Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art in Toulouse, FRAC Midi-Pyrénées

The Contemporary collection

The Contemporary collection is made up of several bodies of work which intersect with the Modern collection, while offering new perspectives on art today.

Initially favouring artists from southern France, Italy and Spain, the regional holdings of contemporary art (FRAC Midi- Pyrénées) also reflect a critical approach to modernity with works from Robert Filliou, François Morellet, Ange Leccia, Bazile, Bustamante, Présence Panchounette and Gina Pane....

This collection was developed through a series of themes relevant to both the understanding of the aesthetic issues of contemporary art and its intellectual use at the turn of the 20th and 21st centuries. Four main themes traverse the works, they are as follows:

Beyond nature and culture.

The introduction of live or organic matter is a fairly recent phenomenon. It corresponds to a time in history when we began to question and reconsider our position in life through art.

An important issue in the movement (BioArt, process art...) is to go beyond the aesthetic concepts and ideals of “beauty” which were reinvented in Europe at the end of the18th century and reconsider those concepts’ dichotomy between man and the world.

As environmental or genetic mutations grow, so does an awareness of the harmful effects our behaviour has on life; this awareness draws attention to a crucial matter; the necessity for us to reconsider our relationship with the world and the very idea of nature.

In this ensemble, the works centre on the following concepts; the perishable (Michel Blazy), standardisatation (Didier Marcel), interaction and modulation (Max Mohr), and physical organicity (Franz West).

Their work questions “progress” as a whole as well as its role in art, the cycle of life, and evolution. It is also through works linked to The Chimera that this ensemble of works reflects the wavering rationalism of modern Western culture.

Finally, the question of housing, architecture, and the connection between the city and rural life in the context of a nature which has become more of an environment than a landscape is also addressed here.

Poetic economy

More than “poetry at the service of the surrealist revolution”, the “revolution at the service of poetry” as said by the Situationists, is a dynamic that has been feeding art since the 1960s. It’s art’s turn anew to change our perception and intelligence of what we already know, offering us a new reality.

Thus, it is through the works which directly address political factors (Tania Mouraud, Olivier Blanckart, Michel Aubry, Lida Abdul) or their media representations (Wang Du, Alain Declercq) that the collection forges close links with the issue of political commitment.

On a deeper level, the collection explores a mental dimension that has regained significant interest in Contemporary art. This can be seen through the upsurge in recent years of the representation of the brain or consciousness, both symbolically and figuratively. This phenomenon is at the origin of this collection-within-the-collection, which echoes the words of The Russian physicist Andrei Linde.

For him, if we were to become a kind of huge brain, our world and our perception would open up so that real consciousness and illusion would be totally intertwined.

(Accordingly, he said) “What if our perceptions are as real (or maybe, in a certain sense, are even more real) than material objects? What if my red, my blue, my pain, are really existing objects, not merely reflections of the really existing material world? Is it possible to introduce a "space of elements of consciousness," and investigate a possibility that consciousness may exist by itself, even in the absence of matter, just like gravitational waves, excitations of space, may exist in the absence of protons and electrons? Will it not turn out, with the further development of science, that the study of the universe and the study of consciousness will be inseparably linked, and that ultimate progress in the one will be impossible without progress in the other?"

Therefore, a cognitive function of mental representation, which is also at the origin of any artistic act, is above all a way of ensuring the coexistence of individuals and their worlds. That’s what stigmatises the ”externalised” brains by Jan Fabre, Evru, Claude Leveque, Mounir Fatmi, Guillaume Pinard, Bruno Peinado, or Peter Kogler.

The image and its diffusion

The transformation of the way images are shared and shown today, as well as their creation, imply the adaptation of art museums and cultural institutions in the field of visual arts. Are exhibitions like image schools? Should they produce their own texts just for their readers? Though a place to see art, les Abattoirs is also more fundamentally a place of critical challenge.

The strength of a collection resides in the preservation of "Originals” and shows what lies between the creation of the images and the viewing of the work once exhibited. The exhibition sparks a thought process on the production of visual knowledge (Photographic, cinematographic and other works) which is considered here by the means of questioning the role of an art museum.

Individual and collective narratives

As the way we deal with images has changed, so has the way in which we treat the written word, stories, sociology, and history. Sometimes dealing with language or writing (visual or literary), the works in question here are not only traversed by themes related to globalism, but also the upsurge in the field of visual arts of more experimental ways of storytelling.