The problem of ART should be separated from the question of CULTURE: not to confuse questions related to communication and exchange; in my eyes, art generates a sign of exception, and is as Mallarmé wrote: “a practice in which sense lodges in the mystery of the heart”. With this exhibition, I offer a wide scope: well known or lesser known artists, French artists or other artists who have worked or lived in France, of different generations, with diversity in artistic visions, thus allowing encounters with numerous domains. The chair imposed itself; it comes from daily life and is questioned by art; from this same starting point, the chair asked many artists; the chair of the sculptor, the painter, the colorist, the conceptualist, the expressionist, the letterer, the in-situ, the pop, the minimalist... Eclecticism. Multiplicity. To show with no judgment is the adopted policy, leaving the visitor free to enter the work’s depth, and possibly to seek for the missing piece or the work to come. This event originates in the desire to see what is not yet a current interest, but what is still in unexpected weaves, to the point of bewilderement. The idea of encountering the artists and their work; that is the commitment, I hope it will be heard.

Philippe DELAUNAY, Art collector

Daily objects which surround us, tools, utilities, utensils, have become banal from being too familiar and finally lose their singularity. We can even say we no longer see them, because “we have seen too much of them”. Francis Ponge, the poet, knew how to bestow speech to objects- the crate, the lobster, the cigarette, the apricot, rain… he said they must be “repaired” to give them back their power of object. This was, he added, the artist’s modest but vital function, to know how to repair the world piece by piece. Hence, here is “the chair” thus repaired by one hundred different artists, who were game enough to play the object game: “the objgame”, as Ponge also called it. Here is the chair destroyed, deconstructed, put to shreds, reduced to dust, slashed, dismantled, disfugured, dematerialized, decorated, ormementated…, but finally more than ever “chair”, since it returns us on to our seats. Yes, our seats, because art at work only abandons reality to better reinstate us, poetically, to the game of the world and to life of things.

Jean LAUXEROIS, Philosophe

Philippe Delaunay is a peculiar collector. Fallen in love with a chair, he decided to harvest a hundred and one of them. Right now we are still within the normality of the mania of collecting. But these chairs are masterpieces, this means that each one of them is the fruit of a thought; it has been elaborated, reinvented, and then signed by an individual artist. These are artworks whose initial pretext was a chair. A hundred and one ways to look at the chair and to the world itself. Ordinary object lose their significance exactly because they become ordinary, trivialized by routine. It’s here that the poetry of art manifest itself, in going beyond the trivialization of the ordinary, thus creating a unique masterpiece that is the “Auteur chair”. Theses hundred and one artists restore what the routine has broken. They take back into the game our emotional side dulled by the relaxation that comes with the ordinary lives we live. These artists give birth to a new music, sometimes a strange one, other times a harmonic one, but never boring nor predictable. These chairs are a well-orchestrated symphony, in which the human absence is filled by a series of “creative abuses”. Some of the artists bring the chair back to the ground zero of its functionality; others decided to inhabit the chair with the cartoonish of horrific characters; others still decide to modify the chair in its being useful to make a piece of pure beauty of it. This selection of artists is the most diversified one could dream of.

Boris Brollo, MACA

Deciding to send a chair, still packed and yet to assemble, to a hundred and one artists, leaving them carte blanche on how to modify it, and then deciding to make an important exhibition out of the artworks thus obtained, it’s a surprising idea, yet sensed, intelligent, and … generous, because art collector Philippe Delaunay isn’t simply an art lover who has a profound respect for artist; he is also a passionate collector, a man who engages himself in first person in what he does. A great dose of enthusiasm and courage is necessary to launch out in such an exploit, and it was worth it. In this exhibition poetry, dream and imagination take possession of our everyday lives and we are left stunned before such an amount of creativity. So, pushed through the sieve of artistic reflection, our ordinary chair becomes a work of art. It undergoes attacks from all directions: disarticulated, dismembered, dismantled, deboned, disfigured, coloured, decorated, ornamented, it becomes a phantom, it gets photographed … it goes through hell! It dismissed its appearance of chair and it becomes assise, meaning base, ground, the bedrock of our own vision. The artists surprise us both because of their way of looking at things, so diversified and electric, and the magic of their creations that draws us to interrogate ourselves, way beyond banality, on contemporary art practice and the art’s contribution to ordinary life.

Isabelle de Maison Rouge, Art critic

The choice of the number of artists to whom send the chair – object on with then they would have let their creativity run wild – wasn’t at all an arbitrary one. 101 is a number of rich in symbolism. It recurs, for example, many times in the Kabbalah, in which it’s linked either to the concept of destruction or to the image of Virgin Princess – the Church – as well as to the Archangel Michael. Even the mathematical proprieties of this number make him a peculiar one: 101 is the sum of five consecutive prime numbers (101 = 13 + 17 + 19 + 23 + 29); it’s the smallest palindromic number composed by more than two figures. The number returns often, as well, in contemporary culture. Two examples of this fact can be the Walt Disney movie 101 Dalmatians, and Room 101, the room in which Winston Smith gets tortured in George Orwell’s Ninety Eighty-Four. To Philippe Delaunay the number 101 essentially signifies the sum between 100 – intended as the Whole, the Universe, Totality – and 1, which stands for the beginning of all things: Creation, the generating power, the essence of life, of birth and of all creations. In philosophy the number 1 is associated with the concept of the monad, that individual element that, in references to the creation of the world, is the devine spark, in this case an artistic one, able to give new life to the Universe, to generate a new beginning, a new creation starting from a given totality. The 101 works exhibited are then 101 sparks of creativity which take possession of the Universe to return it to us revitalized, restored, new.

Andrea Rodi, Academic

This catalogue that you are reading, consulting, whether reading it comfortably or not, whether seated on a chair, an office chair, or a library chair; the chair has become a natural element of everyday life. Philippe Delaunay, contemporary art collector, had this wonderful idea to ask a number of artists to use a chair as an object of reference, gathering a wide and rich range of artists representing today’s creativity; the generous approach of the collector consisted in sending some hundred artists, some known and recognized, some less well known, coming from a variety of countries, living and working in Paris or in other regions of France, some exhibiting their work in renown galleries, some working alone in their studios like in a secret laboratory, to all, Philippe Delaunay sent a chair in kit, with the only instructions, this sole request: ”This chair can be assembled, fragmented or combined with foreign elements of whatever type. It can be placed on the ground, attached to the wall, hung from the ceiling, or put in any other situation that you propose.”

Most of the invited artists committed themselves completely to this approach and responded by returning a « chaise-œuvre », expressing in a passionate and often amazing fashion, their creative artistic research; Anne Rochette and Damien Cabanes offer works that continue their current concerns. Leo Delarue, Claude Viallat, and Pierre Buraglio create a work echoing their artistic preoccupations. Shigeo Shinjo, for his part, destructuring the internal structure, gives us an unexpected and baffling result. Artists with styles as diverse as François Arnal and Lydie Régnier hang pieces on the wall beyond the chair object. It is impossible to describe them all in their diversity. Philippe Delaunay, by this simple and common idea to give an object pretext for a constellation of artists, provides us with a strong, accurate, and unexpected reading of the unconventional creativity in our country.

The collector’s enjoyment is clearly recovered in this generous approach. The real collector is one who, during free moments, passionately explores artists’ studios whom he had previously spotted during visits to galleries, museums, and the unusual places where today’s creativity blooms. This collector has only one desire: to bring together all these works into a single exhibition, and in doing so, creating a “musée imaginaire”. Philippe Delaunay, joined and supported by some friends, affiliated with the association “à vol d’oiseau du cercle”, offers this exhibition to the public in order to share with them the transformation of an everyday object into an act of creation. It is the pleasure of the artists and the collector to invite, around these “chaise-oeuvres”, the enjoyment of the public.

Art, object and artists...some thoughts

Marcel ALOCCO: even on a chair, art should stand.
Claude BELLEGARDE: all art has its supports, this seat fits me.
Jean-Pierre BRIGAUDIOT: the object is art but doesn’t know it.
Nicolas COLIN: do nothing and something in the end.
Claude COURTECUISSE: art is the recycling of the real.
Claude GARACHE: my chair to the seating of the court.
Marc-Antoine LOUTTRE: like horses, chairs die standing.
Jean-Luc PARANT: man invented the chair when he stood up for the first time.
Anne ROCHETTE: well then, give shape to the possible.
Germain ROESZ: a radical exactness and an insubordination to cultural dictates is the just aim of art.
Claude TETOT: break the bars, scratch the four legs and make your own seat of art.
Dominique THEBAULT: even the birds no longer land. Migration is compulsory. Non-stop.
Claude VIALLAT: seated art will be itself.
Claude VISEUX : art is allurement.
VLAD et ALINA: given that the number of materials is finite, what is the probability of repetition?