FREEDOM OF CREATION & TASTE FOR REFINED SIMPLICITY
“We are open to all kinds of materials: plant objects, feathers, fibreglass, recovery of chain links found in the sea. We only had one requirement: being able to be free in our choice, and not politically correct.”
Côme Remy, expert in 20th century and contemporary decorative arts.
The tone is set: boldness will be the motto of the new edition of Révélations at the Grand Palais, with several new events, one of which is the Hors Les Murs programme. On May 25, the expert maverick Côme Remy and Charlotte du Vivier-Lebrun will present an auction at Drouot entitled “Manière et Matière” (Style and Material), perfectly illustrating the dynamism of contemporary fine craft praised by the organizers. As the initiator of the first edition of the show in 2013 and member of the Artistic Direction Committee in 2019, Serge Nicole insists on Revelations’ responsibility “to pull towards quality”, “to represent creation in movement”, and “to give artisans-designers the opportunity to give the best of themselves”.
“France’s wealth is its artistic richness, but if there is no style or material, it misses the point.”
Côme Remy, expert in 20th century and contemporary decorative arts.
It is the behind-the-scenes mission of experts to instill boldness into a work that is sometimes perceived as “a little too prudent”. Through “a real dialogue”, craft artists are pushed to dare more. “We’re here to blow people’s minds!” The selection of 140 pieces and 86 creators does not necessarily come from members of Ateliers d’Art de France, organizer of the Biennial. Apart from the requirement to exhibit works that were made in France, the pieces were selected with “total freedom” and high creative standards. Technical mastery is not enough though. Make the material speak and give it a meaning, a curiosity, a point of view is a must.
Carried out in the Drouot spirit, the auction, made up of pieces estimated at 300 to 20,000 euros, will unveil singular creative voices, pointing out to some key trends in contemporary craft creation as well.
A TASTE FOR AN ALCHEMY OF REFINED AND BOLD SIMPLICITY
The appropriation of very simple materials is “a big trend”, according to Charlotte du Vivier-Lebrun. “From very, very simple things, we get to extraordinary things, without adding anything. According to Côme Rémy, “We are in the Art Deco period for the richness of the materials, but also their simplicity, we love the material rich in itself, and we are in the modernity in the sense that we want the thing to be practical, comfortable, and not flashy. Matter vibrates with the body”.
Amid it all is a pronounced taste for minerals, earth, with a strong presence of enamel. Added to this, the objects abound with unexpected materials: pieces of fossilized ostrich egg shells, rolled rope or wickerwork. Each crafted artwork was selected for the quality of its concept combined with the excellence of its execution. Recycling as a creative act is also embodied by William Amor’s precious bouquet of flowers created from the collection of plastic bags in the street. Each little piece of plastic is reworked, re-dyed, with an amazing meticulousness. Sometimes, the object is designed as an extension of the body, like earrings with a sleek style: without a hanging system thanks to a wire sculpture to be directly threaded into the ear hole. Each object presented required research and effort to produce surprising works. In any case, concludes Côme Rémy, the trend is towards an object “that reflects happiness, softness and humour, with a twist”.
CONTEMPORARY FINE CRAFT IS STARTING TO GAIN MOMENTUM ON THE MARKET
The revival of fine craft now investing prestigious auctions can be explained by buyers who have now “less complexes” thanks to the opening of the market, the arrival of the Internet, and “a change in mentality among craft artists and a form of openness”, observes Charlotte du Vivier-Lebrun. The time had come to “create a platform for contemporary fine craft” as “a way of promoting an object that carries meaning: the gesture, the style and the concept tell something that is exceptional”. In light of the evolving context, it’s the market that makes the price, pointing out the notable fact that collectors no longer hesitate to entrust their collections. No need to wait 20 years for a collector to sell his/her pieces, like contemporary ceramics sold twice a year by the expert, and sold more expensive than in the gallery… In short, these are “positive signals” of the enthusiasm for contemporary fine craft. And, that echoes the issue of the economic potential of the fine craft market that is promoted by the Révélations Biennial
What’s more, there is another battle behind-the-scenes at the biennial: the event is regarded as “a tool that has been passed on with the aim of economic development and ensuring visibility through actions”, insists Aude Tahon, President of Ateliers d’Arts de France and President of the Révélations exhibition, recalling that the organizers helped to pass the 2014 French law on crafts, trade and very small businesses, which gives a legal definition of fine craft. “A aha moment that will enable to go further in terms of regulations in favor on craft artists,” she rejoices.
“There’s a before and an after the Revelations show.”
Aude Tahon, President of Ateliers d’Arts de France and President of the Révélations exhibition
The 2019 edition continues to take off and will extend over 500 m2, bringing together 33 countries and some 400 designers, representing an increasing number of exhibitors, with more than 700 applications received this year. The international dimension is becoming more and more important. This edition highlights Luxembourg through a project supported by the association De Mains De Maîtres Luxembourg highlighting the surprising creative dynamism of artists in the field in the region. The Crafting Europe exhibition will showcase the richness of European crafts, a new feature of the 2019 edition. From Western Europe to Central Europe, not to mention the Nordic countries, 18 countries will be represented by 24 creators for a journey through a Europe of creation.
Determined to make the unique voice of craftspeople heard in this context of revival of fine craft, the biennial praises the “choice” and “life commitment” of craftspeople, insists Aude Tahon. That is why an ever stronger “international dialogue” with European partners and beyond is being developed. A flagship event organized by Ateliers d’Art de France and the World Crafts Council Europe, the symposium “Crafting Europe: Towards a European strategy for fine craft” will raise the issue of fine craft on a European scale with a view to concerting around common definitions and highlighting regulatory constraints concerning access to materials, for example.
For now, Aude Tahon concludes with confidence on “the appetite for fine craft in today’s society” as “a valorization of local productions, an opportunity to give production issues a rethink and meaning”. Born of ancient craft traditions, contemporary fine craft is now fashionable – after having been abandoned or left in the shadow of design houses.
“There is a before and an after the Revelations show,” she insists. The fair enables sales, of course, but also, and above all, in the long term, a spirit of boldness is nurtured by the creative effervescence encouraged by the show. Many craft artists now wish to present a piece especially created for the biennial. All in all, the event goes beyond the initial project of valuing fine craft in terms of image: the Révélations Biennial ends up powering experimentation, opening up the field of possibilities for contemporary fine craft, increasingly attracting wide support from across the industry, besides the general public: collectors, architects, decorators, gallery owners, purchasing offices and artistic directors of luxury houses.
To know more about the programme of the Révélations Biennal.
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