For one month, as part as the season dedicated to the “Scène française”, the Palais de Tokyo will host the various métiers d’art that have been rewarded and supported by the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller for the last twenty years, without trying to hierarchize the works or the crafts displayed. The sentence that has been chosen as the title of the exhibition is from L’Idée fixe ou Deux Hommes à la mer*, 1932 (translated into English as Idée Fixe. A Dialogue by the Sea, New York, Bollingen Foundation, 1965)), a novel by Paul Valéry. It sets up a dialogue with the lines by the author inscribed on the pediments of the Palais de Chaillot, a building located nearby and dating from the same period.
The exhibition -curated by Laurent Le Bon in an installation by the artist Isabelle Cornaro- is organized into four sequences which play on the variations of light intensity and on the dilation of space. It opens with a contextual introduction, designed as an astonishing cabinet of wonders and putting on display hundreds of pieces from the collections of the Beaux-Arts de Paris which celebrates the hands alone. These hands then become embodied, as the creative process is initiated. In the Workshop, visitors discover the faces, and the tools, machines and materials of the 281 French métiers d’art. The space then opens onto the city, and the creations are presented along a festive parade, bathed in natural light, and punctuated with the presence of vegetation, as in a happy vanitas still life. Finally, still images are set in motion and projected in a panorama representing various types of actions carried out to support the métiers d’art: restoring primacy to the senses, the panorama is also an invitation to imagine the future.
”- You must admit that hands are a really extraordinary appliance.… In the morning, professional… – And by appointment… – And in the evening, functional! … It’s wonderful. – They’re the all-purpose grippers! – But what about the mind? – It begins and ends in the fingertips.”
For the last twenty years, the Liliane Bettencourt Prize pour l’intelligence de la main®, established by the Fondation Bettencourt Schueller, has highlighted the exceptional skills, creativity, and innovation of craftspeople involved in the French contemporary art scene. This exhibition is a reflection of the Fondation’s commitment to philanthropic endeavors.
The exhibition catalog, published by Flammarion, is available at the Palais de Tokyo bookshop.