Premises: Invested Spaces

Premises: Invested Spaces in Visuals Arts, Architecture and Design from France, 1958-98


Exhibition Explores Forty Years of French Art and Architecture, Including Works by Christian Boltanski, Yves Klein, Le Corbusier, Annette Messager, and Jean Nouvel

Press Preview: Tuesday, October 13, 1998, 10 am to 2 pm
Guggenheim Museum SoHo, 575 Broadway (at Prince Street), New York City
Remarks will begin at 11:30 am

On exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo from October 14, 1998, through January 10, 1999, Premises explores forty years of French artistic and architectural practice, with an emphasis on the creative engagement of space.The works that have been selected for this exhibition underline the relationship between the artist/architect and the constructed environment. Using various artistic media including installation, film, video, DVD, photography, and architecture, the artists and architects in Premises explore the relationship between both physical and mental space. In addition to more familiar artists such as Christian Boltanksi, Yves Klein, and Annette Messager, and architects such as Le Corbusier and Jean Nouvel, Premises will introduce a younger generation including Absalon, Thomas Hirschhorn, and Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, who have not yet been widely received in the United States.

HUGO BOSS is the sponsor of this exhibition as part of its ongoing support of the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation.

"We are pleased to support the Premises exhibition," stated Joachim Vogt,Chairman and CEO of HUGO BOSS. "The French artistic force celebrated within the exhibition resonates well beyond Europe and has always served as aninspiration to the creative world. This is the twelfth major Guggenheimexhibition that HUGO BOSS has supported over the last four years, amongmany other projects HUGO BOSS and the museum have collaborated on."

DVD production and integration is provided by Zuma Digital.

Transportation assistance is provided by Air France.

This exhibition is supported by the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs through the Association Fran?aise d'Action Artistique and the Cultural Services of the French Embassy, New York.

Additional support is provided by Etant donn?s, The French-American Fund for Contemporary Art, New York.

Additional support is provided by The Florence Gould Foundation and Fondation Cartier pour l'Art Contemporain.

Occupying three floors of the Guggenheim Museum SoHo, including previously unused below-ground exhibition space, Premises will present the domains of the visual arts and architecture as two distinct, yet interrelated disciplines. By disregarding traditional hierarchies associated with architecture and art, the exhibition offers an opportunity to explore the ambiguities inherent in interdisciplinary approaches to artistic production.

In addition to the works on display at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo, the exhibition will feature three works presented at other locations around Manhattan. These are Untitled, in situ (1998), a multimedia installation by Claude L?v?que, on view at Storefront for Art and Architecture, 97 Kenmare Street (at Cleveland Place); Le Feu (1996), a multimedia installation by Xavier Veilhan, on view at agn?s b. homme, 79 Greene Street (at Spring Street); and La Dive Bacbuc (1998), a painting installation by G?rard Garouste, on view at French Cultural Services, 972 Fifth Avenue (at 79th Street). For viewing times, please contact the individual locations.

Both the architectural and visual arts sections of Premises are structured into five thematic chapters. Each chapter attempts to impose a narrative structure on the works of several generations of artists concerned with similar motifs. The installation begins with "Localities: Between Public and Private Space," which includes works of architectural scale testifying to several artists' preoccupation with the division between public and private spheres in contemporary society. The works in this section range from the utopian space of Robert Filliou's mobile version of his artist's studio, The Permanent Creation Toolshed (1969-1984), to the destroyed domestic interior of Arman's Conscious Vandalism (1975).

In the next section, "Sites of Memory," the exhibited artists create spaces that are defined by a deep sense of introspection, both in terms of personal and historical remembrance. Louise Bourgeois's autobiographical installation, Passage Dangereux (1997), and Chris Marker's La Jet?e (1962), a cinematic allegory of the impossibility of reconciling past and present, are emblematic works in this section, which is concerned with the intensity of the mental universe of certain artists and their attempts to deal with haunting questions in their artistic practice.

The third section, "Enclosures," brings together works that explore issues of confinement and restriction. Playing upon the psychological and physical constructions of the human condition, the works in this section are formally diverse. Jean-Marc Bustamante's Suspension I (Something is Missing) (1996), for instance, creates an existential metaphor through an installation comprising 11 steel bird cages, live birds, and bleak black-and-white photographs of prison-like urban landscapes.

Sites constructed by conventions of visual experience are examined in the fourth section, "Framing the Spatial: Between Voyeurism and the Cinematic." One such work is Sophie Calle's entitled The Hotel (1986), in which photo-panels and text recount the artist's invasive documentation of guests whose rooms she cleaned during temporary employment as a chambermaid in a Venetian hotel.

In the final chapter of the visual arts section, "Zones of Communication/Space of Exchange," a younger generation of artists investigates the redefinition and re-invention of the entire notion of space, as well as the nebulous systems engendered by the age of mass communication. The alluring environment created by Jean-Luc Vilmouth's Seduction Bar (1997), installed in the lobby of the Guggenheim Museum SoHo, epitomizes the ambition of the artists in this section to question the ambiguous status of various social spaces, both "real" and "virtual," in contemporary society.

Like the works in the visual arts portion, the architectural works have been organized within a distinct thematic structure. The architecture section attempts to synthesize the opposition between those who engage in formalist architecture practices and those who give primacy to notions of interrelation, action, and conceptual devices. The opposition explored in the first section, "Form versus Relation," sets the highly sculptural quality of Le Corbusier's later work against the utopian architectures proposed by the members of Team 10 and Yona Friedman, who work towards an architecture without form.

The issue of social housing is addressed in the second section, "Elevating the Conditions of Living." This section presents work that is rooted in the French tradition of architects engaging socio-political issues, sometimes in direct opposition to the formalist preoccupations of other contemporary architects. This so-called "utopia of the real" seeks to ameliorate the daily conditions of existence, and is at odds with the post-modern tendencies in some contemporary French architecture.

Using as a point of departure the early work of Marcel Lods and Jean Prouv?, "The Fabrication of Architecture" is concerned with the traditional theme of construction. In bringing fabrication of the edifice closer to the world of objects, architects such as Jean Nouvel bring an almost craftsman-like approach to architectural practice. At the same time, the works in this section are highly representative of the current engagement with image culture.

In the section "Fragmentation versus Containment," the fragmenting of form as practiced by Christian de Portzamparc and Fr?d?ric Borel is opposed to the work of their contemporaries whose strategies obey the logic of containment. Large structures such as industrial hangers are especially relevant here because of their ability to accommodate a multiplicity of activities.

The last section, "Devices: Architecture as Mechanism," takes into account the distinction between an architecture that is justified by its own presence, and a type of architecture that is defined by the effects or activities that it engenders. The Maison du Peuple de Clichy, designed by Marcel Lods and Jean Prouv?, is the departure point for this section; its approach is reflected in such recent projects as Bernard Tschumi's Le Fresnoy National Studio for Contemporary Art and Rem Koolhaas's Residence in Bordeaux.

Working in counterpoint to the larger structure of the exhibition, two concise sequences have been inserted at strategic points in the galleries. At the entrance to the show, a selection of twenty-two images from the photographic mission DATAR (D?l?gation l'Am?nagement du Territoire et l'Action R?gionale) serves as a prologue to the exhibition. These photographs were commissioned by the state during the 1980s to document urban, suburban, and rural sites across France.

A second room-sized gallery section, placed between the rooms depicting the social housing projects of Le Corbusier and the collective AUA (Atelier d'Urbanisme et d'Architecture) and the visual arts installations dealing with public and private space, is dedicated to Guy Debord and the Situationist International (SI). Drawing together links between architectural practice, urbanism, and the radical politics of the SI, the selection of printed materials, photographs, political posters, and architectural models in this section concentrates on the SI's ambition to radically reconstruct the lived environment.

Integrated in the exhibition galleries, there will be four single-channel video viewing rooms that will house an on-demand server with videotapes that have been chosen for their correspondence to the thematic sequences of the exhibition. The selection will include documentaries, music videos, contemporary dance videos, and television commercials, as well as artists' videotapes. Among the pieces chosen for the Premises video program are works by Dominique Cabrera, Gilles Deleuze, Robert Filliou, Armand Gatti, Jean-Luc Godard, and Chris Marker, as well as works by established contemporary artists such as Alain Bublex, Claude Closky, Marie Legros, and Pierrick Sorin.

As an epilogue to the entire exhibition, Premises focuses on the work of four prominent designers currently working in France: Sylvain Dubuisson, Martin Szekely, Philippe Starck, and Garouste & Bonetti. Each designer was asked to imagine an object or an environment that corresponds to the notion of "invested space;" each designer's propositions were realized in three-dimensional, animated images and will be projected on the Guggenheim Museum SoHo's videowall. These interventions open the exhibition to a general reflection on the relationship of design practice and everyday life.

Technical ResourcesIn keeping with the emphasis at the Guggenheim Museum SoHo on blending art and technology, Premises employs advanced DVD technology in its presentation of video-based work. This technology ensures that video images are seen in the highest-quality format. Premises represents one of the most extensive uses of DVD technology in a major exhibition. To make this presentation possible, the Guggenheim Museum SoHo partnered with both Zuma Digital, which offered mastering of source material, DVD production, and hardware integration, and Pioneer New Media Technologies, which offered DVD video players and video projection equipment and technical support.

Premises is the result of a unique collaboration between the curatorial staffs of the Guggenheim Museum and the Mus_e national d'art moderne at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. Bernard Blist?ne, Chief Curator and Director of the Contemporary Art Section at the Centre Pompidou, Alison Gingeras, Assistant Curator at the Guggenheim Museum, and Alain Guiheux, Chief Curator of Architecture at the Centre Pompidou, are the curators for this exhibition. Marie-Laure Jousset, Chief Curator of Design, and Raymond Guidot, Curator of Design at the Centre Pompidou, are collaborating on the realization of the design portion of Premises.

A 600-page catalogue, published by the Guggenheim Museum and distributed through Harry N. Abrams Inc., will accompany the exhibition. In addition to contributions by the exhibition curators, there will be critical essays by Joseph Abram, Universite de Strasbourg; Dudley Andrew, University of Iowa; Benjamin H.D. Buchloh, Columbia University; Denis Hollier, New York University; Sylv_re Lotringer, Columbia University; and David Rodowick, University of Rochester. The catalogue is being designed by J. Abbott Miller of Design/Writing/Research.

Public Programs
In conjunction with Premises, the Guggenheim Museum will present a wide-ranging program of activities for the public. These programs are presented under the auspices of The Sackler Center for Arts Education, a major facility for the museum's education initiatives that supports programs throughout the museum. For more information on any of the following programs, please call the Museum Box Office at 212/423-3587. (See separate press release for Premises programs taking place in locations other than the Guggenheim Museum SoHo.)

A Curatorial Eye: Gallery Tour
On Friday, November 13, at 2 pm Alison Gingeras, Assistant Curator, will lead a tour in which she examines notions of site, territory, and location as manifested in Premises: Invested Spaces in Visuals Arts, Architecture & Design from France, 1958-98. The tour is limited to 30 people. Reservations are taken at the information desk one hour prior to the start of the program. Assistive Listening Devices (ALDs) are available and have been made possible through public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts. Support has also been provided by a generous grant from The Sprint Foundation.

Programs for Families
On Fridays, October 23, November 20, and January 15 from 11 am to noon, children ages 3 to 5, together with their adult friends, can participate in SoHo Tots and explore selected themes in Premises: Invested Spaces in Visual Arts, Architecture and Design from France, 1958-98. Activities include storytellings and fun, simple hands-on art projects. The fee is $10 per child ($5 for members). Preregistration is required, please call (212) 423-3587.

September 28, 1998


Director of Public Affairs

Guggenheim Museum

Telephone: 212/423-3840

Telefax: 212/423-3787


Press images

Press Images

Download high resolution, press-approved images.

contact us

Have a media inquiry? Contact us for more information.