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French Connection
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Preface (p. 13)


French Connection was born from the idea to paint a portrait of the French artistic scene, which today is quite remarkable for its dynamism and invention. Not so long ago, French artists were criticised for their inability to find their place on the international scene. A report by the sociologist Alain Quimen, which was made public in 2001 confirmed this position and acted like a brick thrown into calm duck pond. Certain members of the artistic community reacted brusquely and the richness of the scene was soon to be shown through important exhibitions both here in France (Notre histoire at the Palais de Tokyo in 2006, La force de l'art at the Grand Palais in 2006 and in 2008, Airs de Paris at the Centre Pompidou in 2007, for example), as well as abroad (As part of the 2006 Berlin Biennial and French Kiss at the Moore Space in Miami in 2008). In parallel to this, the artists have become more and more mobile. Their work is now shown more and more often outside of France – notably in the USA, Britain and Germany – where they are also often represented. Certain artists, whose work was first shown in the 1990s have achieved true recognition on the other side of the Atlantic and without being part of a formal ‘school’ have encouraged younger artists to follow in their footsteps and draw the world's attention to the vibrant French scene. It is not entirely correct to speak of “the French scene”, because the reality is the existence of several scenes. They are not easy to precisely characterize; the artists sometimes work in collaboration but this has not generated a particular movement or even an artistic trend. In truth, the scene is recognizable through its heterogeneity and profusion of different styles. French Connection is not an exhaustive work; its aim is to be representative. It is a cross-section of an even richer territory.
In order to come up with this book, we played a game of connections.
We did not simply create a list of artists and commission texts on their work. We contacted a number of critics currently working in France (in magazines, newspapers and reviews), and asked them which artists they would like to write about and who in their opinion amongst today's artists represented the French scene in all its diversity. Most of the critics quickly came up with a shortlist. Taking care to ensure the widest and most open selection, we commissioned one text per writer. The choice of 88 artists was therefore the fruit of close collaboration between Blackjack Publications and the writers. Each artist was allocated eight pages. The artist's work is reproduced over six pages. This amount of space is of course limited, but it is preferable to caricaturing the artistic process with just one or two works. The first double page creates an atmosphere, while the remaining four pages act as a zoom on the different pieces of work. The choice of work to be shown was often made in collaboration with the artists themselves, and sometimes with the writers. The images printed are not the works themselves; they are simply avatars. The images are merely a nod towards the works reproduced. 88 critics have written about the work of 88 artists. The writing is often based around a collection of observations. It is simply a point of view. It accompanies the work by its side. French Connection does not aim to categorise, nor does it have the pretension of historically documenting today's work. French Connection is simply a witness to the dynamism of present-day artistic creativity.

Léa Gauthier – BlackJack éditions
 
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