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Fine Art PR Publicity Announcements News and Information

Serge Gainsbourg Exhibition

PARIS – The Musée de la musique dedicates an exhibit to Serge Gainsbourg (1928-1991) at a time when his popularity is expanding internationally. While in London and New York, contemporary pop is discovering the poetic and melodic talents of this “French artist”, Tokyo is experiencing a veritable “Gainsbourgmania” through the mixing and sampling of his compositions.

This exhibition is organized thanks to the remarkable loans granted by the family, and particularly Charlotte Gainsbourg, as well as by close friends of Serge Gainsbourg.

The Musée de la musique has entrusted the organization of this project to the artist and sound illustrator Frédéric Sanchez. Cutting-edge in its operation, a mix between an exhibition and an installation, the project serves as homage to a present-day artist with one of the most significant French musical personalities in the 20th century.

Successively a painter, writer, poet, author, performer, composer, actor and director, Serge Gainsbourg was an artist who, throughout his life, used the image in all its forms and particularly his own, revealing an aesthetic universe that eliminated the boundary between “major arts” and “minor arts”.

The exhibit emphasizes the different aspects of this multifaceted work, recognized distinctly as a catalyst of the ages for forty years, following the examples of David Bowie in England and Bob Dylan in the United States. Gainsbourg was always ahead of his time: his writing, compositions, collaborations, aesthetic tendencies and even the course of his personal life often preceded and influenced moral evolution and that of artistic and cultural movements.

By playing with words and references, borrowing as much from classic culture as from popular culture, moving forward, transforming and arranging, he invented a new form of composition made from montages and collages.

The exhibit emphasizes the modernity of his work with music, words and images. Sampling, mixing, remixing, borrowing, quotation, self-quotation and alteration predominate and foreshadow the images and sounds of present-day culture. The exhibit features over one hundred animated images, excerpts from films and audio-visual documents, photographs…

The public will also discover objects or works of art once owned by the artist, such as the statue of L’Homme à tête de chou (Cabbage-headed man) by Claude Lalanne, which inspired the album of the same name, or Paul Klee’s painting, Mauvaises Nouvelles des étoiles (1913), which provided the title for Gainsbourg’s album in 1981.

The famous Autoportrait painted in 1957, sometimes reproduced, will be presented for the first time to the public as well as a large number of original manuscripts, objects and documents demonstrating the written work of Serge Gainsbourg.

Vanessa Paradis, Bambou, Alain Chamfort, Isabelle Adjani, Jaine Birkin, Charlotte Gainsbourg, Catherine Deneuve, Jacques Dutronc, Lulu…A sound design was created by Fédéric Sanchez based on Gainsbourg’s texts which are read by these artists, who either met him or were inspired by him at one point in their lives.

For forty years, Gainsbourg relentlessly created associations and correspondences between words, images and music.

This exhibit is visualized as an authentic spatial positioning in three dimensions, inviting visitors on a dream-like voyage into the artist’s universe, a voyage that solicits the imaginary like that of Alice by Lewis Carroll, a writer often called upon by Serge Gainsbourg.

In the style of Serge Gainsbourg and Jane Birkin in Jean-Christophe Averty’s film Melody Nelson, made for television in 1971, the visitor finds himself plunged into the heart of the artist’s poetic and sophisticated universe and his numerous references and sources of inspiration.

The setup of the visit is a basic walk in a maze of thematic totems, each three meters high, upon which several hundred pieces of lighting equipment present photographic and audiovisual documents. A procession of images with sounds
that move through the space: screens with synchronized images, spatially composed sound… The visitor creates his own rhythm by passing from one “period” to the next…

Shortcuts, accelerations, flashbacks, connections and false connections, the setup of the exhibit resembles a labyrinth of images and sounds.

Manuscripts and objects are displayed in a long showcase window with a background of mirrors, creating the illusion of increased space and infinitely reflecting the images calling to mind of Gainsbourg’s kaleidoscopic universe.

More than three hundred sleeves of records recorded by Serge Gainsbourg and his different interpreters are displayed in a smaller room adjoining the exhibit. Listening booths permit the visitor to listen to the Serge Gainsbourg’s works of his choosing.

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