagés », comme le projet « water war » group show du printemps 2008 consacré aux « guerres de l’eau dans le monde », ou le livre et l’exposition « Testimony », projet photographique de l’artiste suédois Joakim Eneroth sur la torture des moines tibétains par les chinois …

Le choix de thématiques orientées sur les problèmes de société, illustre ma volonté de promouvoir des artistes faisant montre d’un « humanisme militant », avec des propositions qui entendent défendre les libertés fondamentales comme l’ exposition inaugurale de la galerie intitulés « liberté toujours ! » (« ever free ») ou pour ouvrir la programmation de deuxième année l’exposition de l’artiste argentine Marie Orensanz « pour qui ? … les honneurs … »,

- des expositions photographiques ou vidéos, près de la moitié des artistes de la galerie utilisant ces médias dans leurs créations, sans exclusive, certains étant également peintres, ou plasticiens au sens large.

- des projets plus prospectifs, incursions dans le domaine du design ou de l’architecture, installations monumentales, projets sonores, parcours artistiques.

Ce type d’exposition peut permettre d’intégrer des artistes qui ne sont pas sous contrat avec la galerie mais dont les propositions artistiques sont à même d’enrichir le projet.

Isabelle Gounod:
Je me sens incapable de décrire ce qui est en constante évolution. L’on m’a demandé quelle était la ligne directrice de la galerie… mes choix ! Il s’agit de rencontres avant toute chose, avec un artiste, une personne puis avec sa démarche, enfin ses/son œuvre(s). Chaque artiste est singulier, je respecte son exigence, une certaine intelligence du monde et l’ironie salvatrice et désespérée…

Je garde du théâtre cet esprit de troupe, de dialogue entre les « acteurs ». Si nous travaillons ensemble, si nous nous « choisissons », car c’est ainsi que cela se passe, c’est peut-être en partie par ce que nous reconnaissons chez l’autre, mais aussi pour nous laisser guider par eux …

Loraine Baud:
Une galerie est à la fois espace d'exposition et plateforme de médiation. Je la pense comme un lieu ouvert, un espace d'échange. Ce qui induit une posture, tant vis-à-vis des artistes avec qui je travaille en étroite collaboration, que de l'accueil des visiteurs. Avec audace et humilité, j'ai l'ambition de proposer un regard neuf, de défendre une peinture contemporaine, de promouvoir un art incarné.

Comment avez vous trouvé les artistes que vous représentez?

Olivier Castaing:
J’ai démarré ma programmation en 2008 avec des artistes que je connaissais déjà, soit pour les avoir intégréé à mon projet de biennale, soit pour leur avoir consacré une exposition personnelle au travers de mon activité de commissaire d’exposition free lance dans les années antérieures.

C’est le cas de Naji Kamouche, qui a participé à la première Biennale d’art contemporain de l’Abbaye de Bon Repos (Bretagne/France) Joakim Eneroth rencontré à FOTOFEST (Houston Texas) ou Susanna Hesselberg , soutenue lors de sa résidence d’artiste à la Cité internationale des arts à Paris.

Aujourd’hui les nouveaux artistes sont surtout cooptés par ceux qui font déjà partie du team de la galerie mais aussi recommandés par des commissaires d’exposition ou des historiens de l’art avec lesquels je collabore.

Pour moi, choisir une galerie c’est comme entrer dans une famille, et l’avis de tous les membres est important, même s’il n’est que consultatif, il oriente de façon significative mes choix finaux.

Isabelle Gounod:
J’ai vécu avec un photographe plasticien et rencontré à cette époque des artistes qui sont devenus des amis, dont certains avec lesquels je travaille aujourd’hui, ainsi Michaële-Andréa Schatt que je connaissais depuis 1991 bien avant de décider d’ouvrir une galerie. Je souhaitais réaliser un documentaire sur son travail, cela ne s’est pas fait mais des années plus tard je lui ai demandé si elle accepterait de rejoindre une galerie « débutante », située dans une petite rue de la banlieue de Paris et nous avons inauguré la galerie ensemble. C’était une petite galerie, un peu « la petite boutique au coin de la rue » ! J’avais rencontré également Michel Alexis qui vit et travaille à New-York et à Paris qui nous a également rejoint et présenté une série de peintures « autour » du Journal de Gertrude Stein… Un soir d’hiver 2004, je reçois un mail de Jérémy Liron, un jeune étudiant aux Beaux-Arts de Paris. Je découvre sa peinture, ses écrits… il « débutait », moi aussi… ! Je suis très souvent sollicitée par les artistes depuis que la galerie est à Paris… c’est pourquoi je suis d’autant plus reconnaissante à ceux qui m’ont fait confiance depuis le début.

Le petite « troupe » s’est élargie, accueillant d’autres « acteurs », mais il s’agit toujours de rencontre, du désir de se rencontrer. C’est un élément moteur, stimulant et infiniment subtile.

Loraine Baud:
Ce sont les artistes avec qui je travaillais déjà qui m'ont donné l'envie et le courage de monter la galerie. Ce sont eux qui m'ont insufflé le désir de présenter leurs oeuvres, de les accompagner.

Quel est votre plus grand défi avec la galerie?

Olivier Castaing:
La question est de savoir comment exister au milieu des 500 galleries voir plus qui sont présentes sur le marché de l’art parisien.

Comment sortir du lot, se forger une personnalité identifiable et être à même d’obtenir une raisonnance suffisante dans la presse, auprès des institutions et des collectionneurs sur votre programmation et les artistes que vous promouvaient.

Il s’agit en premier lieu d’exister et ensuite de s’inscrire dans la durée.

C’est à la fois un challenge économique, compte tenu du prix prohibitif des loyers, des coûts de production et des risques inhérents au marché.

J’ai axé ma différenciation sur la qualité de l’accueil, la présence la plus fréquente possible des artistes, pour les remettre au coeur du système, considérant qu’ils sont trop souvent les « grands absents » des galeries, et que cela devient presque un challenge que de rencontrer un artiste dans sa propre exposition. Enfin pour créer l’événement, chaque exposition est prétexte à organiser des rencontres, afin d’être une plateforme d’échanges permanents et de rencontres avec les artistes associés à des personnalités d’horizons différents : écrivains, psychiatres et psychanalystes, architectes, paysagistes, enseignants et chercheurs, politiciens, afin de générer une réelle dynamique et des débats stimulants avec les collectionneurs et amateurs d’art, et le public en général.

Isabelle Gounod:

Loraine Baud:
La faire exister sur la scène internationale.

Quel est votre plus grand défi avec vos artistes?

Olivier Castaing:

Comme toute galerie le soutien aux artistes concerne la production des pièces présentées, l’assistance sur des projets hors les murs, des publications notamment en faisant systématiquement appel à des historiens ou critique d’art pour qu’ils écrivent sur chaque projet d’exposition afin de contextualiser le travail.

Accompagner des artistes dans le temps, doit être l’objectif qui conduit toute l’activité de la galerie. Il s’agit avant tout de focaliser l’énergie sur toutes les opérations à même de montrer, valoriser le travail de l’artistes au sein de la galerie mais aussi et surtout dans les institutions et collections publiques ou privées.

C’est un travail en binôme, qui suppose une confiance absolue, une osmose véritable pour être le mieux à même de défendre, soutenir, faire sortir dans les meilleurs conditions le travail de l’atelier.

Pour un jeune galeriste, cela passe par la constitution d’un réseau de collectionneurs actifs, qui croient dans les choix de la galerie, susceptibles de s’engager sur certains projets lourds, notamment en production, la mise en place d’un réseau de correspondants institutionnels, de journalistes prêt à suivre le travail des artistes et du galeriste.

C’est un véritable marathon au quotidien, une course de fonds qui nécessite enthousiasme, énergie et plus que tout la passion des artistes et de leur art.

Isabelle Gounod:
Les rassurer… Galeristes, commissaires, conservateurs, critiques, nous sommes tous des « passeurs » - nous puisons notre énergie dans la relation que nous avons à l’art grâce aux artistes. Le défi ? Pas de défi avec les artistes si ce n’est celui de les accompagner dans le temps, de leur donner la parole.

Loraine Baud:
Leur donner la possibilité de produire le plus librement possible, et poursuivre notre collaboration le plus longtemps possible, dans le même climat de respect, de transparence et de confiance.

From left: School Gallery, Galerie Isabelle Gounod, Galerie Loraine Baud.