How well do foreigners know French contemporary art? Not well at all, apparently, according to an interview with artist Gérard Garouste (Gérard Garouste: «Que les mécènes aient du courage!», July 3) in Le Figaro:
"French contemporary art is no longer a presence on the international scene." This pessimistic assessment relates both the discomfort and anger of a great artist who is aware that it is time to express himself. Gérard Garouste rarely speaks out. He has always preferred work and reflection, but he is not separated from the world. He observes and he asks questions. He follows the work of young artists. He searches. He likes to share. There is no bitterness in his statement, simply the certainty that it is his moral duty to speak the truth about a situation that the cultural powers that be, state-sponsored experts or dealers, prefer to ignore.The problem? An académisme, encouraged by the French government, that keeps avant-garde movements from flourishing. Does this sound familiar to anyone? You'll have to read the rest on your own (it's in French). I'm on vacation.