In an article (Les murs de l'éphémère [The walls of the ephemeral], August 17) for Le Figaro, Sophie Latil wrote from Nice about a new exhibit there that came from a really nifty idea. Twenty-one artists were given wall space in the Musée d'art moderne et d'art contemporain in Nice, not to exhibit their works but to paint:
The groundrules of the exhibit Intra-muros were simple: 1,200 square meters [12916.8 square feet] of wall in the museum's three rooms to be shared, with each artist contributing a temporary two-dimensional work, a monumental piece covering the entire height of the wall. When the exhibit is closed, only recorded documents will give any idea of what works were presented. [...]The artists involved are Giovanni Anselmo, John Armleder, Robert Barry, Jean-Charles Blais, Mel Bochner, Daniel Buren, Tony Cragg, Joseph Kosuth, Damien Hirst, Jannis Kounellis, Ange Leccia, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, François Morellet, Robert Morris, Giulio Paolini, Haim Steinbach, Niele Toroni, David Tremlett, Bernar Venet, and Lawrence Weiner (with links to images of the works I liked). Happily, there are images of most of the walls in the show. Even better, the Centre Régional de Documentation Pédagogique—Académie de Nice is hosting Les murs, un autre regard (The walls, another look), a Web site on the exhibit with lots more images of the artworks and of the artists creating them, and even some video.
The practice of appropriating mural surfaces for esthetic purposes goes back, after all, in recent art history to the start of the 1940s. "It's an almost specifically American practice that comes from abstract expressionism and the need for large surfaces in order to express the subject with energy," explains Gilbert Perlein. In 1947, Jackson Pollock, who had just completed Mural 1946 [sic] at the request of Peggy Guggenheim for the entryway of her home [now at the University of Iowa Museum of Art], wrote, "I think that the canvas painting is a form on its way out and that the modern tendency will be toward the mural painting."
Intra-muros will be on view at the Musée d'art moderne et d'art contemporain, in Nice, until November 14.
See also Philippe Jérôme, Quand l’artiste fait le mur (L'Humanité, August 31) and Annick Colonna-César, Le musée fait le mur (L'Express, September 6).