“Popular art” is a sensive term. I remember having to cut it from the title of an exhibition of Indian art I was organizing at the Musée des Arts Décoratifsin Paris in 1998 because it was considered derogatory. But times change. Forms fo art that once existed on the margins are moving to the center of contemporary art. Popular art, art brut, singular art and outsider art are increasingly coming to the fore in major international events such as the biennials in Venice, Moscow and Gwangju.
The Fundation Cartier Plays a particulary active role in this process. Organized in 2001, the exhibition Un art popularize ( A Popular Art ) presented artistsfrom all over the world, a global culture combining heirs of the historical avant-gardes and artists from local cultures, including Brazil and India. This juxtaposition of different cuktures continued on the path mapped out Les Magiciens de la Terre and in the spirit of the art modest Championed in France By Hervé Di Rosa.
Boundaries between genres are becoming increasingly elastic and pushing them is one of the great concerns of the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, which, under this moniker, summons a rich and eclectic mix of modes of expression .
Where did access to diversity begin? In the 1940s André Malraux emphasized role that photografhy could play by giving access to finest works, dispensing with the need to travel to the four corners of the world to see then.
A wonderful photo shows him piecing together his Imaginary Museum, standing amidst dozens of photografhs of masterpieces spread out around him on the floor. Pictures of André Breton’s apartment in the 1960s reveal his cabinet of curiosities, juxtaposing works – the actual physical works – from every continent.
More than ever in humam histoty, diversity is within our reach. Today, we are all in a position to constitute our own imaginary museum, our ideal cabinet of curiosities.
Histoires de voir, Show and Tell was the titled of the second Fondation Cartier exhibition dedicated to art on the margins.
Who were the makers of this popular art exhibition held there in 2012? Some were individuals who reinterpreted common scores, local skills and ritual practices in order to add in their own vision, something of themselves, of their particular sensibility and creativity. Virgil Ortiz, Jivya Soma Mash and Isabel Mendès da Cunha come to mind here. Some claimed the status of artist but stood out because they were.autodidacts.Often they came to this calling late in life,when they at last had time, or when what others thought no longer mattered . One thinks of Francisco da Silva, Nino or Mmadou Cissé. Sometimes, the works were the result of external interventions whereby other individuals ( ethnologists, poets, enlightened enthusiasts ) introduced media and materials not seen before in these isolated communities, such as paper and canvas, allwing them to preserve and disseminate their singular cultures, their ancestral modes of expression threatened with extinction. Here one thinks of Jangarh Singh Shyam, Djilatendo and, of course, Taniki, a young Yanomami shaman.
Un art popularize and Histoires de voir, Show and Tell.
A popular art in the singular, in contradistinction to popular ( or folk ) arts. “ Histories of seeing” in the plural in order to celebrate plurality. Singular and plural: the expression of our contemporaneity. “ Contemporary art is dead,long live the contemporary arts!”

Hervé Perdriolle

is an critic, gallerist and curator.
In the author’s personal view, “ contemporary art “ is a singular concept which designates art from the end of World War II the late 1970s, whereas “contemporary arts” is a pluralistic concept that designates art from the end of the 1970s to the present.

Galeria Estação