Soirée around Lewis Baltz

Thursday June 26, 2014 - 6 PM

Lewis Baltz, Night Construction, Reno Nevada, 1977, Bruxelles, Fondation A Stichting

Lewis Baltz, courtesy Galerie Thomas Zander, Cologne

LE BAL invites artists, historians, and writers to discuss Lewis Baltz's work in the context of the 70s and 80s and its actual influence. 

Introduction by Dominique Païni, co-curator of the exhibition.

He is the author of many publications about cinema and its conditions of exhibition. He was the manager of La Cinémathèque from 1991 to 2000.


With the participation of :

Larisa Dryansky : Antonioni, Godard and the New Topographics movement

"Baptized after the name of a 1975 exhibition in United States, the New Topographics movement played a crucial part in the transformation of the landscape photographic representation, and by extension, in the blossoming of contemporary photography. Till this day, stories about this movement focused on its involvement in the artistic and cultural american history. In a certain way, this communication highlights the importance of european models by remembering the influence of Michelangelo Antonioni and Jean-Luc Godard's movies. The proven impact of these directors on some photographs of New Topographics, among which we find Lewis Baltz, depends on their vision of the landscape modernity or more generally, on the image."

Larisa Dryansky is a lecturer and specialist in contemporary art history at the Université Paris-Sorbonne. She is the author of  two articles about the relationship between New Topographics and cinema : "Le paysage c'est comme un visage. Jean-Luc Godard et le courant New Topographics", (SIC), december 2012, et "Images of  Thought : The Films of Antonioni and Godard and the New Topographics Movement" in John Rohrbach et Gregory Foster-Rice (dir.), Reframing New Topographics, 2011.


Éric de Chassey : Lewis Baltz and the american stage

Lewis Baltz's work, in the turning point of the 60s and 70s, maintains strong links, as conceptuals as formals, with other american artists's cretions, contemporary or historical, photographed, sculpted or painted. By emphasizing the triteness of his images, despite the fact that it is both contradictory and paradoxical, he includes himself in a national traditional. He redefines it and highlights its singularity. 

Art historian, Éric de Chassey is the manager of the Villa Médicis in Rome. He is the author of many publications about pictural abstraction. In 2006, he published Platitudes. Une histoire de la photographie plate with Gallimard. 


Raphaël Zarka, Regarder le sol

"I discovered Lewis Baltz about 15 years ago, in a review which reproduced his set San Quentin Point (1985). Theses images, I have never forgotten them, and yet I have never wanted to see more. Why ? Retrospectively, I would say that the more significant aspects of San Quentin Point, the low-angle shot, the emptiness, the grounds materiality, its aptic dimension,  presaged my personnal interest in these photographs and to the sculptors who influence the most my own work, from Robert Smithson to Gabriel Orozco but also Michel François and Richard Wentworth."

Raphaël Zark is a french artist. He grasps public space and the shape of monument, the movement measuring tools, by the inventoring, the replica and by searching for historical occurrences. His work has recently been exhibited in the Palais de Tokyo, in the Centre Pompidou and also in the Tate Modern.


Bertrand Schefer, Running on empty

"In this wandered, detailled, focused, drained emptiness, what comes out of the human person ? The fragmented images of Lewis Baltz seem to have relegate it out of range forever , as if it was the end on which his minimalist and abstract work is based. Yet, it is the purpose of a complexe scenario which constantly negociate the presence and absence of men in his images. The work opens on a inaugural gesture of disparition like a true cinematographic scene (Laguna beach, 1969). It often comes back to it, by multiplying the furtive presences, the appearances, the missing images. Man, after staying away from this work for a long time, reaches to break through the unit-images's wall and to reappears in the heart of new ruins."

The philosopher Bertrand Schefer dedicated his last works to the rediscovery of founding texts of italian Renaissance on the visual arts theory. As a writer and director, he also directed En ville (2011) with Valérie Mréjen and published Cérémonie with P.O.L. (2012).


Didier Semin, "De ces paysages, on serait tenté de dire que personne ne leur a passé la main dans les cheveux" (T.W. Adorno, Minima Moralia, 1951)

"The framing of Lewis Baltz on the vernacular architecture of United States in the 70s isn't this easy to interpret : Isn't the artist way of extracting from one unattractive facade a hidden Mondrian structure, some kind of incarnation of the worst art photography, the one who runs under the pretext of objectivity ? After all, it would be possible that a modern pictorialism impersonates more easily the constructive abstraction than the blurred realizations of impressionism. The words of Baltz contradict this interpretation. But the images disprove better this idea — its beauty is undeniable, but it is shaped by melancholy. These images send back to Adorno words in Minima Moralia about american landscapes : "[...] We would be tempted to say that no one ever skimmed its hairs. American landscapes are unconsoled and dreadful."

Lecturer of art history at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux-arts de Paris, Didier Semin has been curator at the Musée d'Art Moderne of Paris, and at the Musée National d'Art modern, Centre¨Pompidou, from 1991 to 1998.

Practical info

Entry price at the exhibition
For more informations :

This event received the support of Gregory Gooding.



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