ParisBertrand Lavier: Nouveaux tableaux, 2005
Bertrand Lavier’s work has too often been reduced to a set of variations on Marcel Duchamp’s readymade. Pure critical sloth. Paolo Uccello may have used perspective after Masaccio, but that does not make him the latter’s epigone. Uccello was simply using a symbolic system invented before he came along—and giving it a very personal twist. This is what Lavier does: the readymade being for our time what perspective was for the Renaissance, i.e. a visual system, he uses it to talk about the world around him, to express his astonishment at our relationship to history, to time, to representation. Moreover, he apprehends the notion of readymade in an original, cinematic way: he neither exhibits or paints objects—he films them. Let us take the word “film” in both senses: covering with film or recording with a camera. Bertrand Lavier’s camera is the exhibition space itself. And by way of film, he coats images or objects with brushstrokes that faithfully adhere to their lines. So he ‘films’ them; but he couples them too, creating unusual pairings of objects, perfumes, music and so forth. Plus he enhances them by embedding them in unexpected contexts or hooking them up to contemporary systems that give them a boost. For the Lavier oeuvre is made up of special effects: its chosen subject is the degree of illusion needed to sustain images, and its method the techniques that enable displacement of things. In this it can be likened to cinematography, that is to say, the writing of movement. Like René Clair, Lavier always comes up with unexpected theories; and like Sacha Guitry, he uses form to organize a discourse that runs deeper than it seems. An artist of the long haul, he “manufactures stopped time”: each work is like an apnea in the flow of images. When he produced this series of Frank Stella revivals in 2005, updating works painted by the American artist in the 1960s, his use of neon added a soundtrack, like a transition from the acoustic to the electric guitar. His cover versions of Stella are an amplification—complete with distortion and feedback. But sounds, or styles, are also dating factors: any image is read by a date. The Lascaux cave paintings date not only from the prehistoric moment of their genesis; they are also contemporaries of Picasso and Henry Moore, who really saw them. Thus the New Paintings 2005, presented in 2021, are transformed yet again.
– Nicolas Bourriaud
Born in 1949 in Châtillon sur Seine, Bertrand Lavier lives and works in Paris and Aignay‐le‐Duc, near Dijon (France).
His work has been part of numerous solo and group exhibitions around the world: at the Centre Pompidou, the Musée d’Art Moderne de Paris, the Grand Palais, the Louvre Museum, the Musée d’Orsay, at the musée du quai Branly–Jacques Chirac, the Palais de Tokyo, the Monnaie de Paris, the Bourse de Commerce–Pinault Collection and the Punta della Dogana– Pinault Collection in Venice, the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris and the Espace Louis Vuit‐ton in Tokyo, the Château de Versailles, the Fondation Vincent van Gogh in Arles, the Con‐sortium in Dijon, the Tate Gallery and the Serpentine Gallery in London, the Villa Sauber in Monaco, the Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels, at the Middelheim Museum in Antwerp, the Martin Gropius Bau in Berlin, the Haus der Kunst in Munich, the Kunsthalle Fridericianum in Kassel, the Frankfurter Kunstverein in Frankfurt am Main, the MAMCO in Geneva, the Kunsthalle in Berne, the Macro Museo d’Arte Contemporanea di Roma and the Villa Medici in Rome, the mumok museum moderner kunst stiftung ludwig wien in Vienna, the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, the MoMA PS1 and the Swiss Institute in New York, the Museum of Contemporary Art in San Diego, the Maison Hermès Dosan Park in Seoul, the Hong Kong Museum of Art, the Hôtel Le Bristol, Paris, as well as part of the Venice Biennale.
His work is currently exhibited at the Bourse de Commerce–Pinault Collection in Paris and at the Convent of the Jacobins in Rennes, at the Espace de l’Art Concret in Mouans‐Sartoux, at the Boghossian‐Villa Empain Foundation in Brussels, at the Consortium in Dijon, and soon at the Collection Lambert in Avignon.
His sculpture Quelque chose de… a tribute to Johnny Hallyday will be visible on the esplanade Johnny Hallyday [8 boulevard de Bercy] in Paris from September 2021.
© ADAGP Bertrand Lavier. Courtesy the artist and kamel mennour, Paris/London