Friendships in art — Collective works
From Sunday 16 October 2022 to Monday 13 February 2023
In 1871, at the Hôtel des Étrangers, in Paris’ Latin Quarter, practically at the same time as or just after the Commune (in which several of the latter took part) a dozen of the greatest rebel poets, including Arthur Rimbaud, Paul Verlaine, Charles Cros, Germain Nouveau and André Gill, came together around a common project, co-written and designed, outsized and, in more than one respect, subversive: the Album Zutique. It was one of the first and most important collective works that heralded the modern spirit in Europe.
Over the course of the twentieth century, some artists and poets devoted themselves even more than others to intersubjective experimentation and cooperative working methods, beginning with the Dadaists and the Surrealists. The Cadavres Exquis, first written and then drawn collectively from 1925 onwards by the Surrealists according to the principle of intuitive or ‘automatic’ collaboration, is the most striking example. It is this explosive mixture of the inventions of professional artists and writers with those of “citizens from elsewhere” that provided one of the most disruptive and liberating contributions of “group eros”.
Looking at the artistic production of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, it appears that many collaborations between artists are the result of friendships, fortuitous or deliberate encounters (such as the Cacodylic Eye by Picabia and his close friends in 1921), or the Grand Tableau Antifasciste Collectif, a choral cry of revolt against colonialism and torture in 1960). Here it is the spontaneous mode of production, which allows creative energies to be multiplied, that is more important than any other technical or formal concern.
From Picasso to Picabia, from Calder to Miró, from Gabrielle Buffet to Arp, from Hains to Bryen and Villeglé, from Matta to Brauner, from Brecht to Filliou, from Beuys to Paik, from Germaine Richier to Hartung, from Salomé to Fetting, from Camilla Adami to Peter Saul, from Klein to Tinguely, from Spoerri to Kaprow, from Warhol to Basquiat, from McCarthy to Rhoades, from Roth to Rainer, from Burroughs to Gysin, from Pommereulle to Fleischer ─ not forgetting the various forms of action art, including the Happening – a hundred works will be brought together offering for the first time ever different types of collaborative works from public and private collections.
This exhibition will provide evidence that philosophers, writers, musicians, filmmakers ─ all genres – have also produced experimental collective works that, by their very singularity, challenge and question the scale of “market values” and dominant aesthetic codes.
An illustrated catalogue will include essays giving a history of these productions, specifying the choices made as well as those of the works discarded, opening up avenues of reflection on the passage from I to WE. We will see that certain artists have accomplished a collegial and intersubjective qualitative leap to which academic historians have until now remained stubbornly blind.