It is not often that you see an exhibition signed by five curators. And even more rarely it happens that in the same exhibition the same work is present several times, albeit set up in rooms and with different contextualizations. A brilliant and very original idea proposed this year in Venice by the Pinault Collection of Palazzo Grassi-Punta della Dogana to tell the art of the great French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. An unprecedented themed story, if by theme we mean not so much the subject of the story as the particular vision of this artist’s work by as many important artists.
Here is the Henri Cartier-Bresson exhibition. Le Grand Jeu, a great game showcases Cartier-Bresson and his art. The collector Francois Pinault himself, along with the photographer Annie Leibovitz, the writer Javier Cercas, the film director Wim Wenders and the conservative Sylvie Aubenas, revolve around his extraordinary production. These five exceptional curators, according to the rules of the game, were invited to select about fifty images of the artist. And this selection was limited to the shots that Henri Cartier-Bresson himself had chosen for his Master Collection. This is why in this exhibition the French artist is the protagonist but in a certain sense also a selector.
Five exceptional curators for the exhibition dedicated to Henri Cartier-Bresson
The Master Collection was created in 1973 by Cartier-Bresson at the invitation of two collector friends, Dominique and John de Menil. It was the photographer himself who chose the 385 images he considered best from his contact prints.
Of this precious nucleus of Cartier-Bresson’s work there are only six examples, kept respectively at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, the University of Fine Arts in Osaka, the Bibliothèque nationale de France, the Menil Foundation in Houston, but also at the Pinault Collection and of course at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. The exhibition “Henri Cartier-Bresson. Le Grand Jeu is co-organized with two of these institutions, the Bibliothèque nationale de France and in collaboration with the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. The images proposed by the exhibition flow almost in a game of mirrors, to which a further element of the game is added. Because no co-curator had to be aware of the choices of others.
Everyone freely decided on the scenography, the colors of the walls, the frames. In this polyphony of contexts, some shots are repeated from corner to corner of Palazzo Grassi. A game of references that reveals many meanings and many interpretations, revealing the different eye of the collector, the photographer, the writer, the director, the curator. In a certain sense, each of the curators communicates their own vision of Cartier-Bresson’s work but also their own history. Different sensitivities that propose different points of view. Extraordinary and particular exhibition in an equally (for completely different reasons) particular year. Inaugurated with great delay and with all the limitations imposed by these difficult times, it will remain open until March 20, 2021.
Youssef Nabil and photos of his Egypt, at Punta della Dogana Untitled 2020
We cannot fail to mention the shots of Once Upon a Dream curated by Matthieu Humery and Jean-Jacques Aillagon (until March 20, 2021). Beautiful monographic exhibition – hosted on the second floor of Palazzo Grassi – dedicated to the artist Youssef Nabil (Cairo, 1972) and his Egypt. Photographs made with the traditional Egyptian technique widely used for family photographic portraits and for movie posters that populated the streets of Cairo.
The extraordinary headquarters of Punta della Dogana (the second Venetian home of the Pinault Collection) hosts this year Untitled 2020, three glimpses of today’s art. A selection of works by over 60 artists from the Pinault Collection and from international museums and private collections (including the Venetian Ligabue) for an unpublished exhibition project, created ad hoc for these spaces. The exhibition is curated by Caroline Bourgeois, Muna El Fituri and the artist Thomas Houseago who has made available to visitors his library in Tadao Ando’s cube room. It will be open until 13 December 2020.
Finally, a preview. The Punta della Dogana headquarters, from 21 March 2021 to 9 January 2022, will host an exhibition dedicated to Bruce Nauman (1941, Indiana, USA), one of the most significant figures in contemporary art. Bruce Nauman. Contrapposto Studies will present the artist’s most recent production at Punta della Dogana. In particular, the series of video works made in the last five years.
The three exhibitions currently in progress will be open on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday from 10am to 7pm. Last entry at 6pm.
Ph credits: Fondation Henry Cartier Bresson/Magnum Photo – Palazzo Grassi, photography Marco Cappelletti – Courtesy of the Artist/Pinault Collection