Interview by Gilbert Perlein

Interview by Gilbert Perlein

Gilbert Perlein is director of the Museum for Modern and Contemporary Art, MAMAC, Nice, Paris

" The reason that in a sense I took my lead from Arne Quinze was because I knew that his expertise lay in handling a dialogue with the city, the town and its architecture "

This interview was taken at the MAMAC on the 18th of april, 2013

The Museum of Modern Art & Contemporary Art, MAMAC, was inaugurated in 1990. Our organisation has an international dimension. We have worked a great deal on a movement which is very well-represented here in this region, and I shall return to this, namely, on New Realism. The New Realism artists worked from the outset with American artists working in assemblage art, such as Rauschenberg – key players in the New Realism movement have worked here in Nice. We should of course mention Yves Klein, Arman, Martial Raysse, César… So in a sense you could say that Nice was the cradle for the work of a very significant number of proponents of this New Realism. They have lived and worked here, and that obviously provides us with an extraordinary opportunity. In short, this region is particularly rich in this type of artist. 

Throughout the entire 20th century, there were great figures like Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, Renoir and Hartung who came to settle in the region. They all said that they had come for the quality of light, the climate, and the right conditions in which to do their kind of work. Then, after these major artists, there was an entire young generation who continued to work and live in this region, which means that the Côte d'Azur today is the leading region in France for artworks including in the field of contemporary art. Conditions are genuinely favourable to the production of high-quality artistic work in this region. There is one thing about this museum which gives it an enormous advantage: it is in the town centre. The fact that it is in the heart of the city means that people spontaneously happen upon this museum when they move around town. Now, the important thing is that with the forecourt and Yves Klein Square and with activities organised from time to time, people feel attracted to coming into the museum. That means that every time that we have "urban" art associated with the museum, and in its periphery, there is a link with the town, a natural link which means that the public in the vicinity say to themselves: "Hang on, what essentially is inside this building?" 

In our conversations with Arne Quinze, and I will return to that, the question that immediately arose was: "How best to occupy this space?" And the reason that in a sense I took my lead from him was because I knew that his expertise lay in handling a dialogue with the city, the town and its architecture. That is really his core profession – it is what he really knows how to do best. There is – and we were talking about a Franco-American programme – a major, a key artwork on this forecourt, which has been here for 22 years. It is a large stabile-mobile by Alexander Calder, a cornerstone of the collection and also a lookout, an invitation to come in. It welcomes the public and so I suggested to Arne that he worked on a homage to that particular piece which is still on the forecourt. So he adapted his structure to make it embrace, surround and intertwine with Calder's sculpture. (...)

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