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Musée Maillol : Andres Serrano : Portraits of America


The Musée Maillol Museum and the Tempora agency are presenting an exhibition of photographs by the artist Andres Serrano to better understand the United States engaged in an electoral battle crucial for its future.

Presenting the work of Andres Serrano in Europe, in Paris, in the year 2024 is no coincidence. The looming campaign to elect the 47th President of the United States of America will undoubtedly be extremely violent as the fault lines in American society are deep and numerous. The aspirations are so divergent. Trump has long been seen as an isolated histrion who owed it to his considerable fortune alone to have been able to leave his mark on the Grand Old Party. The image of a crazy and lonely Trump has long prevailed. Even justifying at the launch of his campaign for the Presidency that his remarks, generally outrageous, were relegated to the “Entertainment” pages of press organs as short-sighted as the New York Times. Trump is not a lone player. Andres Serrano demonstrated this jubilantly in 2019 with the installation The Game: All Things Trump and Jerry Saltz detailed all the issues in the book that accompanied the exhibition. This same Trump present, in 2004, in one of Serrano’s most popular series, America, initiated in the aftermath of September 11, constitutes an anchor point from which the present exhibition was designed: from a flag witnessing the trauma to another, older one, included in the 2019 Infamous series.

Tempora and the Maillol Museum therefore offer a journey through Serrano’s “American” work from his first creations, in the mid-1980s, to his most recent works. The series are structured without necessarily obeying a strict chronology. Native Americans (1995-1996) introduces Nomads (1990) to reflect the artist’s dual outlook on society. The Homeless constitute a permanent subject in Serrano’s work as evidenced by the installation of boxes purchased from homeless people and exhibited, within his own exhibitions, for around ten years. If Nomads explores the marginality of those left behind in the American dream, The Klan (1990), in a certain way, explores another facet of exclusion: that of white supremacists whose values ​​have been increasingly widely rejected by a modern America without their feeling of being downgraded having found an answer. From his objective gaze Serrano invites us to think about what the image shows, beyond the trap that its refined aestheticism constitutes. Behind the beauty of a cross, suffering; beyond the luminous steel of a Colt, death; past the pictorial form of the dress and the hood, hatred and racism. Strangely, the artist who, with Piss Christ, was at the heart of one of the biggest art-related controversies in the USA, never seems to want to take sides. His gaze claims the frozen objectivity of the gun barrel. But the subjects speak for themselves: The Morgue (1992) depicts death as the ultimate space of equality in the face of life, Holy Works (2011) highlights religious hysteria; Objects of Desire (1992), the deadly impulse galvanized by the second amendment which ensures the freedom to carry weapons; Torture (2015), state violence; Infamous (2019) the permanence of both racial and sexist prejudices…

From series to series, Serrano delivers a portrait of America as he encounters it on a daily basis and as he feels it evolving under his lens. The photograph thus becomes a testimony which has largely conditioned the progression of his work: the choice of subject now refers to the inventory project which largely runs through contemporary creation. Drawing on platforms like Ebay or public sales, Serrano brings together anthropological material whose photography sets the meaning beyond nomenclature. The Game: All Things Trump constitutes a new political and artistic experience. We hope that the series showed here will allow us to better understand the issues that are tearing America apart as it awaits its 47th President… on whom the future of the world will largely depend for years to come.

Andres Serrano was born in New York (United States) in 1950. He lives and works in New York.


Andres Serrano : Portraits de l’Amérique
Until October 20, 2024
Musée Maillol
59-61 Rue de Grenelle
75007 Paris, France

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