Monday, April 19, 2010

i heart Guerilla Art

Ignoble artist not welcome in Louvre

AS CROWDS trickled through the Sully wing of the Louvre one recent afternoon, a stocky, middle-aged Frenchman looked around furtively before whipping from under his leather jacket a gilt-framed painting and fixing it to the wall.

Placed alongside the august portraits of Salle 59, the miniature - a vanite depicting two skulls - held its own amid the splendour of the room's more conventional treasures.

But its presence was not welcome and, when the artist returned to see it last week, it had been removed by irate museum staff. ''Now I have to write a letter to the president, director-general or someone to get it back. It's pathetic,'' he said.

Pascal Guerineau, 47, has in recent weeks become the bete noire of Paris's most prestigious galleries and their eagle-eyed security guards.

The stunt was not his first offence. Last month he hung one of his own works in the Musee Maillol in between a Christian Boltanski and a drawing by Jean-Michel Basquiat. The museum, which only spotted the rogue picture at closing time, was not amused.

Though his venture may smack to many of self-promotion, Guerineau insists his actions are less about himself and more about les oublies: the legion of overlooked and under-appreciated French artists he claims to represent.

By hanging pictures in some of the capital's most high-profile exhibitions, he says, he is drawing attention to the desperation felt by many contemporary creatives who struggle to gain recognition. The French art world, in his view, has time only for artists who have made it big, or who are already dead.

Olivier Lorquin, the museum's president, who reportedly was furious over the illicit exhibit, went further in his criticism.

He described Guerineau's drawing - also of a skull - as ''bad, useless, a real piece of crap'' and insisted that no problems had been revealed in the gallery's security system by the artist's ''ignoble'' action.

From The Age

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