Exhibition: Fri 27 Jan 2023 - Fri 10 Feb 2023
9 Avenue Matignon, 75008 Fragments of Collections by Raphaël Denis
Artist: Raphaël Denis
Christie's features the work of Raphaël Denis, who explores the question of looting of works of art that occurred in France during the Second World War.
Artist-researcher Raphaël Denis has been developing the present set of installations entitled La Loi normale des erreurs for almost ten years.
Assembled by families of objects in the manner of memorials, these conceptual installations of unprecedented visual force metamorphose each looted work of art into an object defined solely by the primary physical characteristics of the looted work it materialises.
Thanks to extensive prior documentary work, the artist constructs these objects around their typology, their dimensions and the inventory number associated with them, thus forming an extremely precise and meticulous echo of the fate that was reserved for each work they represent.
These Loi normale des erreurs then appear before us as the spectre of the looting they embody; stripped of their original composition or subject, of any painting, and stripped of their poetry by their lack of title other than their inventory number.
If the artist only uses materials of apparent simplicity - wood, fabric, ink - it is above all to reinforce the symbolic charge of these installations. The linen sheets, for example, are as much a reference to the linen canvas of the paintings as to the shrouds covering the sculptures.
As for the looted works on which the artist chose to focus, only portraits will be found. The fact that he focuses his work on works representing a human presence and ideally portraits - and thus excludes landscapes and still lifes from his field - is far from accidental; this choice only increases the immediate link that the viewer can make, by mental projection, between the looted work and the owner who was robbed during the war.
In addition to these installations, Christie's is honoured to exhibit a previously unseen work created by the artist for the occasion and paying tribute to René Gimpel, an interwar art dealer in France famous for his Journal d’un collectionneur.
While many collections and works of art are reincarnated before our eyes, it is only a derisory part of the looting that took place during the Occupation that is recounted here; the fragmentary nature of this ensemble reinforces the impossibility of finding everything, of “saving” everything.
This exhibition is the first in a series of Christie's events around the world in 2023, all dedicated to the field of restitution, to mark the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Washington Conference Principles on Nazi-Confiscated Art.
27 January, 10am – 6pm
28 January, 10am – 6pm
29 January, 2pm – 6pm
30 January, 10am – 6pm
31 January, 10am – 6pm
1 February, 10am – 6pm
2 February, 10am – 6pm
3 February, 10am – 6pm
4 & 5 February, closed
6 February, 10am – 6pm
7 February, 10am – 6pm
8 February, 10am – 6pm
9 February, 10am – 6pm
10 February, 10am – 6pm