Portraits d’intérieurs

10.07.2014 - 01.02.2015 / Villa Sauber

Dessin original de Marc Camille Chaimowicz

Wallpaper, carpets and curtains, pictures, mirrors, flowers and cups of tea… The exhibition Portraits d’Intérieurs introduces the different areas of Villa Sauber re-visited and presented by five contemporary artists.

Drawing from a repertory of forms borrowed from literature, art history, stage and film, Marc-Camille Chaimowicz, Danica Dakic, Brice Dellsperger, Nick Mauss and Laure Prouvost renew our perception of the former abode of the English painter Robert Sauber by developing different elements of décors in each of the museum’s rooms.

The source of Portraits d’Intérieurs lies in a private collection of rooms, through two installations by the artists Marc-Camille Chaimowicz and Nick Mauss, specifically rekindled for Villa Sauber.

A laminated plywood screen slides back to reveal the installation Jean Cocteau… – an imaginary bedroom of the poet, inspired by the décor of Les Enfants Terribles (1929) and made out of painted wooden panels, carpets, and various pieces of furniture and objects that Marc-Camille Chaimowicz made or found. Placed throughout the former living room of Villa Sauber, these elements recreate an old-fashioned bourgeois interior that resembles the “chamber theater” imagined by Cocteau, a combination of memorabilia and references to art history. Concurrently to this installation, Marc-Camille Chaimowicz presents a selection of works chosen from the NMNM’s collections, underpinned by Jean Cocteau’s relationship with the Ballets Russes and the Principality of Monaco. Christian Bérard’s ethereal drawings for Cotillon and The Seventh Symphony are shown alongside Joan Miro’s set decoration for Jeux d’Enfants. A unique ceramic piece, which Jean Cocteau made in 1958 for the Cap d’Ail theatre, is also presented for the first time.

Nick Mauss’ piece Concern, Crush, Desire is a reconstruction of an antechamber decorated by Christian Bérard in 1939 for Guerlain’s Champs-Elysées Institute, and encases the works selected from the NMNM’s collections in yellow velvet and cotton appliqué. Nick Mauss’ drawings interact with several set decoration projects: Pavel Tchelitchew’s scenery for the ballet Ode, an annotated scale model of the set created by Natalia Goncharova for La Péri, as well as two photographs in which Constantin Brancusi captures Lizica Codreanu dancing to Satie’s Gymnopedies, and Cocteau’s drawings of Bérard made up and dressed as a transvestite.

The theatrical dimension of these interiors and the confusion between the exhibition space and the space of the stage are extended in five video installations.

With the video installation Wantee, produced by Tate Britain on the occasion of the exhibition Schwitters in Britain, the artist Laure Prouvost invites spectators to enter a reconstruction of “Grandad”’s cabin (her fictional grandfather), a conceptual artist close to Schwitters whose companion Edith Thomas was nicknamed “Wantee”. Drawings, paintings, sculptures, ceramics and furniture make up the décor of this strange place where people lived and created, thus questioning the nature and function of art.

The installation Isola Bella, devised by Bosnian artist Danica Dakic, is announced by three posters hanging over a display case that contains accessories for a show: eight paper masks and a series of hand-written notes, most certainly acting instructions. The title Isola bella, is borrowed from a panoramic décor of wallpaper created by the Züber company in 1842. For two weeks, a reproduction of this wallpaper was installed in the home for mentally handicapped children and adolescents at Pazaric in Bosnia, turning a small auditorium into a cinema set. Against a paradise island backdrop, the residents of the home become actors in short presentations in which they play and improvise their own lives.

By freely re-creating the décors of certain cult films, the visual artist Brice Dellsperger produces remakes which he puts together under the overall title Body Double. Within one and the same image, several characters evolve, usually played by the actor himself, filmed against a green backcloth and then apparently embedded in an artificial décor. The characters seem to float in the décor, becoming dangerously detached from it, and ready to topple into the image. The exhibition presents Brice Dellsperger’s two latest films, made in 2013. BD29 now belongs to the NMNM collection, thanks to UBS patronage.

For the exhibition Portraits d’Intérieurs, the NMNM is producing a specific publication bringing together five posters created by the artists on view.Villa Sauber is opening a new shop, offering, in particular, artists’ wallpapers, publications and ceramics.For the duration of the exhibition, the design of the Salon de Lecture will be entrusted to Antoinette Poisson, a Parisian decoration firm specialised in the restoration and edition of domino wallpaper. Three styles of papers drawn, printed, and painted using 18th century traditional techniques will be specially reissued and associated with the votive boxes preserved at the NMNM.

Curator : Célia Bernasconi

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