Home > Current events > Correspondances Gustave Courbet The Trout / Brice Marden Extremes Edward Steichen Balzac. Towards The Light, Midnight / Alain Kirili A Throw Of Dice Has Never Abolished Sculpture

Gustave Courbet The Trout / Brice Marden Extremes
Edward Steichen Balzac. Towards the Light, Midnight / Alain Kirili A throw of dice has never abolished sculpture


BRICE MARDEN (born 1938), Extremes, 2004-2005, oil on canvas,183 x 244 cm (2 panels) Artist's collection
© Brice Marden, Courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery, New York, © ADAGP, Paris, 2006



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A new confrontation between the masters of the past and the creators of the present

To demonstrate how art of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th centuries has inspired artists living in the 21st century, three times a year, the Musée d’Orsay offers two contemporary artists, one French and the other foreign, the opportunity to present one of their works in relation to a work of art they chose themselves in the museum, in order to confront the two.


Brice Marden is an American artist born in 1938 who lives and works in New York. He chose Gustave Courbet’s La Truite -The Trout (1873). It is emblematic of the last part of his life and reflects the detention the artist experienced at the prison of Sainte-Pélagie and its consequences on his later creations. This work shows a deep renewal of the subject and of the form. The painting gives an impression of real anguish and through it Courbet goes far beyond the traditional theme of a fishing still life.
One is surprised by Brice Marden’s choice as we tend to see in him a tenant of minimalist and litterary abstraction. But Marden also drew inspiration by confronting works by Jasper Johns, Alberto Giacometti, Robert Rauschenberg, as well as Greek-Roman architecture and art discovered in Rome and Pompey. He progressively turned away from the monochrome wax polish he had so subtly used in the 70s, and followed the path of gestural abstraction. He thus gave a breath of fresh air to his paintings in which the movements of paint clearly took on their individuality.The canvas breaths and becomes a space where our glance can wander between the layers of matter, in a complex game of lines and cells.

Illustration BRICE MARDEN in front of Courbet's The Trout

A throw of dice has never abolished sculpture

Alain Kirili, born in 1946, lives between Paris and New York. Through exhibitions and conferences he has paid homage to the artists who “accompany” his own itinerary : sculptors, David Smith, Alberto Giacometti, Julio Gonzalez, Pablo Gargallo, Medardo Rosso, as well as Henri Matisse, Barnett Newman, Louise Bourgeois. A special place is reserved for Rodin. As early as 1985, une exposition-dialogue was organized at the Rodin museum between the master’s works and Kirili’s. Once again the figure of Rodin is referred to in Edward Steichen’s (1879-1973) photographs, published in Camera Work in 1911, and dedicated to views of the sculpture of Balzac at Meudon.
Since the 1970s and up to the recent public commision Ascension, for the abby of Montmajour in 2002, Kirili’s art has clearly developed into a vertical and monumental statuary that encounters a sensitive referent here in Rodin’s masterpiece. A recent ensemble of five sculptures from the Segou and theTotems series is placed near the photoengravings taken from Camera Work. The upward movement proper to Kirili’s work underlines how « the renewal of verticality in (his) sculpture cannot be separated from the statuary , from music nor from dance ».

Illustration ALAIN KIRILI A throw of dice has never abolished sculpture 2005, painted forged iron, 274 x 400 x 310 cm © Patrice Schmidt, Paris, musée d'Orsay


Gustave Courbet/Brice Marden, English/French,160x240, paperback, 64 pages, copublication Musée d'Orsay/Argol, 13 euros.
Edward Steichen/Alain Kirili,English/French,160x240, paperback, 64 pages, copublication Musée d'Orsay/Argol, 13 euros