The World As It Goes


Text by Francesca Fontanesi

A dizzying spiral where images are generated to converse with each other like in a kaleidoscope, producing portraits and reinterpretations of a faltering identity.

Le monde comme il va (The World As It Goes)
March 20–September 2, 2024
Bourse de Commerce, Paris



The ghosts of the past seem to resurface as a warning in the works of Maurizio Cattelan, Cindy Sherman, Luc Tuymans, and Sun Yuan & Peng Yu. The works of Anne Imhof, Doris Salcedo, Wolfgang Tillmans, Rosemarie Trockel, Christopher Wool, and others react to the crisis of utopias in our contemporary world, staging them and becoming receptacles of a silent rage that art expresses and transfigures. Paintings “Huis clos”, conflagrations, domestic upheavals, double images, portraits of faltering identities, reinterpretations, and retakes are the subject of works by Peter Doig, Marlene Dumas, Martin Kippenberger, Sturtevant, Frank Walter, and Franz West.

La Bourse de Commerce with Le Monde Comme Il Va presents several new works from the collection of François Pinault, bringing together works mainly from the 1980s to the present. The exhibition reveals the acute awareness of the present expressed by artists such as Maurizio Cattelan, Wolfgang Tillmans, Damien Hirst, Anne Imhof, and Peter Fischli. The exhibition alludes to the turmoil and turbulence of current events, where all stable reference points seem to waver and slip away: the title comes from a philosophical tale by Voltaire in which an angel carries an envoy to observe the behaviors of a distant people, as the gods no longer know whether they deserve to live or should be destroyed to make way for a new and perhaps better civilization. Faced with the contradictions of humanity and its hesitation, the narrator eventually decides to let the world “go as it must go,” trusting that humans will take destiny into their own hands. The works from the Pinault Collection selected for this exhibition bear witness to a moment of uncertainty, but they also serve to engage visitors in the momentum of this dizzying spiral that continues to spin regardless of man. The profound awareness of the artists is demonstrated by the monumental and delicate work of Kimsooja installed in the Rotunda of the Museum: an immense mirror placed on the ground inverts the architecture and, with it, the order of the world. As we approach, we see the sky fall into the ground beneath our feet at the center of the Bourse de Commerce. The invisibility of the material, which simply reflects the surrounding reality, reminds us that we are the protagonists of this narrative.

Peter Doig, Pelican (Stag), 2003–2004, oil on canvas, 278.4 × 202.7 cm (with the frame). Pinault Collection. Photo: Mark Woods. © Peter Doig / ADAGP, Paris, 2024.
Sun Yuan & Peng Yu, Old Persons Home, 2007,13 life-sized sculptures and 13 electric wheelchairs, varying dimensions. Pinault Collection. Courtesy of the artists and of Galleria Continua. © Sun Yuan & Peng Yu / ADAGP, Paris, 2024.
Bertrand Lavier, Dino, 1993, Wrecked Ferrari Dino 308 GT4, 130 × 420 × 180 cm. Pinault Collection. Courtesy of the artist. Photo: Rebecca Fanuele. © Bertrand Lavier / ADAGP, Paris, 2024.

On the foreground emerges an overview: Fischli & Weiss exhibit a part of their vast enterprise involving the clay modeling of a (necessarily partial) history of humanity (Suddenly this Overview, 1981-2012). In the ground floor and second floor galleries, the selection of works from the Pinault Collection shows how contemporary artists, who work both in the wake of the avant-garde and in the spirit of their time, often employ strategies of provocation, subversion, and infiltration to work against traditional values and to cast a general veil of doubt on our definitions of art. The works of Maurizio Cattelan, Damien Hirst, and Jeff Koons, early icons of the Pinault Collection, reveal their complexity once relocated in a context of the circulation of images, objects, and values that marks the history of art in the 1980s and 1990s. Moreover, they attack the mechanisms underlying various structures of power – political, institutional, or otherwise – and formulate a commentary more bitter than it may seem on the society in which these works were produced. François Pinault’s collecting choices have always reflected his passion for an art in tune with his time, whether socially engaged or simply observational, provocative, or darker. Faced with the excesses and paradoxes of our society and our world, as well as the challenges of our time, artists are sometimes prophetic and visionary, other times philosophical. Sometimes they are cynical and ironic, often they are poetic and enchanting. It’s the flow of images that are carried by the movements of the world, their ability to reflect reality or, on the contrary, to create a mise en abyme around it, to resonate in empathy or irony with the past and present that have fueled the Pinault Collection over the last fifty years.

“Firstly, there are the masterpieces, those very special creations that, while embodying a unique and powerful moment in art history, resist the erosion of time, scrutiny, and critique. Secondly, there are the currents of strength that converge within a collection as it attains a certain status.”

– François Pinault

Kimsooja, A Needle Woman, 1999–2000, video installation with 4 video projections filmed and produced in Tokyo, Shanghai, Delhi, and New York, 6 min. 30 sec. each. Pinault Collection. Courtesy of the Kimsooja studio. © Kimsooja / ADAGP, Paris, 2024.

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