Christophe Léribault, director daring the Musée des Beaux-arts, Paris

That’s three months that he waited for this moment. During the containment, Christophe Léribault came every day, by metro, to watch over his dear Little Palace, to inspect the reserves and negotiate of long hours on the phone the reports of its programming. The superb collection of drawings French of Louis-Antoine and Véronique Prat, hung on the rails since mid-march, but remained invisible, can finally be unveiled to the public Tuesday, June 16.

→ TO READ. Second wave of re-opening for national monuments

The couple of collectors has even offered up two leaves in the paris museum. Its director smiles with optimism :” In the months that open, we will have to juggle even more with our budgets, but we will walk, it is obvious. The City of Paris is supporting us, unlike american museums, for example, entirely dependent on the private… “.

At the age of 56, this conservative guard a from the juvenile. He recounts a childhood marked by visits of castles, churches and museums with parents scientific” very loving “. 3 and a half years, he discovers” impressed “the exhibition Tutankhamun, right here, at the Petit Palais. What to feed a solid vocation ? He was only 12 years old when his father dies, swept away by a long illness.

To reassure his mother, the teenager will enroll simultaneously in history and art history at the Sorbonne, before becoming the general curator of the Heritage. “ Make his passion his profession, brings a lot of comfort “, he says soberly.

Lively and full of humor

Appointed first to the Carnavalet, the museum of the history of the City of Paris, Christophe Léribault there goes the exhibits, fascinated by “ the collections are huge, with horse between the history of mentalities, architecture, urban planning and the arts “. A break of a year at the Villa Medici allows him to complete his thesis on Jean-François de Troy, who led the Academy of France in Rome in the Eighteenth century. And specify the corpus of the painter, sometimes confused with that of his father.

In 2006, Henri Loyrette, then head to the Louvre museum, invites this sharp mind to join the department of graphic arts and to lead the museum Delacroix. ” A place emotionally charged “that the grantee renovates, expands, energizes. “ I have a lot ran, of both sides of the Breaste “, he recalls, with its everlasting hint of humor.

Bright colors and live performance

On his arrival at the Petit Palais in 2012, he deploys the same energy. It modernized by bright colors the presentation of the collections, creates a room of the icons, sort, statuary, monumental reserves, expanded in the programming of concerts, films and courses in art history, invites contemporary artists during the international contemporary art Fair (Fiac) and advocate for or piétonnisée the esplanade between the Grand Palais and the Petit Palais.

He even offers to welcome in the gardens located behind the museum the bulky Bouquet of tulips Jeff Koons challenged everywhere else. A prestigious location but discreet, which allows you to renovate in the end these green spaces left behind. ” In the meetings, I’ve always seen to find the solution that makes everyone happy. He has a true talent as a diplomat, and the sense of human relations “salutes his friend, the art historian Adrien Goetz.

Behind the scenes, Christopher Léribault also defends the free access to the municipal art collection and the free reproduction of works. ” Our heritage is derived in large part from donations “pleads he, anxious to open wide the doors of the Petit Palais. Result : the attendance of the museum is three-fold, reaching 1.2 million visitors in 2018. A success alas mitigated since, by the succession of social movements that have paralyzed the centre of Paris.

Exhibitions bold

Its policy of exhibitions, carefully staged, has won yet a loyal audience. The clashes abundant and multidisciplinary” Paris 1900 “or the” Romantic Paris “there are interspersed with bold proposals. Christophe Léribault discover the ile-de-france the work of the Swede Carl Larsson and Anders Zorn, rehabilitating artists that are a bit forgotten as Georges Desvallières. He dares the first retrospective in france of Jacob Jordaens and Luca Giordano, enjoying the spacious rooms of this palace built for the universal exhibition of 1900.

→ (RE) READ. The Paris 1900 is displayed at the Petit Palais

It is endowed with an infinite curiosity, eclectic, very wide “, enjoy Amélie Simier, director of the Bourdelle museum, which has cooked up, with this” wonderful comrade “there is a season Danish in Paris. She currently presents the sculptor Jacobsen. Christophe Léribault had, him, see, because of the containment The golden Age of painting Danishas of 22 September. ” Denmark has closed its borders a priori until the end of August, but we will get there “, he promises, with his moral beating.


Between Haskell and Rosenberg

“When I was a resident at the Villa Medici, I was able to invite the great historian of art, English, Francis Haskell. I accompanied him in Rome for fifteen days, and we’re reviewed on a regular basis then. His writings on the role of collectors and patrons of art, on the differences in the taste depending on the times, and it opened my eyes.

In a museum, he should also be freed from the modes. My other model, this is Pierre Rosenberg, the former president of the Louvre. Immense curator, cataloger, collector, gifted with an eye striking, this maker of projects, full of energy, pushed me for my thesis, and plays a very positive role in the world of art He does not hesitate to say things, but always with tact and fights in favour of the artistic education “.


80 years ago, a poem of Kipling in the face of the nazis entering Paris

The Cross : What happened on June 14, 1940, at the Museum of Man ?

André Delpuech : This morning, the director of the Musée de l’homme, Paul Rivet, takes the initiative to post on the door a poem by the british writer Rudyard Kipling, published in 1885, entitled Thou shalt be a man, my son “, which ends by the famous verse : “If you can keep your courage and your head/When all others lose/Then the Kings, the Gods, the Chance and the Victory/ Will be forever your submissive slaves, / And, which is better than the Kings and Glory / and Thou shalt be a man, my son. “

This act of resistance, on the day of the entry of the Germans in Paris, marked the spirits. Paul Rivet is a physician, anthropologist and américaniste, a former member of the popular Front. He has been engaged in the renovation of the Museum of the Trocadero in 1938, which became the Museum of Man, where then work fifty researchers and technicians, specialists in anthropology and ethnology.

For this director’s iconic, the role of science is to raise awareness and alert on the dangers that threaten society. As early as 1934, while Hitler has been appointed chancellor the previous year in Germany, he founded, together with the physicist Paul Langevin and the philosopher Alain, the Committee of vigilance of the intellectual antifascists.

Paul Rivet located in the museum of German-jewish exiles, and Russian émigrés, including the ethnographer, Boris Vildé and the linguist Anatole Lewitsky. On July 14, 1940, he published an open letter to marshal Petain in which he is critical of the regime with a vengeance, which earned him to be relieved of his duties. Put in danger, he left Paris on 11 February 1941 and joined the British, escaping a police raid of the Gestapo to 24 hours.

That started Paul Rivet at the Museum of Man ?

A. D. : A resistance network is in place as of the summer of 1940 under the leadership of Boris Vildé, Anatole Lewitsky and the librarian Yvette Odo. It is one of the first groups clandestine struggle against the Nazis to appear in occupied France. Around this core revolve of individuals with strong character that the writer Jean Cassou, the journalist Pierre Brossolette, the art historian Agnès Humbert, or Sylvette Leleu, the owner of a garage in Béthune.

The group is working with small units spread throughout the territory by participating in the escape of prisoners and the collection of information. It plays an important role in the information of the Parisians misled by the propaganda of the Vichy regime by publishing in December 1940 the diary Resistance from information from the BBC and an informant working at the embassy of the United States.

In 1941, as reported, Boris Vildé, Yvette Oddon and Anatole Lewitsky are incarcerated. It was then that Germaine Tillon, anthropologist, specialist of the Berbers of Algeria, takes over a part of the museum’s activities. In January 1942, following the trial of these resistant that the press calls the” Case of the Museum of Man “ten of the defendants are sentenced to death, the leaders of the network Boris Vildé and Anatole Lewitsky. Yvonne Oddon finally being deported to Ravensbrück concentration camp. Seven men are executed by firing squad at Mont-Valérien in 1942. On 13 August, Germaine Tillon is stopped to turn and then deported in 1943 to Ravensbrück concentration camp. It is the end of the network at the Museum of Man.

How it resonates with the world today ?

A. D. : The men and women of the network of the Museum of Man have continued to fight to defend the freedom of thought, access to knowledge and the equality of peoples. Since its reopening and its complete redesign in 2015, the Museum of Man continues the missions laid down by its first director : to defend a message of humanist and universalist, and to fight obscurantism.

Through his exhibitions (such as “We and the other, from prejudice to racism “ in 2017-2018), and based on science, the Museum allows one to see the unity of the human species in its diversity so that the public can better understand it.


The collectif Argos brings images of climate change

“Our house is burning… “ If the formula of president Chirac at thethe fourth Earth summit, in September 2002, is now long past, the remedies were slow. The collectif Argos, composed the previous year, has guided its work for nearly twenty years around the environmental concerns.

→ FORUM. Climate : there is no time to lose

At the beginning, this small group of photographers (Hélène David, Cédric Faimali, Laurent Weyl, Guillaume Collanges) seeks above all to share ideas and thoughts. Very quickly, they decide to integrate people from feather in their project.

Account of global warming

At the beginning of the XXIe century, figures, graphs and pie charts of the Grouping of the intergovernmental panel on climate change (Ipcc) are beginning to alarm the media and many governments. “It seemed important to make palpable and sensitive data on global warming “, stresses Guillaume Collanges.

Arles and Perpignan, the fate upset festivals photo

The village of Shishmaref, Alaska, affected by the melting of the permafrost, to the archipelago of Tuvalu submerged by the rising waters, the photographers travel the world to report stories of men and women who bear the brunt of the effects of global warming. They are the first to document and embody the reports a bit boring scientists of the Ipcc.

The project, launched in 2004, extends over several years. A book is coming out in 2007, which will be re-released. The photo Festival La Gacilly, also involved in an ecological approach virtuous, promotes an exhibition of their work in the same year.

Identify and illustrate the positive initiatives

The exhibition then travels through France, accompanied by conferences and meetings. The exchanges are rich and also reveal the impact of the local climate, as well as the initiatives that are taken at this scale. In the wider world at its doorstep, the loop is closed.

The culmination of this work is reached when, in 2009, the embassy of France program, their exposure to the COP15 in Copenhagen, which will strengthen the urge of the collective to continue to dig the furrow environment. A commitment that requires time and money : everybody is going about his work, is dedicated to reports about the society, working on the news, responds to commands, but never stray too far from the path set.

The team is ready again to write a second chapter on the actors of the transition energy. The project “Footprint” identifies small and large initiatives, the Amap Île-de-France the development of wind power in Cape Verde.

A new exhibition, visible in early 2021

It finds its culmination in the dawn of the COP21 in Paris with an exhibition at the town hall. A touch of color and optimism after observing the very dark of the first component. “It seemed to us essential to also bear witness of the solutions “says Jérômine Derigny, who joined the collective in 2006.

→ TO READ. Of science fiction to the “climate-fiction” : novels for thinking about the climate change

Nearly twenty years have passed, some members left, new ones arrived, but the spirit remains. The collectif Argos lives his life, always on the alert on disordered ecological. A page is written today with a new documentary series titled ” Bitter “. They leave, this time, to the meeting of small fishermen deprived of their livelihood by private interests, tourism or industrial.

The exhibition, postponed because of the sars coronavirus, will be visible early next year, on the occasion of the world Congress of the international Union for the conservation of nature (IUCN) in Marseille.


Philippe Cognée, painting disintegration and rebirth

Philippe Cognée easily accommodated the long period of confinement. Her life will not have been so much disrupted by this moment of pause, shared by the whole population. In his studio in Vertou (Loire-Atlantique), on the peaceful outskirts of Nantes, surrounded by trees and flowers which he takes great care of, this affable but fundamentally lonely artist, who lived much of his childhood and of his adolescence in Benin – where his father was a teacher – took advantage of this suspended time to complete a bulky work, 8 meters high by 4 meters wide, a tower forming a kind of hourglass, commissioned by the Departmental Center from the Isère archives.

A titanic site to which he thought he should devote more time: “I’m a little obsessive. Beyond the stress that this virus brings and all the questions that go with it, this confinement helped me to think only about this subject without being entertained by anything else. I may be working less densely and yet surely more ”, explains this former winner of the Villa Medici (in 1990). This curious period will necessarily have an influence on his future work. There is always time “To absorb a subject before spitting it out in a pictorial form, to understand how one can translate emotions and impressions, because a painting is not just a simple illustration”.

A technique all his own

His distance from Paris and his installation in this house-workshop gave this artist, born in 1957, the opportunity to refine for years his unique technique, based on research of images captured on the Net, and on the use beeswax, heated with an iron and then crushed by a plastic film, which he uses as a binder, instead of oil or acrylic, to make his colors. The uneven texture and the relief of the painted surfaces, producing a blurred effect, stamp his trademark, whatever the themes he exploits: contemporary architecture like low-cost buildings, supermarket shelves, tagged houses or everyday objects, from an ordinary fridge to a simple chair.

Philippe Cognée regularly changed the theme according to his instincts. Over the years, his work, which legitimately adorns the collections of the Center Pompidou, the Fondation Cartier or the Museum Ludwig in Cologne, has never stopped evolving.

Moving landscapes in Chaumont-sur-Loire

The fields, wild or cultivated, and the forests which surround it represent an inexhaustible and continuous source of inspiration. He recently exhibited at the Templon gallery in Paris, to which he has been linked since 2003, an impressive series of flowers withered or in a state of advanced decay. These sunflowers, peonies, roses or amaryllis spring like metaphors from human flesh, evoking the fragility of passing time. Whether he paints an urban, bucolic environment or even a portrait, all his subjects carry with them this double dimension of disintegration and rebirth.

When public places can reopen, this painter “Of the world as it is” will reveal around thirty large canvases in the galleries of the Château de Chaumont-sur-Loire (Loir-et-Cher), a place which is dear to him (1). This regular visitor to the Art Season and the Garden Festival cherished the hope that Chantal Colleu-Dumond, the Director of the Estate, sooner or later invited him to exhibit. By presenting his landscapes in movement, Philippe Cognée follows in the footsteps of Edouard Manet, of whom he boasts the incredible modernity of painting. ” But, unlike the great Impressionist masters, he does not put his easel in front of an inspiring panorama, considering that the artist of today no longer lives “At the same time of contemplation”.

→ REPORTAGE. Gardens of paradise in Chaumont-sur-Loire

In this society of frantic speed and the omnipresence of screens which encourage, in a reflex that has become universal, to film to watch next », he treats landscapes in a different way, scrolling through snowy forests or bushy paths, through the window of a car or train, increasing the emotional and nostalgic power of his original pictorial proposals. The common feature, at bottom, of all of his work, as dense as it is profuse.


His inspiration: contemporary figurative painters

In the early 1990s, Philippe Cognée was unhappy in Rome, in residence at the Villa Medici where ” work (him) seemed a little artificial ”. He begins to be interested in contemporary figurative painters such as the German Gerhard Richter and the French Gérard Gasiorowski, “For their rebellious side but also because they integrated the world around them into their work”.

Later, the seaside landscapes of Malcolm Morley and the approach of Italian artist Francesco Clemente, proclaiming in an art magazine “No longer want to get tired of looking for a subject while everything was around it”, have opened a way for him to flourish: “I was looking for such a sentence. It justified the state in which I wanted to be. “


“Champs-Élysées, history and perspectives”, the fields of possibilities

In the photos, the Champs-Élysées gardens are deserted. No wonder in this period of confinement. Except that the photos of the Pavillon de l’Arsenal exhibition devoted to the famous avenue were taken well before this strange spring … With its 24 hectares, the green spaces of the Champs-Élysées are three times larger than the Parc Monceau but attracts thirteen times less audience!

→ DOSSIER. Culture at the show: our selection by confinement time

It must be said that “the most beautiful avenue in the world” has lost this status in the eyes of Parisians. Only 5% of the passers-by who come to stroll there live in the capital, the axis being mainly frequented by tourists and … cars! This was not always the case on this royal road imagined by Le Nôtre in 1664. Extension of the central alley of the Tuileries garden beyond the fortified enclosure, it symbolizes the domination of the monarchical power of Louis XIV over the whole kingdom.

Today it remains a high place for the legitimization of power with its military parades and presidential enthronement conveyed, but also for its protest, from sans-culottes to yellow vests …

Evils of Modernity

It also reflects a vision of progress which sees nature, fields and marshes in this case, being domesticated by man. A design that comes to confirm the successive arrangements of Jacques Ignace Hittorff and Adolphe Alphand in the XIXe century. Caught up in the evils of modernity, the Champs-Élysées must reinvent itself to find the favors of Parisians.

The architect Philippe Chiambaretta, author of the study carried out for the Champs-Élysées Committee, an association bringing together the economic players on the avenue, makes here a number of proposals to reduce the inconvenience caused in particular by atmospheric and noise pollution: reduction two-lane instead of four currently, creation of bicycle paths and playgrounds, silent floor covering, electrification of the car fleet, and pedestrianization of Place de la Concorde.

Moving a little quickly on the hyperinflation of land, the architect, who advocates partnerships with the private sector to finance his development ideas, may forget that a neighborhood also lives because it is inhabited. It is still necessary to have the means…


Mirror artist Michelangelo Pistoletto, a 86-year-old Covid survivor

PORTRAIT – This Arte povera figure even gave an interview from his hospital bed in Biella, his hometown in Piedmont. Utopia always nailed to the body.

Michelangelo Pistoletto, a figure of Arte povera, is the patriarch of the Cittadellarte he founded in Biella, his hometown of Piedmont.
Michelangelo Pistoletto, a figure of Arte povera, is the patriarch of the Cittadellarte he founded in Biella, his hometown of Piedmont. Courtesy Gallery Continue

Who met Michelangelo Pistoletto, 87 on June 25, remains struck by the commanding force emanating from this Italian patriarch, one of the last great figures in the current of “Arte povera” (Poor Art).

Until recently, this handsome man with a medal profile, blue eyes, gentle Italian elegance, assertive speech and no sharing, was skiing in his mountains in northern Italy. The “Maestro” is currently being cared for at the Hospital in his hometown of Biella where, at the age of 86, he survived the coronavirus. A miracle.

The Cittadellarte Journal interviewed him, exclusively, from his hospital bed where his verve as a committed speaker and utopian remained intact. “The role of art in this pandemic is sensitivityHe thus said to his countrymen and to all the peoples of art.

Social renaissance after coronavirus

The artist highlights his personal experience and wonders how a social renaissance can emerge after the Coronavirus. What, according to him, is the key

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Magic, circus, virtual exhibitions … All of La Villette at home

Protect artists and keep the relationship they can have with their audience. This is the axis along which Didier Fusilier, patron of the public establishment of La Villette, designed with his teams the containment program. So he first ordered capsules for them.

Thierry Collet, a magician permanently installed at the Magic Wip, reveals a magic trick every Tuesday. He sometimes passes the ball to his accomplice Frédéric Ferrer. No need to panic: the kitchen equipment is enough. On Wednesday, children’s day, we go to Little Villette: we learn to make a table football in a box of matches, to tinker with a kite. On Thursday, students of art schools who were to present their works in the 100% expo do so virtually. On Friday, the park’s gardeners and wardens, who have stayed behind, post visual and sound vignettes of the deserted place: spring bloom and the roar of birds who no longer have to contend with the rumor of the ring road.

At weekends, make way for the show! The programmed artists put on their show on the Facebook page of La Villette: in the circus, Les 7 Doigts de la Main give Sequence 8. Cth weekend, Cris Blanco performs Bad translation May 2nd, Mourad Merzouki dances his extraordinary Correria Agwa on May 9 and 16, Delavallet Bidiefono sign Monsters / We don’t dance for nothing.

Bringing the public back to public spaces

Lonely surfers can also dive into the digital content entrusted to them by major French museums and public establishments (paintings, sculptures, dance, music) and by the very closed club of royal residences in the Micro Folies collection. And tap into the other offers on the Villette site: humorous conferences, Bollywood dance lessons, etc.

We are a park, not a theater or a museum even if we also practice entertainment and exhibition activities. No doubt we will have special possibilities to play at the time of deconfinement“Says Didier Fusilier, who points out that in Germany and Austria, parks were the first deconfigured places. And to dream of the future, with new proposals, closer to the artists.

I would like to transform the Great Hall into a place where artists, such as Bartabas, will settle and create as they go, he adds. Their work will be relayed online, from morning to evening, and we can connect to see where they are, or even, if the deconfinement allows, go see on the spot. The idea is of course to bring the public back to public spaces, as close as possible to the artists. Certain visual artists could thus be invited to create in the park. And artists who would like to can do interventions in schools or high schools.

Fusilier also plans for the open air film festival which takes place every summer to install small fun spheres where one would settle down to watch films as in a drive-in.

Some links

-The Villette at home:
-Have fun with Little Villette:
-Learn how to dance like in Bollywood:
– YouTube channel La Villette:
-100% The exhibition / School trips:


Headphones, fitness elastic, yogurt maker … Mucem de Marseille wants to create a containment museum

Closed since March 13, the establishment calls for contributions and invites everyone to send their proposals by email. “Of objects or documents which symbolize, embody, translate your confined daily life”. The objects collected will be used to keep track of this exceptional situation.

If the proposal is accepted, the team will return to the owner of the object at the end of the confinement in order to organize his arrival at the museum.
If the proposal is accepted, the team will return to the owner of the object at the end of the confinement in order to organize his arrival at the museum. ANDBZ / ABACA

Your home may be home to historical evidence of the current era … To complete its archives, the Mucem, Museum of Civilizations of Europe and the Mediterranean in Marseille, yesterday launched a call for contributions around objects from the confinement.

The Covid-19 pandemic has indeed plunged many countries in the last few months into a completely new situation. Social distancing, confinement, teleworking and home courses: for many, these are habits and daily life that have been completely disrupted.

Create a containment museum

So, what will be the objects that will have marked this period in the future collective memory of the French? A fitness elastic? Headphones for teleconferencing? A yogurt maker? Closed since March 13 after the measures put in place by the government, the Mucem invites everyone to participate by helping it to collect traces of this confinement.

This may be “Objects or documents which for you, symbolize, embody, translate your confined daily life”, explains the Marseille establishment on his website. To participate, simply send one or more photographs of the object and a short text to explain the context of its use and justify its entry into the future catalog of the exhibition. Proposals should be sent by email to

The collection will end on May 31, 2020. The museum indicates that all the proposals received will be studied by the conservation team. If the object is retained, the team will return to its owner at the end of confinement in order to organize his arrival at the museum.

The Vosges archives had the idea of collect testimonies from the inhabitants of the department, in order to “archive for eternity “. In a press release published on March 19, the executive of the departmental council invites each Vosgien to participate: “Anyone can send their testimony (s) to the departmental archives and can thus tell their daily lives: how each person changes their lifestyle, how to successfully comply with state directives, how to do school at home, how telecommute … “ The testimonials are to be sent to in writing, audio or video.


Choose your cinema from the catalog

Confinement obliges, the Cinémathèque française and the Forum of the images, in Paris, leave rarities and curiosities of their collections And make them available on Internet.

A silent film restored by the Cinémathèque, “The Fall of the Usher House” was seen by 25,000 people in eight days.
A silent film restored by the Cinémathèque, “The Fall of the Usher House” was seen by 25,000 people in eight days. The French Cinematheque

Eager to keep in touch with their audience, the Cinémathèque française (12e) and the Forum des images, in the heart of Les Halles, hear the“to accompany” during containment. The first has just launched a free space on the site, baptized Henri, in homage to Henri Langlois, its founder, pioneer in the conservation of cinematographic works. The second for its part, since the place closed for work before reopening in 2008, gives access to various formats.

I completely assume the elitist side. The minority has the right to exist. Just because people don’t know the movies doesn’t mean they won’t enjoy them

Frédéric Bonnaud, director of the Cinémathèque

“We design online and indoor programming all year round, but it is true that on the internet, it takes on a particular dimension at the moment, observes the program director of the Forum des images, Fabien Gaffez. We offer more critical and playful equipment, such as film lessons and meetings, recently with Paul Schrader and Melvil Poupaud, than films. ”

Films and confined people have the opportunity to watch or discover them every evening at 8:30 p.m. on Henri. The fall

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Check out Damien Hirst’s self-interview on Instagram

Between April 11 and 14, Damien hirst held the show in its own way, direct, corrosive, funny, inflated, once again anticipating the news, upsetting habits. From that Psychiatrist’s Couch is a self-interview on his Instagram which has 680,000 subscribers.

The king of the contemporary British scene has stood in front of his computer screen and calmly answers his “fans” who ask him 98 questions. Frequently admiring, rarely vacant or basely material questions about the recent dismissal of part of his teams, almost always questions from fans. Little aggression on their part, no annoyance on his part. The questions are read in full, the Instagram account of their authors is displayed at the same time. Damien Hirst’s answers burst out, at his usual machine gun rate.

This brilliant exercise in communication is played – in English – in four chapters. Four videos with a single character, from 10 to 14 minutes, whose audience exploded first (154,000 views, 535 comments, for chapter 1), before decreasing (72,254 views and 258 comments for chapter 2) for stay around an honorable cruising speed (46,874 and 40,342 views for chapters 3 and 4).

The paint shop where Damien Hirst’s return has been preparing for months. VD / Le Figaro

This interview is above all an invitation to Damien Hirst’s workshop. Or rather in one of his workshops, on the London Walk near Hammersmith. Covered in fresh stains, from sneakers to T-shirt, this is where he received Le Figaro last November to present his unexpected return to impressionism but with a very contemporary engine that still resembles the father of “Spot Paintings”. He looked radiant like a student at the Beaux-Arts. Rich “wonder boy” of the YBA generation (Young British Artist), he changed course at 54 and launched into painting, almost on his own.

Warholian celebrity fractions

Today, looking more tired, but still lively, Damien Hirst takes control again. The world, confined, lives outside through its computer screens. So this is where this strategist is posted, both close and despite everything inaccessible, then he reads one by one and, no doubt, chooses the questions to which he will answer. All its invisible interlocutors thus have their Warholian celebrity fractions. There is a great intelligence in this artist who has managed to divert the boom of the contemporary art market to his advantage, to avoid that his avant-garde talent enriches only the others, to make sure that always the news treats him like rock star, phenomenon or king.

Question 1 refers to one of his pieces of bravery: “How many diamonds in the Diamond Skull? Are they authentic?“(For the Love of God is a sculpture by Damien Hirst made in 2007, the platinum molding of an 18th century skull encrusted with diamonds, editor’s note). “There are 8621 diamonds, all of very good quality“, Replies the artist. What relationship does he have with cinema? “Dead Ringers ((False pretenses, 1988) by the Canadian filmmaker David Cronenberg gave me the idea of ​​my Medicine Cabinets, especially the surgical objects invented by the doctor played by Jeremy Irons ”. Is boredom the friend of creativity? “Probably yes. But inaction is his enemy. Boredom is something else. As soon as I get bored, I’m full of ideas ”.

Damien Hirst in his studio (details). It really is like that, we can attest! Damien Hirst in the studio, 2019 © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2020Damien Hirst, Renewal Blossom, 2018. Photographed by Prudence Cuming Associates. © Damien Hirst and Science Ltd. All rights reserved, DACS 2020Damien Hirst,

The interview sometimes slips into the exercise of improbable style. “If you were your own shrink, what question would you ask yourself?”. A slight emptiness, then a single word in the form of a gag: “WHY ????Laughs. What advice would he give to a young artist? “Make larger pictures, to have this distance, this look. Believe in. Everything is a question of self-confidence, of faith. If you believe in yourself, it makes others believe in you. Never pretend to know something, if you don’t know it. It always shows “. All Damien Hirst is in this answer, in this raw formula of “Working class hero”, as honest as sincere, who drew, poor child, on the back of the envelopes.

The naked body as a clown

It takes anecdotes to dress a legend. These four videos are full of them. “What surprises people the most about you?” “I don’t drink, more alcohol, it often disappoints a lot of people”, replies the ex Bad Boy from London’s red light districts. We always prefer bad boys. He tells of his friendship for Leigh Bowery, Australian performer of London nights, died of AIDS on December 31, 1994 at 33 years old – “God bless him!”– of which Lucian Freud painted the powerful body. And how, with him, he painted his naked body like a clown, sex included “Spot painting” blue (The Spot paintings form one of his most famous series, Editor’s note).

He tells without pretense, in chapter 2, his friendship sketched with Alexander McQueen, the brilliant English fashion designer who committed suicide on February 11, 2010, at the age of 40 and to whom the Victoria & Albert Museum devoted the most extraordinary posthumous retrospective that was in the summer of 2015. “Yes, I was friends with Alexander McQueen. But when I met him, I was drinking like a hole, I was in coke like crazy, he was starting his career. Then he entered this coke and alcohol period. While I was out of it. So we missed it like that. A lovely guy, total sweetheart

The artist’s sofa in his painting studio. VD / Le Figaro

Because it is time for his return to painting, that it stains his T-shirt, his jeans, his sneakers, his shrink couch, he responds with pleasure to the technical questions of palette. “I like all the colors. I’ve had a problem with purple for a long time, I don’t know why. I love oil paint, more malleable, the colors are brighter ”said this fan ofRembrandt which he much prefers to Dalí.

the departure to the desert of Saint Jerome

He likes “The rainbows in the sky, not in the painting” So he didn’t. “Weird that these paintings (spring flowering, intended for the Cartier Foundation, note) go so well when the world is on fire. I don’t want to be forgotten, I don’t know why. But I’m not a fan of the cursed side of Van Gogh “, says Damien Hirst who, after his very turbulent young years, with all-out artistic choices,discovered minimalism at Goldsmith College London “.

“How much for the sofa?Asked a fetishist or a collector. “It is not for sale. Find one and drop some paint on it!” End of online auctions. At the Cartier Foundation in Paris, Damien Hirst was to reveal to the world, in mid-June, this series of very large formats invaded by pink spots. They combine the celebration of spring, the “Sakura” of the Japanese and their cherry blossoms, and his own return to the brush. After twenty years of studio work, it is, for this prolific artist and entrepreneur, almost the departure to the desert of Saint Jerome.

When will we see them? The exhibition “Damien Hirst, Cherry blossomsWas announced from June 14 to November 8. “We are in full discussions with Damien Hirst, but it is obvious, due to the confinement, then the progressive deconfinement, that his exhibition will be postponed, perhaps to the fall, or even to the next year “, confirms Hervé Chandès, director of Cartier Foundation.

Damien will decide shortly. In the meantime, we will extend the exhibition “Claudia Andujar” this summer. The deaths of two Yanomani Indians contaminated by whites, gold hunters and other adventurers, make it terribly current. All the questions posed by our contemporary world are already there, in this wonderful work carried out for over fifteen years by the great Brazilian artist Claudia Andujar. The artists sense the importance of things …