As a pendant to the Corps et décors, Rodin et les arts décoratifs exhibition, and as part of its ongoing contemporary art program, the musée Rodin invites Wim Delvoye to show some of his major works inside the hôtel Biron and in the main courtyard of the museum.
Born in 1965 in Belgium, this well-known and internationally recognized artist proposes works which, while drawing their references from a certain tradition of the Flemish art, develop themselves according to the principles of the current globalized economy: between local and global, from Ghent – siege of the "Studio Wim Delvoye" – to Beijing, where his "Art Farm" is located.
Fused with irony and iconoclasm, his artistic practice mixes popular images and high culture to underline the contradictions and transformations of our contemporary environment. Revisiting all the genres, including the most irreconcilable, Wim Delvoye appropriates the question of the ornamental and blows it up by deconstructing the supposed coherence between the decorative motive and the function of the object – its support of representation. This movement and displacement challenges our conceptions of good and bad taste in the decorative arts.
Welcoming the visitor in the main courtyard of the hôtel Biron, the monumental sculpture Tour (2009-2010), is an example of the artist’s research on architecture in its historic and sacred dimension, as well as the question of decoration within the industrial era. The presence of this both impressive and delicately decorated neo-gothic work which is over ten meters high, takes part of the surrounding visual landscape, and horizon which crosses the dome of the Invalides and the summit of the Eiffel Tower.
Made with laser cut Corten steel, this blazing arrow illustrates Wim Delvoye’s fascination for the Gothic era, especially its representation of the ideal and of perfectly symmetric architecture. We find this search for perfect shaping in the series of the crucifixions presented in the hôtel Biron: a distorted crucifix takes the outline and the elliptic shape of an organic molecule (DNA).
Echoing Rodin’s monumental Gates of Hell, which can be seen in the museum’s park, Gate (model) (2008) is the scale model representation of the artist’s studio gate. Following the example of Rodin, Wim Delvoye figures in this mechanized work the leitmotivs of his plastic vocabulary, such as Mr. Clean and trademarks of Hollywood studios.
Here technical savoir-faire is counterbalanced by the seeming triviality of the represented subject or motive. Between sacred and profane, crafts and industry, science and religion, art and scatology, Wim Delvoye operates by appropriation, diversion, mixing and assemblage.