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Monsieur Surleau et le Cyclope

Chateau des ducs de Wurtemberg, Montbeliard

From the fine-arts collection of Montbeliard to contemporary works of art from FRAC Franche-Comte'. Paintings, sculptures, drawings and installations create a dialog in a novel face-to-face presentation that makes it possible to approach contemporary pieces by way of classical art, and view old works with a fresh eye.

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The show brings together a range of 19th- and 20th-century paintings from the Musées de Montbéliard collections and a selection of works from the contemporary art collection of the Fonds Régional d'Art Contemporain (FRAC) of Franche-Comté. Paintings, sculptures, drawings and installations create an intense, engaging dialog in a novel face-to-face presentation that makes it possible to approach contemporary pieces by way of classical art, and view old works with a fresh contemporary eye.

The story of 'Monsieur Surleau et le Cyclope' grew out of two collections found in the same area in eastern France-Franche-Comté-and their coming together in one venue. Monsieur Surleau, a pastor in Montbéliard, is the subject of a portrait done by the painter Dominique Erra in 1820 that has been discreetly conserved in the Musées de Montbéliard reserves ever since. And the mythological Cyclops of the exhibition's title, a reference in a painting that Alfred Courmes composed in 1960, is a strange element haunting the Besancon FRAC collections: 'Ave Maria, le Cyclope n'avait qu'un œil mais c'était le bon' (Ave Maria, the Cyclops Had but One Eye, but It Was the Right One). Depicting a clergyman next to a little girl who comes straight out of a piece of Japy enamelware for Menier chocolate, the image sets the tone of a local industrial heritage with a religious strain running through it. How does one bring together two collections of art, from very different time periods but the same region, in order to spark a dialog between the individual works?

'Monsieur Surleau et le Cyclope' plays on formal, thematic and esthetic parallels in order to lend the featured works new meaning and relevancy. The forty-four pieces, or twenty-two pairs of works, which span up to two centuries at times, center on subjects that remain surprisingly identical, from portrait and self-portrait, to landscape and still life, to nudes and genre scenes… Today's art looks at the same things as the art of earlier times did, from a point of view that is only slightly different in fact and to such a degree that the viewer can no longer tell what belongs to the contemporary and what to classical art.

By creating associations that are improbable, daring, expected or comical, the pairings are of a nature to make visitors stop and question, smile or discover new readings in them. And the original layout of the exhibition space reveals the works through a play of scale, perspective, distance and volume.

Finally, if indeed playful, the show is also consciously tailored to the logic that governs programing at the Musées de Montbéliard. That logic strives to break down the walls separating different historical periods and disciplines. It is, in other words, all about telling new stories with artworks from yesterday and today, near and far, quite diverse and yet still part of the very same world.

Adam Adach, Paul Aïzpiri, Philip Akkerman, Albert André, Eugène Baboulène, Stephan Balkenhol, Istvan Balogh, Jacques Berthet, Armand Bloch, Martin Boyce, Louis Callé, Charles Camus, Paul Alfred Colin, Gérard Collin–Thiébaut, Vincent Corpet, Alfred Courmes, Dominique Erra, Bernard Faucon, Jacques Fournel, Eugène Fromentin, Angela Grauerholz, Louis Leblanc, Jean Le Gac, Louis Macabrey, Georges Marconnet, Charles Michaud, Judy Milner, Robert Moninot, Régis Perray, Raymond Pettibon, Bernard Piffaretti, Eric Poitevin, Loïc Raguénès, Auguste Sage, Pierre Savatier, Simon Vouet, Charles Weisser, Jules-Émile Zingg

Image: Istvan Balogh – Out and out (ecstasies), 2002 (detail) - Collection Frac Franche-Comté - © Adagp, Paris
Auguste Sage – le Sommeil d'Antiope, around 1869 (detail) - Collection musées de Montbéliard - © Marc Cellier
Graphic design : Mediapop

Press contact
Aurélie Voltz Phone: +33 3 81992372 Fax: +33 3 81992264

Opening: 04th April 2013, 6 pm

Musée du château des ducs de Wurtemberg, Montbéliard
Cour du Château - 25200 Montbéliard
Open daily 10 - 12 am / 2 - 6 pm
Closed on Tuesday

Monsieur Surleau et le Cyclope
dal 3/4/2013 al 14/9/2013

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