Last week for my Paris on Context Class: visiting the Foire Internationale d'Art Contemporain, an enormous Contemporary Art fair in the Grand Palais. Absolutely enormous, absolutely interesting, absolutely cool. I had no energy to walk through all of it, although I did spend over 2 hours there, after all of my class had come and gone, and my feet were near dead.
A picture of the colossal scale of this place, from the upper level:
A strange mix of pieces. As always, drawings and prints were my favorites, and mixed media. I get easily bored with painting. I liked the graphic stuff, too, and some of the photography was brilliant, although honestly I was unimpressed by much of it. There were smatterings of minor things by major modern artists (Calder, Warhol, de Kooning), which seemed bizarre in a contemporary art context.
Also, a lot of minimalism. I desperately hope minimalism is on the decline. It simply isn't interesting anymore as a concept, and its only claim to fame in the past was as a response to New York's abstract expressionism anyway.
I did, however, see a trend that I was honestly excited about: text. As a typical English major, I use text a lot in my art, and was overjoyed at finding it so well-represted in the "haute" version of the contemporary art world.
Another important fact: this was an international fair, so walls were often separated by city and country. Of course, there were many French, and especially Parisian artists, although metropolitan France (principalities of France, etc) were represented. The Moyen-Orient (Middle East) was (surprisingly) well-represented, and, not-surprisingly, Japan. I was not as moved by the Japanese artists as I would have liked, since I couldn't find any of Murakami's, and everyone else seemed to be a (worse) variation of Murakami anyway. China and Russia: extremely well represented. Some of my favorite works (most, in fact) were from China and Russia; they lacked some of the pretention of other countries, for some reason. Contemporary art tends to be too specialized, losing the power of sheer talent in draftsmanship that astounds even the completely ignorant viewer. Is it a coincidence that China and Russia share a tradition of being the major communitarian (as opposed to individualistic) societies in the world? Probably not. That, and their history of technical prowess, makes for fantastic art.
My favorites of the exhibition (not exactly sure if I have full rights to give details of all of these online, but nobody warned against it, so I'll take my chances. If anything I'm giving these artists more publicity) :
Thierry de Cordier, Nuptiale (Jeune Mariee), 2006-2008, Oil, acrylic, pencil, charcoal and ink on wood
(Translation: Nuptial [Young Married] )
Adam Fuss, Untitled, 2007, Unique gelatin silver print photogram
Yan Pei-Ming, U.S. Election: Obama/McCain, 2008, Watercolor on Paper
This last one was one of a diptych, with McCain's face depicted in exactly the same style. Very cool. Very popular with the Frenchies. High-school age pre-politicos were snapping pictures all over the place. I couldn't fit McCain in the picture. Besides, Obama for the win! VOTE Y'ALL!
Pauline Fondevila, La Nuit Nous Appartient, 2008, 4 Drawings under glass and table
(Translation: The night belongs to us)
Valery Koshlyakov. Couldn't find the title. A magnanimous work. Took up an entire wall.
(I. WANT. THIS. Oh my god)
Last two works by Barbara Bloom. Whoever she is, she is clearly obsessed with Nabokov's Lolita. As am I.
Emmanuel Saulnier, Naissance a Venise, 1999, ink and gouache on paper
(Translation: Birth in Venice)
Continuing the trend of text-within-art, this is art-within-text! Love. I've always wanted to draw/paint in a book but could never find a book I cared little enough about. I actually did a project like this in high school that I never completed. Maybe somebody can buy me a book I already have? Perhaps a Vonnegut? I'd LOVE to draw in a Vonnegut. Anyone want to give me a used copy of Slaughterhouse-Five or Cat's Cradle? Oh wait, the latter has already been loaned to about 10 of my college friends and is currently wandering around New York...
Sun Xun, Shock of Time, Assorted Film Drawings, 2006
This seems like the same as the former, but Sun Xun took it to another level: to the right of this collection of beautiful drawings is a TV playing an animated film of probably hundreds of these drawings, probably all in a book! Brilliant. Beautiful. Sad, somehow.
Cameron Jamie, 2008, ink on paper (title = ?)
Melissa Gordon, Seeing and the Eye (Capturing), 2008, acrylic on canvas
Jorg Lozek, Das Buch (le bonheur), 2008, oil on canvas
(Translation: the happiness; literal translation: the good times)