"When Emmanuel Perrotin offered me the opportunity to curate a show in his beautiful new space in Paris, I thought about bringing together some of the major artists of our time to confront one of the most ancient and developed themes in art history: the body and its imprint.
Since man has existed on Earth, from Lascaux to the St. Suaire, from Narcissus to Dorian Gray, he has tried to capture his bodyprint.
In this age of advanced technology, this quest has become even stronger as artists push to express their own imagination.
The artist offers his most intimate thing: his bodyprint, unique, authentic, faithful, absolute, eternal. The bodyprint traces the way to another level of imagination as the artist substitutes himself as the subject, becoming both the surface of the piece and its creator.
The idea for Empreinte Moi began with associations of images: the ones of ANT 78, Anthropologie de l'époque bleue, 1960, one of the most graceful bodyprints by Yves Klein and of Untitled (Sue), circa 1950, a rare blueprint by Robert Rauschenberg and Susan Weil; the images of Bruce Nauman’s roped back (Henry Moore Bound to Fail, 1967-70) and of the grimacing mouth of Sarah Lucas (Where does it all end?, 1994). I also followed Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ footprints in the sand (“Untitled” (Sand), 1993-94) which led me to the Styrofoam panels embossed by those of Rudolf Stingel (Untitled, 2000).
The striking realism of Male Mannequin, 1990, by Charles Ray whose genitals were cast from the artist’s own or of Mask, 1987, Gregor Schneider’s faceprint on plaster contrasts with the elusive trace left by Cindy Sherman’s body (Untitled #168, 1987) or Andy Warhol’s urine (Oxidation Painting, 1978).
At times, the body is only suggested like in “Untitled” (Portrait of Dad), 1991, where Felix Gonzalez-Torres uses white candies as a metaphor and substitute for the weight of his father.
The entire range of feelings, from sweetness to violence, from restraint to aggression, from strength to absence, is represented in the form of dialogues between these works which compliment and oppose the artists at the same time.
So many masterworks could be put together thanks to the artists and collectors who agreed to part with them for the duration of an exhibition. Let them be thanked here, as well as the host for opening his doors."
Gregor Schneider, Mask, 1997, (20 x 15 x 10 cm)
Yves Klein, ANT 78, « Anthropologie de l’époque bleue », 1960, pigment on paper, (218 x 132 cm)