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

The statues also die

The Daniel Cordier collection
From 8 November 2018 to 29 August 2021
les Abattoirs
Collections Daniel Cordier. Donation au Mnam-CCi, dépôt aux Abattoirs © photogr. Sylvie Leonard

This exhibition aims to show the link between the documentary film The statues also die and the collection Daniel Cordier, in deposit to les Abattoirs since the opening in the year 2000.

Les statues meurent aussi is a French documentary co-directed by Alain Resnais and Chris Marker in 1953. It was a commission from the Présence Africaine collective, who wanted a film about so-called “negro” art since the turn of the century. The documentary questions the fact that African art was presented in the collections of the Musée de l’Homme as ethnographic objects while Greek art was  presented within the temple of the arts, at the Musée du Louvre.

In this period of the early fifties and in the context of the decolonisation struggles (the Indochina War, the Algerian War) it was still unthinkable to consider that African peoples could create art in the Western sense of the term. Resnais and Marker’s film, infused with anticolonial meaning, suffered ten years of censorship.

By starting this collection in the fifties, then combining art forms of all origins, Daniel Cordier departs radically from colonial thinking and joins the rally call of the surrealists who, in the inter-war period, had launched a boycott of the colonial expo and organised a counter-exhibition to the 1931 colonial exposition. It is this humanist desire that we find in Daniel Cordier’s work in this presentation, echoing the title of this seminal film.