Jean-Marc Bustamante, Villa Medici, is the catalogue for the French Academy in Rome’s latest exhibition of the same name, on display from February 5th through May 6th, 2012. As well as the renowned French artist, the catalogue also features the work of Dutch painter Pieter Jansz Saenredam, known for his paintings of Dutch church interiors where the acute nudity of the spaces is sharpened by the exercise of rigorous perspectives and the appearance of geometric objects.
Through three chapters in Italian, French, and English along with numerous illustrations and photographs, the underlying motivation for Villa Medici hosting Bustamante (1952) and placing him side by side with Saenredam (1597-1665) emerges.
Bustamante and Saenredam
While there is no direct relation between the two artists, there are intuitive and tangible connections that both the exhibition and catalogue to explore. Their works propose, each in its own way, a constant duality between documentation of what can be seen by the eye and abstract reconstruction of a place, between the distanced representation for the sake of objectivity and the aesthetic delight.
In Bustamante’s works, place is always distanced: usually emptied of all human presence and closed in; they can only be perceived through a mental or physical projection. The early 1980s series entitled Sites, a series of monumental steel sculptures from which two major examples are presented in the exhibition, constitutes the emblematic and programmatic formulation of this principle. It finds some outcomes in his Peintures and Trophées of the 2000s which renew and open the form of the abstract picture.
The visual dialogue between the work of the two artists seeks to understand what links the work of this American artist when he lived in Paris and the French painter whose work inspired academicism and many innovations in modern art. The exhibition was jointly conceived by Ellsworth Kelly and Éric de Chassey.
The second of the series
Jean-Marc Bustamante, Villa Medici is the second in a series of exhibitions, based on the principle of a living artist inviting and channelling an artist from the past. The first edition associated the works of Ellsworth Kelly to Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’ paintings and drawings. This principle emphasizes the fruitful connections between contemporary creation and history.