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Behind the Scenes with Singulart at the Société Générale Art Collection

To mark the 25th anniversary of the Société Générale’s art collection, Singulart went on a private tour of the galleries in Paris. Established in 1995, the Société Générale’s collection is comprised of around 1,400 contemporary artworks. None of them are in storage and every single piece is exhibited, changing its place from time to time to ensure a little variation.

Singulart visits the collection of the Société Générale
Singulart visits the collection of the Société Générale

The Société Générale Art Collection

Environmental Works

Archief 2 & Archief 3 (2007), Marjan Teeuwen

Dutch artist Marjan Teeuwen creates art that combines painting, sculpture, installation, architecture and photography. She produces oversized, monochrome works, which she calls “piled spaces” that explore ideas of environmental protection. In these photographs, the artist neatly stacks all materials that accumulate when a building is demolished. The photographs show an area of about 1 km of meticulously stacked matter.

The Art of Everyday Life

Restaurant Spoerri: Tableau Piège (1972), Daniel Spoerri

Daniel Spoerri is a Swiss object artist. He was introduced to the art world through dance in the 1950s, before devoting himself to theater. In 1960, he invented his first tableaux-piège (trap board) by gluing everyday objects from his hotel room onto boards- objects that are literally transformed by the change from a horizontal to a vertical perspective.

The artist deals with a topic that has presented itself time and time again throughout art history: food and social gatherings. His work in the Société Généralé collection was made in Switzerland, and even the table was removed from it’s original home and sawed to size. If you want to actively participate in his art, you can do so in his restaurant. After the meal, the food and crockery is stuck on the table to create another work of art. Here the question naturally arises: who created the work, Spoerri or his dinner guests?

Lévitation de Chaise (2005), Philippe Ramette

This bronze sculpture by French artist Philippe Ramette imitates the texture of wood and rope with astonishing accuracy. According to the artist, it is a “photographic sculpture” that shows the precise moment when the chair lifts off and frees itself from the rope that held it to the ground. However, our art expert, who guided us through the collection of the Société Générale, explained another interpretation for the work: the sculpture metaphorically symbolizes everyday life; you want to fly away, but the rope holds you down. It thus symbolizes the French expression “Metro, Boulot, Dodo” (subway, work, sleep).

Social Consciousness

Herald Tribune International (2005), Du Wang

The artist Du Wang came to Paris in 1990 after spending nine months in a Chinese prison following the Tiananmen Square massacre. In his work, Wang deals with the power of the media and freedom of expression. The sculpture shows a crumpled page of the newspaper The Herald Tribune International, a famous American daily newspaper that is sold in 180 countries- a strong symbol of the power of media and circulation of information.

Walking Towards God III (2017), Turiya Magadela

In her artworks, South African artist Turiya Magadela focuses on abstraction and questions the boundaries of artistic genres. Her geometric compositions often consist of folded and stretched fabrics or cut tights. The overlapping transparent colors of the fabrics are reminiscent of a finely nuanced action painting.

In her practice, Magadela speaks from her personal experience as a woman and a mother. The tights have become a recurring motif in her work and represent femininity. According to our art guide, the artist also wants to draw attention to topics such as female genital mutilation to create awareness of them. Many also see female sex organs in the aesthetic layering of the tights, which further strengthens this interpretation.

March 9 2006, Three Gorges Zigui Hubei (2006), Dan Luo

In order to draw attention to another side of China- the one without skyscrapers and Olympic Games- artist Dan Luo traveled all over the country to photograph the people who have been completely forgotten. In this photograph, a father looks over the Three Gorges region and at the sunken land at his feet. With the young child in his arms, the picture reads both nostalgic and looking towards the future. Thanks to the artist’s soft aesthetics and vague but beautiful depictions of his subjects, he has so far been able to escape the censorship of the country.

The Highlights of the Collection

19.10.76 (1976), Zao Wou-Ki

The paintings of Zo Wou-Ki are reminiscent of diary entries on canvas, as he titles each work with the date he created it. He paints abstract depictions of atmospheric landscapes that are highly poetic. His name itself – Wou-Ki means “without borders”- is fitting for an artist who experiments with different media and has explored different cultural identities. The artist was born in Beijing, but lived in Paris and was a close friend of Miró and Giacometti. He succeeded in bridging the differences and distances between Eastern and Western traditions, and his paintings are worth millions.

14th May 1958 (1958), Pierre Soulages

Pierre Soulages belongs to the generation of post-war abstract painters. Since 1950, his art has been recognized and in demand. More than 150 of his works are exhibited in collections of modern art museums around the world and his work is also traded for millions of dollars.

The color black has fascinated the artist since the beginning of his work. In his early days, he used and examined it in contrast to other colors, but after 1970, he began to use the color exclusively. In his paintings, he concentrates on finding the light in the color black. He has even created his own color: Beyond the Black.

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