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Step into a die-hard collector’s lifestyle why don’t you?

August in Paris. Same conversation, different day.

“Where did/will you go on vacation this summer?” Blah, blah, blah.

Quite possibly the most boring month of the year has just concluded in the French capital and isn’t it a relief that one art show came through with the goods in the inspiration stakes. Putting a halt to any further, ritualistic-like questions involving the weather, an onslaught of tourists, and so on.

“Have you been to La Maison Rouge yet?” Yes.

Note: For any Frenchies reading this text who have not yet paid the art space a visit, shame on you. Its time to revive your cultural agenda!

Put simply, its a concept. Fifteen rooms (three bathrooms included) spanning a 1000 square-metre gallery space. The layout resembles that of an unfinished floor plan, with external fittings kept to a neatly-designed minimum. The idea, originally conceived by famed writer and psychoanalyst Gerard Wajcman, is this: hardcore art collectors relocate rooms ranging from an office to a living room, a bathroom or a bedroom into La Maison Rouge for a four-month period. The reasoning, in essence, of the show named “L’intime, le collectionneur derriere la porte”, is to enable the average art fan to imagine what it would be like to live amongst these works.

Take, for example, the office. A three-metre plus-sized bear with a huge grin on his face (Paul McCarthy) greets us at the doorway. In the corner, a medicine cabinet (Damien Hirst) filled with, as we say in France, n’importe quoi (whatever). A Japanese figurine table-piece (Murakami) rests alongside a stack of art books. And behind the desk, a giant-sized photograph of the Hong Kong stock exchange (Andreas Gursky), lines the facing wall. Now if that’s not an replica of a die-hard contemporary art collector’s working environment then I don’t know what is.

Having relentlessly dominated conversations since its opening in June, the new art space located in the Bastille district is fronted by a man named Antoine de Galbert, aka a respected figure amid the French art scene. And its true to say what has sculpted the success of this, the premiere show (which runs through until September 26th, 2004) is the wide assortment of selected works.

Marking a highlight for most is the small hallway-type space which separates a dining room from a toilet. In this ten-metre squared space, seven stuffed pigeons (Maurizio Cattelan) lurk above a doorway and giggles are heard by suprised viewers. Through an archway, one can view the following set-up: a living room filled with classic furniture design from the 60’s, a miniature Marc Newson chair on a bookshelf, and a strategically placed plaque by Jenny Holzer, among other pieces of photography etc.

All in all, its an experience like none other, and one which surpasses any such notions of another try-hard display of Eames chairs, Philippe Starck creations and an occasional Basquiat on show. One only needs to inspect the final room of the show located in a basement to confirm this. A bedroom filled with African skulls, a virgin-like saint buried in a glass coffin and tv monitors strategically positioned at each corner of the bed, playing re-runs of women cavorting on a mattress. All in the name of Art for art’s sake, naturally.

La Maison Rouge – Fondation Antoine de Galbert
Address: 10, bd de la Bastille, 75012 Paris
Tel: +33(1) 40 01 08 81
Open: Friday – Sunday: 11:00 – 19:00, Thursday: 11:00 – 21:00

Text and Photos Linlee Allen from colette

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