Frac Bretagne, La Criée centre d'art contemporain, Musée des beaux-arts, Rennes
In the context of
With the support of
Art is Magic
Art is Magic is the first French retrospective of the celebrated English artist Jeremy Deller (1966, London), winner of the prestigious 2004 Turner Prize and Britain’s representative at the Venice Biennale in 2013.
Deller is interested in popular culture and counter-cultures. His artistic inquiries focus not just on social issues and history but also on music. Deller’s oeuvre is tinged with acerbic humour and conscious socio-political discourse, making a connection between vernacular or mass culture and the world of work. The artist’s quest has led him to explore the social history of his country and further afield via the social conflict of the Thatcher era, the pop group Depeche Mode, the world of wrestling, the spawning ground of Brexit… and even acid house and the rave movement. In each case, Deller has constantly strived to involve other people in the creative process.
The Art is Magic exhibition provides a broad overview of Deller’s work from the 1990s to the present day, focusing on 15 major projects and key works that have marked his career. In addition, the event will be an opportunity to publish the first retrospective of the artist’s work in French.
Art is Magic exhibition is a city-wide co-production that takes place in the spaces of Frac Bretagne, La Criée Centre d’art contemporain and the Musée des beaux-arts de Rennes.
It is part of the Exporama summer season organised by the City of Rennes and Rennes Métropole. It resonates with the exhibition Forever Sixties of the Pinault Collection, at the Couvent des Jacobins in Rennes, which explores the spirit of the 1960s between liberation and repression.
In 1956, the French artists Gil J. Wolman and Guy Debord proposed a guide to détournement, re-purposing advertisements and magazines as a means of subverting society. This practice, which included cutting up city maps to encourage unplanned excursions through the city of Paris, was a way to effect disorientation. As the writers stated: “not many people would remain unaffected by an exact reconstruction in one city of an entire neighbourhood of another.”
Détour presents selected works from the collection of the FRAC Bretagne in Rennes, France. In addition to Gil J. Wolman’s 1960s collages, the exhibition includes artworks such as Raymond Hains’ photographs of signs found in rural villages, Vera Molnar’s computer-generated renderings of the Saint-Victoire mountain range, and Charlotte Moth’s filmed depiction of Parisian architecture. Thomas Teurlai and Ugo Schiavi’s display showcases scrolls of recovered graffiti samples, while Isabelle Arthuis’ evocative black-and-white images capture the landscape during a nocturnal eclipse. Through works by contemporary international artists, Détour reimagines and reconstructs the FRAC Bretagne collection, transposed to Rennes’ sister city of Cork and the Glucksman’s unique architectural setting.
Curated by Chris Clarke
Basel Abbas & Ruanne Abou-Rahme,
Sigurdur Árni Sigurdsson,
Pauline Boudry & Renate Lorenz,
Thomas Teurlai & Ugo Schiavi,
Franz Erhard Walther,
Gil J. Wolman
Détour: Selected works from the Frac Bretagne collection is supported by The Arts Council Ireland, University College Cork and private philanthropy through Cork University Foundation.
Deposit of the Centre national des arts plastiques
Born in 1960, Berlin-based Austrian artist Peter Friedl is a major presence on the international art scene. He started out as a theatre critic in the early 1980s, before devoting himself to the visual arts, and he retains a strong connection to the theatre. This is reflected in his exhibitions, which are made like actual sets, with and without set changes, according to the complexity of the project.
In a quest for new narrative forms, his projects explore, in specifically organized contexts, the construction of history and concepts, always informed by revisiting major themes, including childhood, history, sociology and the animal world. With wit and irony, the artist points out the dead ends of modernity, between the utopias of yesterday and today’s compromises.
The many references in his works, and the various methods he uses to express them (drawing, video, photography, installation, etc.) constitute a dense corpus, blending the suggestion of personal history with that of the collective. Friedl’s work is difficult to grasp in an instant; rather, it demands to be considered dynamically. The artist explains that he is looking for ambiguity and confusion, never the precision of an immediate reading. In 1998 he claimed “that misunderstanding is part of understanding”.
Untitled (Corrupting the Absolute) is composed of handwritten letters in red neon.
It transcribes a reference, jotted down in one of the many notebooks that the artist – an attentive observer – carries with him during the course of his daily life, borrowed from the American essayist and rock critic Greil Marcus*.
An underground cult figure, Marcus likes to underscore the oppositions and contrary forces that construct an artist’s genius, just as Peter Friedl emphasizes the analogies as much as the ruptures and gaps that provoke vertigo.
“Corrupting the Absolute” asserts itself as an abstract injunction to remind us that art, if it exists, does not deliver answers, that it first and foremost pushes us to question ourselves. Installed in the lobby, this piece can be seen as an introduction to the philosophy of the Frac Bretagne.
*Corrupting the Absolute is the title of a chapter of the untranslated book: In the Fascist Bathroom: Punk in Pop Music, 1977-1992, published by Greil Marcus in 1993.
Yes ! There are backstage at the Frac. The display is full of surprises, don’t you think? These heights, the visual echoes between paintings and photographs are indeed astonishing. Maybe you already know it : this collection is yours. It is a common good that a team of professionals is taking care of so that in decades, we can still understand and appreciate it.
The Frac Bretagne collection brings together works of artists from different generations and art scenes whether local, regional and international. Abstraction is one of the historical bases of the collection which also unfolds around thematic axes: works in relation to nature, that question the status of the contemporary image, the artist as a witness to his/her time, as well as as large monographic bodies.
The works go in and out from this storage for exhibitions and participatory projects. The FRACs are indeed the most widely distributed public collections in France. This principle of mobility defines these institutions as essential players in regional policies aiming to reduce geographical and social disparities in access to culture. Thus, FRACs are facilitating the discovery of contemporary art by the most diverse types of publics.
For you, the Frac has recorded voices to listen to. You’ll her an improbable flight attendant, fine connoisseur of conservation issues, witnesses recounting their memories of the works that you can see, technicians who know the collection better than anyone, works that speak to each other… and also the public with whom the Frac sets up numerous projects throughout the region and who has bring art pieces into their venues.
The history of the Frac Bretagne is closely linked to that of the sculpture park of the Domaine de Kerguéhennec in Morbihan, which in the 1980s was a magnificent playground for artists as prestigious as Richard Long, Giuseppe Penone and Jean Pierre Raynaud.
Their experiments in this Morbihan park helped build the identity of the Frac and its collection, which is particularly oriented towards landscape issues.
In 1991, Robert Milin was invited to participate in Escales, an event curated by Jérôme Sans, which proposed to invest various places in the Côtes-d’Armor in a close relationship with the landscape. The artist then became interested in a small rural commune, Saint-Carré, and its inhabitants, with whom he made friends. Sharing with them the local life, at the crossroads of ancestral activities – work of the fields and care of the animals – and of the modern life, he has soon access to the personal photographs of several families.
In these boxes lie as many silent witnesses of the collective religious or secular events that have marked the village, as intimate moments that take on importance only in the history of each. He chose to bring 13 of these photos to light by enlarging them, transferring them either to enamel plates or to porcelain, and placing them, with the active complicity of the inhabitants, in different parts of Saint-Carré: the playground, the gable of a barn, the henhouse, etc. In doing so, he created a work of public art that overturned the usual canons, notably in the relationship between the private and the public: the private became public and the entire village an open-air exhibition space.
In 1994, the Frac Bretagne acquired Saint-Carré, a work that particularly resonates with one of its essential missions, to bring the citizen closer to the challenges of today’s art. Like any work in the public space, Saint-Carré has suffered the assaults of time and the vagaries of weather. Carried by the common will of the inhabitants, the Frac Bretagne and the artist, a restoration was undertaken at the good care of the latter in 2018. In addition to the renovation of certain pieces, this process led to the reorganization of the hanging, to take into account the changes in ownership, the evolution of the building and the roadway.
L’autre musée, the treasures of a major contemporary art collection
In 2023, in France, the Fonds régionaux d’art contemporain celebrate their 40th anniversary!
Established in 1981, the Frac Bretagne has been building up a nationally and internationally reknown collection of contemporary art over the last four decades. Often unknown by a wide audience, it nevertheless holds more than 5,500 works by more than 750 artists of over 80 nationalities.
The exhibition is an opportunity to highlight and emphasize what this regional heritage conceals in terms of nuggets.
Among these treasures, there are of course great names of French and international art, such as Pierre Soulages, Vera Molnar, Martha Rosler or Andy Warhol, that the Frac Bretagne had the opportunity to acquire the works of at a time when the art market still allowed it. But there are also many other artists, younger or less renowned, whose works, as fascinating as delicate, describe and problematize our world.
The exhibition does not have any theme. Rather, it is a display of works that represent both the main axes of the Frac Bretagne collection and the diversity of art forms of the last forty years. Through the practices of about sixty artists from all horizons, the audience will discover abstract painting, drawing, photography, sculpture, installations, artists’ books as well as video.
So many abundant treasures that are a common heritage that people from Brittany will have the opportunity to discover during this anniversary exhibition.
Bern et Hilla Becher
Monia Ben Hamouda
Jacqueline De Jong
Marion Scemama et David Wojnarowicz