Sophie Calle, L’Erouv de Jérusalem (détail), 1996, MAHJ © ADAGP, Paris, 2011
Gérard Garouste, Qohelet , 1989, MAHJ © ADAGP, Paris, 2011
Max Wechsler, Sans titre (détail), 2001, MAHJ
Judith Bartolani, Nos Funérailles. L’espoir s’y engouffre (détail), 2005, MAHJ
Serge Lask, Kaddish (détail), 1999, MAHJ
Iris Sara Schiller, La Tresse de ma mère (extrait), 2003, MAHJ
Inviting artists, designers and architects to intervene in the context of a museum collection or historic monument is now a widespread practice, and a perilous but stimulating exercise. Our aim since the museum opened in 1998 has been to constitute a contemporary collection out of these ‘encounters’, that is, to work on a long-term basis with Jewish and non-Jewish artists, always in a spirit of open-mindedness, to create resonances with the objects and themes in the permanent collection.
Christian Boltanski inaugurated this programme with Les Habitants de l’hôtel de Saint-Aignan en 1939, a fragile monument vertically traversing the museum’s 20th-century wing. Jean-Pierre Bertrand, Arik Levy and Michel Nedjar were invited to work on the festivals of the Jewish calendar, whose themes have nurtured their work in often surprising ways.
The relationship to the book, the written word and language has almost naturally been the framework for many of our commissions and acquisitions. Micha Ullman created five Sand Books for the museum collection, and Serge Lask and Judith Bartolani contributed works associating memory and the compulsive practice of writing.
The Prix Maratier, awarded every two years by the Fondation Pro-Mahj, has given us greater freedom, enabling us to integrate into our collection works as different as those by Max Wechsler, Pierrette Bloch, Iris Sara Schiller and Mikael Levin, after fascinating debates with juries attentive to the complexity and specificity of our task.
The Nuit blanche continues to be an annual opportunity to commission a work for the museum’s courtyard. Kader Attia and Antoine Grumbach are just two of the artists who have accepted this challenge. This ongoing project has progressively enriched the collection with emblematic works, which have been complemented by gifts by the artists, collectors and organisations, and also loans, notably from the Fonds national d’art contemporain. The aim of the selection of works shown here is to create echoes with the permanent collection and its themes, particularly the written word.
Contemporary art is ‘infiltrating’ the permanent collection this summer, and, by highlighting some of its aspects, also inviting us to revisit it.
Iris Sara Schiller
Curator : Nathalie Hazan-Brunet
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