Centre Pompidou – Metz, France
Co-Produced by Fondation d’Enterprise Hermès
13 June 2014 ~ 5 January 2015
Curator: Jean de Loisy
Associate Curators: Sandra Adam-Couralet and Mouna Mekouar
Exhibited Work: Circle II, 2011, Video, Collection of Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
Press Release: The years between the 19th and 20th centuries saw the return of quintessential forms through major universal expositions which devised a new repertoire of shapes, the simplicity of which would captivate artists and revolutionise the modern philosophy. They introduced, within the evolution of modern art, both an alternative to the eloquence of the human body and the possibility that shapes could be a universal concept.
Nascent debates in physics, mathematics, phenomenology, biology and aesthetic had important consequences on mechanics, industry, architecture and art in general. While visiting the 1912 Salon de la Locomotion Aérienne with Constantin Brancusi and Fernand Léger, Marcel Duchamp stopped short before an aeroplane propeller and declared, “Painting is dead. Who could better this propeller?”
These pared-down, non-geometric shapes, which occupy space in a constant progression, are no less fascinating today. Minimalist artists such as Ellsworth Kelly and Richard Serra, spiritualist artists such as Anish Kapoor, metaphysical artists such as Tony Smith, or poetic artists such as Ernesto Neto are as attentive to simple shapes as were the inventors of modernity.
The exhibition draws on the senses to explore the appearance of simple shapes in art, nature and tools. This poetic approach is balanced by an analytical view of the twentieth century’s history.
It connects scientific events and technical discoveries with the emergence of modern shapes. Subjects pertaining to industry, mechanics, mathematics, physics, biology, phenomenology and archaeology are equated with objects from art and architecture, which are in turn set alongside their ancient predecessors and natural objects.