With Madeleine Paternot: Changing the cultural and environmental landscape with art
ANDRE MALRAUX WAS A 20th CENTURY FRENCH ART HISTORIAN, PHILOSOPHER AND CULTURAL POLITICIAN. HE CONCEIVED OF A MUSEE IMAGINAIRE, A MUSEUM WITHOUT WALLS, CONTAINING ALL THE MAJOR WORKS OF ART REPRESENTED IN OUR IMAGINATIONS. THE CONCEPT RESTS ON A PHILOSOPHICAL VIEW OF ART AND ART HISTORY AS ESSENTIALLY ARISING OUT OF A DIALOGUE BETWEEN THE WORKS.
THE 3-D SCULPTURE PARK IN VERBIER, REALIZED BY MADELEINE PATERNOT AND KIKI THOMPSON, HAVE TAKEN MALRAUX’S CONCEPT AND TURNED IT INTO A REALITY.
“The power of art is its ability to articulate human emotions and values such as beauty and truth. On the mountain, faced with such sublime vistas, the visitor can experience these works of art…completely removed from the gallery or museum, directly confronting the truth of nature. This is the true meaning of a museum without walls.”
Paul Goodwin, Verbier 3-D Curator
WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST ART-RELATED BUSINESS VENTURE?
I’ve always had a passion for converting spaces and real estate. I have renovated over seventeen properties. While I was living in Verbier, Switzerland before I moved to New York, I yearned to build an art community. I took a barn from the 1800’s and created a studio and art gallery that also functioned as an office. The Art Barn, hosted small exhibitions and it became a place for local artists to gather.
WHAT GAVE YOU THE IDEA AND VISION TO OPEN A SCULPTURE PARK IN VERBIER?
The Art Barn was my first endeavor where I discovered my love for construction. I enjoyed the physicality of building the space and I was able to parallel my love for art and community. The Art Barn became a real space that enabled me to promote different activations to bring awareness to the local art community. I felt that the dialogue we created around the different needs of the artists in the canton of Valais was valuable not only the artists but the community at large. When I moved to New York, I participated in a residency program at the School of Visual Arts along with my lifelong friend, Kiki Thompson. Kiki and I were intrigued by the idea of bringing international artists to Verbier to engage with the local Swiss artists and landscape. Verbier is known for being extreme and there is nothing more extreme and radical than installing monumental sculptures on top of a high altitude mountain. Additionally, we felt that we could provide opportunities for artists abroad while also engaging local Swiss artists.
WHO ARE SOME OF THE ARTISTS THAT YOU HAVE INCLUDED IN THE PARK AND WHY?
When we conceptualized the park, there was very short lead time so we invited artists who were in our inner circles to participate. At first it was the artists who were willing to take a leap of faith with us and our lack of track record. We were very fortunate that Paul Goodwin, a curator from from Tate Britain took a liking to our audacious project and this helped to give us some credentials. We have been able to work with outstanding artist such as Zak Ove, Will Ryman (who later became the father of my third child), Olaf Breuning, Andrea Hasler, Chloe Dewe Mathews and James Capper to name but a few. Now under the co-curatorial directorship with Alexa Kusber and Paul Goodwin, we look for artist with themes of migration and the environment. This year we launched our very first painter in residence in Verbier. It was a new collaboration between a Lower East side gallery Pablo’s Birthday, whose owner Arne Zimmerman coincidently has a chalet in Verbier. Tessa Perutz a NYC based painter was invited for 6 weeks to make paintings based around the sculpture park. In 2019 we will work with Swiss-German sculptor Karsten Fodinger.
WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FAVORITE PROJECTS THAT THE FOUNDATION HAS FUNDED?
The very first year in 2011, one of my favorites was Zake Ove’s Elephant Walk. It is entirely made of found and recycled local objects and materials. I remember having a lot of fun helping him source materials from the local garbage center.
Another favorite was Andrea Hasler’s land art piece, Avant/Apres from 2014. It was a hot pink “red carpet” with a VIP rope sculpture representing intestines. Her commentary was about which side of the mountain is the VIP section, depending on which side of the rope you find yourself.
Very excited about James Capper’s Aero Cab which was installed on the mountain this Summer 2018. The sculpture reminiscent of a hybrid between a plane and a snow machine, will actually slide down the mountain this week during the Verbier Art Summit and Art Geneva. There is a playfulness about his work, which engages me as a parent of three boys.
WHERE DO YOU SEE THE FOUNDATION HEADED? DO YOU PLAN TO EXPAND ITS SCOPE AND, IF SO, IN WHAT WAYS?
We are actively looking for a main sponsor, ideally a company that has strong links with the environment. We would like more funding to further the residency program, as education and cultural exchange are the pillars of the sculpture Park. More funding would enable us to increase our educational outreach to local and international audiences.
IN OUR NEXT LRFA BLOG POST, WE WILL VISIT WITH MADELEINE PATERNOT AT PRIVATE VIEW NEW YORK, AN EXHIBITION AND CULTURAL MEETING PLACE THAT EXTENDS THE GOALS OF THE VERBIER FOUNDATION TO NEW YORK’S CONTEMPORARY ART SCENE!