François Pinault, Paris
Let’s explore the fabulous world of super-collector, Christie’s owner and luxury tycoon, François Pinault.
The art connoisseur had two exhibitions showcased from his extensive collection in December 2013. He presented works by Rudolf Stingel at Palazzo Grassi for the Venice Biennial and, for Paris’s chic art fair FIAC, he opened “A’ Triple Tour” at the Conciergerie, which what used to be a former prison, is now Pinault’s temporary venue. If viewers were to visit the establishment, they could still see Marie Antoinette’s cell there.
In a way, the Parisian show marks a comeback for the art collector. In 2005, he moved his art from Paris to Venice and gave up trying to re-develop the area of Ile Seguin owing to its stagnant and bureaucratic nature. However, Palazzo Grassi hosted many of Pinault’s shows. Alongside Pinault’s collection in Paris there was a show at Punta Del Dogana in Venice. The shows are incomparable. Not only is Pinault’s Stingel a site-specific show, but it is also one of Venice’s most beautiful palaces restored by Tadao Ando. The jewel island’s magical feeling surrounds the building. The show was mesmerizing. It was a cross-cultural experience where East meets West with the use of Eastern carpets and Western religious icons. The carpets absolutely engulfed the space and were even on the walls and in the elevators. The installation, which was a repetitive succession of similar rooms, gave the viewer a sense of getting lost in an Escher like world. In addition, there was a non-invasive presence of ultra-light silver paintings, breaking up the routine of the rooms. The silver paintings were moments and epiphanies, instances of ultra minimalism in a decorative environment. They shined like bright stars among a series of repetitions – a glimmer in the vast cosmos.
The Parisian exhibition, “A’ Triple Tour” dealt with the theme of confinement. The show took place in a dark, red, and gloomy basement commemorated with ghosts of the revolution. Macabre memories of the guillotines and of the executioners filled the air. I respect Pinault’s social commitment to the art world but it’s hard for me to understand why someone would want to own more than 50 artworks dealing with psychological, physical, and ideological imprisonment. I also wondered, ‘how big could the Pinault collection actually be?’
It took me a long time to process the exhibition. It did not satisfy me. It could have been better. I felt that the exhibition lacked research and a more serious and socially responsible approach. It completely left out themes of imprisonment from the last decade such as Guantanamo Bay. I think a Botero painting would have been a fine addition.
Among the artworks displayed was an installation from artists Suan Yuan and Peng Yu called, ‘Old Person’s Home’. It was a Cattelan-esque installation created with Madam Tussaud’s style wax figures of old men representing the high degrees of different religious and political powers. The wax bodies were set up on wheelchairs and would move around randomly evoking some kind of grotesque and schizophrenic fun fair.
But after all, long live Pinault. I give him thanks for continuing to share his art experience.
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Contributor, Fiammetta De Michele
Milan-based, Fiammetta De Michele is an art advisor, curator and founder of DOGMA. Raised in a family of art collectors, she naturally fell in love with all the manifestations of art. She spent years making conceptual, video and performance art. She has been widely published and exhibited, including the feature cover of A Rush of Culture. Having access to incredible artists studios and collections, De Michele decided to share this experience online. Dogma is a concept space, an independent platform, and a digital arena for experimentation.