LE SYNDROME DE BONNARD [The Bonnard Syndrome]
It is said that the painter Pierre Bonnard (1867-1947) tried to surreptitiously rework certain details in his pictures several times late in his life. He was even stopped by a guard at the Musée du Luxembourg as he was touching up a tiny tree leaf in one of his early paintings. a choice from the collections of Mamco (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art), Geneva
Bonnard’s practice explains in part his tendency to make endless changes—after all, it is a style of painting comprising small brushstrokes whose balance can be refined over and over again. But the colorful anecdote also raises an important issue about the relationship the artist and the institution maintain with the work of art. The Austrian painter Oskar Kokoschka, for example, was similarly caught red-handed and accused of “vandalizing” one of his own pictures. In this extreme case, two legitimacies are in conflict. On the one hand, there is the museum, which guarantees the conservation of the acquired piece of art as well as its inscription in the collection of works constituting a cultural heritage and the historical narrative it constructs. On the other, there is the individual evolution of the artist and the delineation of a corpus that he or she is endlessly defining through what the historian Jean-Marc Poinsot has called authorized narratives.
Working from this paradox, Le Bureau/ has invited certain artists who have at least one work in Mamco to go back over their piece and offer a new reading or version of it (as one might say for a work of literature or music), although without damaging the material integrity of the original. Mamco is built on the concept of a museum in motion, as closely aligned with artists as possible, regularly showing their work and thus making it possible to follow their individual development. In a way the show is looking to prevent the bonnard syndrome by inviting the artists to temporarily reappropriate their own works.
What sort of possible future awaits a piece which the artist might want to exclude from or rethink within his or her body of work? How may an artist re-examine the uncertain experiments of a studio practice once the piece has been acquired?
How can certain works be endlessly replayed, reactivated and updated? These are a few of the questions that the seven featured artists have agreed to share and formalize for the exhibition. All seven have an individual and special connection with Mamco, along with an artistic approach that is like no other.
An exhibition by Le Bureau/ a choice from the collections of Mamco (Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Geneva)
Le Bureau/ is a collective of curators based in Paris, whose objective is to question and try out the medium of exhibition. The concept of collective work is a fundamental principle of the group; the meeting of competences and sensitivities of the various members of Le Bureau/ allows the production of exhibitions based on multiple and relative readings.
The exhibition is thought as a mediation system, in which the various showcasing protocols reflect the issues of each project.