When college students choose the works purchased by the City of Paris

The visual artist Pierre Ardouvin does not know what he owes to Ilyan and Mohammed! If his painting “Brain Damage” will enter the collections of the contemporary art fund of the city of Paris, it is thanks to these two students from the Evariste-Gallois college (13th century) who were able to find the words to present and defend this 2016 work before the jury of the “Young collectors” commission, which met this Friday morning at the Hôtel de Ville.

After presenting the artist known for “staging everyday objects and his kitsch aesthetic”, Mohammed observes that “the calligraphy of the A in Brain can make one think of the Eiffel Tower”. Questioned by the jury, Ilyan explains why he was touched by this painting which takes up the title of a Pink Floyd song: “The green that emerges from the letters forming the words Brain Damage, it makes you think of mould. It is hyper-representative of the current situation, with the war in Ukraine and the Covid-19 from which we are emerging. »

Exhibited in nurseries, schools and other nursing homes

Unknown to the general public, the contemporary art fund of the city of Paris, created in 1816, has 23,000 works, including 3,500 of contemporary art. “Our mission is to disseminate this heritage and therefore to exhibit it in nurseries, schools, colleges and high schools but also in emergency accommodation centres, nursing homes, libraries…” explains Julie Gandini, heritage curator responsible of the fund, which has an annual acquisition budget of €160,000.

Launched in 2020, the Young Collectors program should allow secondary school students to be involved in the choice of works to buy, “not too bulky, easily transportable and evoking themes of interest to young Parisians”, specifies Julie Gandini.

After having spent the year 2020-2021 discovering the world of contemporary art, the 3rd B students of the Evariste-Gallois college (13th century), bullied by their plastic art teacher, have been touring the Parisian galleries, just to see what interested them. Among the forty works initially selected, the 24 schoolchildren to whom the city’s contemporary art fund granted an acquisition budget of €4,300, chose to recommend the purchase of thirteen of them, each being defended by a pair.

Objective: to break down preconceptions

Composed of about fifteen members including Julie Gandini, Jean-Christophe Arcos, head of the visual arts office of the City of Paris, Christine Vidal, co-director of the Bal (exhibition space devoted to contemporary image in the 18th ), Mathieu Pitkevicht, head of the artistic education and training center at the Center Pompidou, the jury announced the results at noon. Eight works will be purchased by the contemporary art fund, the most affordable being displayed at €100. From next September, they will be exhibited at the documentation and information center (CDI) of the Evariste-Gallois college, classified as a REP (priority education network), where families can borrow them, according to the principle of the ephemeral art library. .

“Nothing replaces the frequentation of works over time”, underlines the professor of visual arts of the establishment, who believes that this initiative makes it possible to “bring down the a priori on contemporary art”. Two other Parisian colleges, La Grange aux belles (10th) and Robert-Doisneau (20th), have embarked on the Young Collectors program. Next spring, their students will in turn be responsible for choosing the works they want the City of Paris to acquire.

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When college students choose the works purchased by the City of Paris


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