Publication of an augmented edition of the Collection’s catalogue
This book traces and highlights through a didactic and unique perspective almost thirty years of acquisitions for the biggest contemporary art collection gathered by a bank in France.
Aurelie Deplus, who is in charge of the artistic sponsorship of Societe Generale, describes the spirit behind its conception: “We didn’t want an inventory, but to bring the Collection to light: a true exhibition allowing the artworks to dialogue with each other from page to page, as the reader goes through the book as one goes from a room to another. Carte blanche has been given to Marguerite Pilven, a curator with a keen eye, so that she can give her personal, captivating, and pertinent reading of the Collection.” According to Marguerite Pilven, a work of art “structures the world in a different way and helps to invent it with forms that make it closer and more visible for us. It calls upon our sensorial intelligence by opening our senses, our perceptions and our imaginations.” This idea of openness is a common thread throughout the Collection since its inception, and it is one of the aspects explored in this new edition of the catalogue. This vast overview of 600 pages leads the reader along several trails through a large selection of singular and varied artworks.
More than 25 years of history
Since 1995, the Collection has had the time to develop, expand, and ramify, true to its intention to strengthen social ties by inviting art into daily life. Focusing at first on abstract art in France and the rest of the world since 1940, it was opened to figuration by Frédéric Oudéa in 2009, and was never limited to one medium. It features paintings, sculptures, installations, and photographs; its 650 original works and 1,200 lithographs make for one of the largest contemporary art collections by a bank in France. This wealth is reflected in the catalogue, just like the values underlying the sponsorship policies of the Group and, more broadly, its corporate culture: curiosity, openness, and eclecticism.
To guide the reader, notices written in French and English offer information and contextualisation. Art critic and curator Marguerite Pilven was entrusted with the task of leading us through the dense richness of the Collection. The twelve parts envisioned as just as many common threads or thematic trails highlight the way artworks dialogue, and provide many elements of contextualization and reflection on recent art history. Some sections favour certain media (painting in “Rules and Freedom”, photography in “The Lay of the Land”), but for the most part, a transversal, open approach has been privileged. It suggests links and echoes between artists of different backgrounds and generations, whose goals are sometimes similar, sometimes divergent, focusing either on their process (re-contextualisation operated by Daniel Spoerri, Bady Dalloul, and Carole Fékété in “Rescale-Recycle”, the accent on gestures and forces in works by Takis, Barthélémy Toguo, and Bernar Venet in “Force Fields”) or on the themes evoked, such as the body or the city. The result makes for a wide, plural insight into the creation of the last few decades.
Multiplying the outlooks
The Societe Generale Art Collection was always meant to be shared: its works are part of the daily life of the employees working in the buildings where they are displayed, they can also be lent, presented during temporary exhibitions, guided tours open to everybody and elaborated for different crowds, or seen online, on the website and social media of the Collection… The catalogue belongs to the same project: whether they are exhibited in the middle of the Societe General towers like Barry Flanagan’s bronze elephant or reproduced in its pages, the selected artworks are just as many occasions to train our gaze and sensitivity, and stir reflections and imaginations. Available on demand: here and soon in bookshops.