Paintings, drawings, photographs, sculptures, installations and editions by modern artists such as Man Ray or Tamara de Lempicka, and contemporary figures including Jakuta Alikavazovic, Yto Barrada, Nina Beier and Marie Lund, Martin Boyce, Enrico David, Michael Dean, Ayan Farah, Lito S. Freeman, Bethan Huws, Pierre Huyghe, Sergej Jensen, Renaud Jerez, Sarah Lucas, Benoît Maire, Marlie Mul and Rosemarie Trockel, take over the former architectural practice, built in 1927 by Robert Mallet-Stevens and now the headquarters of the Fondation Hippocrène.
“Every building created by Robert Mallet-Stevens looks like one of his film sets, and the people in it are like actors. Like film sets, Mallet-Stevens‘ buildings proceed by indications (base, window, chimney, etc., defined simply, just enough to be recognisable) and act by suggestion, putting the onus on the beholder to recreate the totality using the fragments with which they are provided.” writes architectural historian Fernando Montes.
The practice – or studio – of Mallet-Stevens (1886-1945), founder of the Union des Artistes Modernes (1929), was built during the golden age of modernist architecture by one of the major architects of the day, on a par with Le Corbusier. However, Mallet-Stevens’ body of work began to fade soon after his death. Almost none of his constructions have survived: only traces remain. Most of his villas were left incomplete or were altered. The larger buildings were destroyed or denatured. It was only in 2005, with a retrospective exhibition at the Pompidou Centre, that his work began to enjoy greater public recognition.
This exhibition is articulated in relation to its context, and to the twofold figures of the architect and collector. To present a collection is implicitly to paint a portrait of the person who created it. This makes us think of a collection not in terms of a process of accumulation but as a fundamental dynamics of loss. To exhibit works in a Mallet-Stevens building is to inhabit a memory of architecture and the sets of silent films.
In addition to works from the David Roberts Collection, the exhibition will include special commissions from artists with a long relationship with DRAF. Benoît Maire has conceived an installation integrating his own work with that of other artists in the exhibition, while Nina Beier and Marie Lund are reactivating a performance previously given at DRAF in 2008. Renaud Jerez will present a new intervention in situ, on the ground, whereas Lito S. Freeman, for his first public exhibition, will show an assemblage of wood veneers painted with oil.
Le musée d’une nuit (script for leaving traces) is an exhibition which proposes an experience of loss. Notions of trace, conservation and ruin sustain a fiction in which artworks from the 1930s to the present play on a certain formal fragility, orchestrating an exhibition that reveals itself to its own remnant, staged within a space that itself exists as an echo of what it once was.