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Under the direction of Xavier Barral and Philippe Séclier

PARIS – We are well aware that cars pollute, waste rare resources, de-structure old urban centres, and ruin the landscape. But we must also admit that they have a certain beauty and that they have always stimulated artists’ creativity. This is the aspect this catalogue (and the exhibition at the Fondation Cartier, until 27 Septembre 2017) has chosen to explore. We expect to see Lartigue shooting the races at the Automobile Club de France, or a few remarkable American models from the sixties or even Rossellini and Delon driving a Ferrari and thus illustrating the organic link between movie stars and cars. There is all of that, and a lot more. Doisneau shot some very original ads for Simca – after having worked for Renault. Fifty years later, Sugimoto and Valérie Belin took photographs of spare parts washed up on a beach in New Zealand, or immaculate motors, as if they were true objects of contemplation. The car can be seen from under – as done by Michalak and Völker -, from the side – the stroboscopic views by Andrew Bush. We can study its deathly itineraries, as in the series Karambolage by Arnold Odermatt on accidents in Switzerland, or even make it slip out of the frame. Cars have left so many scars - or tattoos if you prefer - on our planet. We have the parking lots seen from the sky and their geometric compositions as shown by Ed Ruscha, the roads launched like shears through the horizon of the Wild West, as displayed by Alex Mac Lean, or the monstrous interchanges Sue Barr captures in Naples that ridicule an Art deco palace by making it look like a child’s toy in the shadow of the concrete monster. Matteo Pérez Correa increases that difference in his own way by taking close-ups of sheet metal that is crashed, rusty or faded. We then see surprising imaginary landscapes, close to kin with the Tuscan stones Roger Caillois examined.

Autophoto (in English), under the direction of Xavier Barral and Philippe Séclier, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain/Editions Xavier Barral, 464 p., 49 €.

Review published in the newsletter #472 - from 11 May 2017 to 17 May 2017

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