New York in Paris: Graffiti + Grom
If you’re looking for traditional museum or gallery shows, you might take a pass on the Cartier Foundation. But if love being surprised, the chances are you’ll find something to like – and something to make you say “Wow!” – every time you visit.
In fact, I’ve seen two of my favorite gallery shows at the Cartier Fondation: One about the work of the fashion designer Issey Miyake (whose clothes I just about live in), and the other a show displaying the joint works of couturier Jean-Paul Gaultier and the members of a master breadbakers guild. Gaultier designed ‘the clothes’ and the bakers created them in bread. Here’s J-P Gaultier’s signature blue and white striped t-shirt crafted in bread.
And here’s an evening dress – sort of. As with everything at the Cartier, it’s as much about the installation as the work. And the installation of the graffiti exhibit is fabulous. I don’t know how they’re ever going to get the place spiffed up for the next exhibit, but for NÃ© Dans la Rue, the fact that the walls of much of the building are covered with graffiti is perfect, if a little disconcerting – good luck trying to find the doors to the bathrooms!
The show concentrates on some of New York’s early writers (which is what the graffitists were called). There are big pieces, lots of commentary (in French and English), small works, including a great collection of ‘piece books’, the notebooks in which the artists planned their works, huge walls by new artists (they were commissioned specifically for this show) and several really good films. There are a few wonderful pieces by Keith Haring and Jean-Michel Basquiat, a moving tribute to taggers who died, and several interviews (in English with French subtitles) with early writers.
The interviews, which also appear in a book written for the show, were conducted by Chris “Freedom” Pape (a family friend), but sadly, none of Chris’s work is shown. I was hoping to see pictures from the Freedom Tunnel or something about his whole car work, this rendering of Michelangelo’s masterpiece, The Creation of Adam, on the side of an entire NYC subway car.
What I did see was this picture, showing some of the stars of the movement, including Freedom and another family friend, the amazingly talented John “Crash” Matos, ‘going straight’ and showing their work in a New York City gallery. The quote in the picture reads: We’ve made our mark on society, now we’re making it in society.”
The show will be at the Fondation Cartier until November 29. Sadly, none of the shows from the Fondation seems to ever travel – understandable with some, like the Gaultier exhibit, where breadmakers were baking downstairs throughout the day – so if you don’t see it here, you usually don’t get to see it.
To finish the New York-in-Paris experience, I’d suggest an ice cream treat from Grom. The Italian company, which has a couple of NYC outposts, opened on the rue de Seine (in the sixth arrondissement), and has been playing to crowds like this ever since.