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 1500 artists of over 125 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
Claire Guetta, Louis Guillaume, Cécile Le Guillou and Charlotte Vitaioli: It’s not easy to make the connection between them all! And indeed, these four artists’ propositions have very little to do with each other. They were brought together not so much to make a statement together, but because they are finalists of the Prix du Frac Bretagne – Art Norac. This exhibition should be seen as a concentration of creativity in Brittany, a snapshot of the formal diversity, poetry and artistic energy that our region has to offer.
In 2020, Frac Bretagne and its patron Art Norac created the Prix du Frac Bretagne – Art Norac. The aim of this prize is to help emerging artists from the regional scene to gain international experience in order to encourage them to develop their careers outside our borders.
In spring 2024, one of the four artists will be working at the Instituto Incluzartis in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, for a six-week residency followed by a solo exhibition.
After meeting each artist in their studio, Victor Gorgulho, curator of exhibitions and Lucas Albuquerque, curator of residencies programm at Instituto Inclusartiz, attributed the Frac Bretagne – Art Norac 2023 Award to Céline Le Guillou.
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.
Shot in Louroujina, a small village in the unrecognized Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus, the film centers on the figure of a soldier who guards the southern border with the Greek-Cypriot-dominated Republic of Cyprus. During his long and tedious guards, the hills inhabited by the “enemy” become the scene of the soldier’s fantasies and daydreams. The Watchman continues Ali Cherri’s critical investigation of border politics, nation-building and the radical potential of the imagination. The artist also evokes the historical links of migration between Cyprus and Lebanon, as well as those between Nicosia, the divided capital of Cyprus, and Beirut, the artist’s hometown, which was also divided during the Lebanese civil war.
Curators: Alessandro Rabottini and Leonardo Bigazzi
The exhibition will be accompanied by a monographic catalog published by Lenz Press and produced by Galerie Imane Fares, Paris.
Ali Cherri (Beirut, 1976) lives and works in Paris.