Alberto Giacometti, L'Homme qui chavire, 1950, Alexis Rudier Fondeur. Fonte 1951. © Primae/David Bordes © Succession Alberto Giacometti (Fondation Alberto et Annette Giacometti, Paris + ADAGP, Paris) 2018
The Fondation Louis Vuitton's new exhibition of works from its collection, many of which are on view in France for the first time in history, reveals how artists grapple with the universe. Au diapason du monde (In Tune with the World) is curated by Suzanne Pagé, the foundation's artistic director, who sought a common theme between the 28 artists. The Foundation is also spotlighting Japanese artist Takashi Murakami in a solo presentation.
“The idea was to find a theme that would unite them,” Pagé says about the works in In Tune with the World, most of which have been acquired since the inauguration of the Foundation's Frank Gehry-designed building in 2014. Pagé has structured the exhibition into three parts: Irradiances, Là, infiniment... (Here, Infinitely...) and L’Homme qui chavire (The Man who Capsizes).
Yves Klein, Anthropométrie sans titre (ANT 104), 1960, © Succession Yves Klein c/o ADAGP, Paris, 2018 © Primae/Davide Bordes
In Irradiances, Pagé wanted to display “an assemblage of works that make a cosmic landscape with elements of the world – light, minerals and plants”. The selection includes an early fluorescent tube by Dan Flavin, Yves Klein's dark blue sponges on canvas, a varnished alcohol painting by Sigmar Polke and François Morellet's L’avalanche of criss-crossing neons. Particularly mesmerising is Matthew Barney's Water Cast 6 (2015).
“[Matthew Barney] provoked an alchemic explosion of bronze fused with water, achieving an unexpected, vegetal result, like goldsmithery,” Pagé says. Further along is Pierre Huyghe's Cambrian Explosion 10 (2014) – an aquarium containing volcanic stones and crabs – and Trisha Donnelly's videos featuring a sequence of floating clouds and a rose pierced by electricity. “All this floor is magical and is like a cosmic reunion,” Pagé says.
François Morellet, L'avalanche, 2006, © Mnam Centre Pompidou/Georges Meguerditchian © ADAGP, Paris, 2018
Là, infiniment... groups three artists: Wilhelm Sasnal, Adrián Villar Rojas and Cyprien Gaillard, each of whom has appropriated a famous work from the history of art. Sasnal's Bathers at Asnières (2010) reframes Georges Seurat's 1884 painting of the same name by isolating the young boy at the river bank, gazing at the lake. “It's a very melancholic work and is based on his grandmother's memory of summer in 1939 when the Second World War was declared,” Pagé says.
Villar Rojas has truncated Michelangelo's David, keeping just the legs and introducing two 3D-printed kittens playing between his feet, while Gaillard's entrancing video Nightlife (2015) opens with an image of Rodin's The Thinker in front of the Cleveland Museum of Art in the US.
The third part, L’Homme qui chavire, brings together several generations of artists. Works in this section range from Giacometti's sculptures and a Matisse collage to Maurizio Cattelan's suspended horse representing the fall of Trotsky and Ian Cheng's live simulation Emissary Forks at Perfection (2015).
“It's about the body in new states,” Pagé says. Pausing in front of Kiki Smith's bronze sculpture, Annunciation (2010), which portrays an undefined character holding up an arm, she continues, “It's about her relationship as an artist with creation, with a gesture held in space like Giacometti, but we don't know if it's a man, a woman, a child or an angel.”
Maurizio Cattelan, La ballata di Trotsky, 1996, © Maurizio Catellan, 2018
Pagé is fascinated by Huyghe's “troubling, post-apocalyptic” video, made after the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster. It depicts a hybridised character – a monkey wearing a Japanese girl's mask – that is agitated and alone in a restaurant during a heavy rain shower.
In front of Olafur Eliasson's illuminated columns in the grotto, Mark Leckey's inflatable Felix the cat (2017) peers into the water. “We had to bring his ears forward because they were squashed,” Pagé exclaims.
Pierre Huyghe, Untitled (Human Mask), 2014, © ADAGP, Paris, 2018
Murakami's works are on a separate floor. “They are large pieces that we could only put here,” Pagé says, adding that it was LVMH president Bernard Arnault's personal decision to exhibit Murakami in this centre-stage way. “People think some of Murakami's work is nice and cute but it's all frightening and needs to be seen in its complexity. He's an artist who takes on major events, such as the atomic bomb and [Japan's 2011] tsunami.”
A room featuring Murakami's alter-ego DOB and a lion stretched out on an arch of skulls is followed by another menacing gallery wallpapered in manga-inspired kawaii (cute) smiling flowers. “All these eyes observe you; they're far more worrying than charming toys,” Pagé says.
Gerhard Richter, Lilak, 1982, ©Gerhard Richter
A terrifying fresco, The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg (2017), is in the artist’s last room. Referencing the Eight Taoist Immortals, the work presents an octopus engulfing skulls and tidal waves causing destruction. “It's a huge marine bombshell that will submerge everything,” Pagé says about the octopus. She adds that Murakami collaborated with young street artists on a sea monster sculpture in the middle of the room. “One of them wrote: 'I'm a vegan but I smoke crack' – that's very funny here,” Pagé laughs. Murakami, who flew over for the opening, is thrilled with his solo presentation. “He's baptising this space with sake,” Pagé says, smiling.
Diapason du Monde (In Tune with the World) is on view at Fondation Louis Vuitton, Paris until August 27th.