The Montblanc Cultural Foundation, based in Hamburg, was founded in 1992 with a mission to promote innovative thinking through supporting the arts worldwide. It’s core initiatives include the globally recognized Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award and the Montblanc Art Collection. The Montblanc de la Culture Arts Patronage Award, has honored close to 300 patrons in 17 countries in the past 26 years with a donation of almost 5 million Euros. Since 2002, the Montblanc Art Collection has supported over 170 artists with more than 210 artworks by commissioning them to create new works. The collection includes many internationally renowned figures such as John Armleder, Monica Bonvicini, José León Cerillo, Thomas Demand, Hans-Peter Feldmann, Sylvie Fleury, Liam Gillick, Gary Hume, Fang Lijun, Thomas Ruff, Tom Sachs, Chiharu Shiota, Cerith Wyn Evans,and Heimo Zobernig, to name a few.

The major part of the Montblanc Art Collection can be seen by the public in the Montblanc production facilities in Hamburg. In 2016 curators Sam Bardaouil and Till Fellrath, were appointed as Chairmen and have since been leading the Foundation’s new strategic direction.

Managing director is Stephanie Radl.

Anne & Patrick Poirier | France | “Demain le soleil rouge se levera aussi sur le mont blanc” | 2002 | 300 cm x 220 cm x 90 cm | Digital print on aluminium

French artists Anne & Patrick Poirier (both b. 1942) have been working together since the late 1960s. Their fictional archaeological ruins and mythological landscapes have ensured international recognition in the art community for the couple, who live in Lourmarin in Provence. The Poiriers collect and visually represent traces of the past, objects and memories of historical relevance that also contain a personal connection. “We believe that memory and cultural knowledge are the foundation for all understanding among individuals and societies” is how the artists, who have repeatedly shown their work at the Biennale di Venezia, describe their creative concern. In their work “Homage to Aby Warburg” for Montblanc, referring to the cultural science collection of Hamburg art historian Aby Warburg (1866–1929), they designed a “Memoria Mundi”, a visualised cultural memory projected onto a Mappa-Mundi-like disc. For the Montblanc Art Bags series, in 2002 Anne & Patrick Poirier designed the sculpture “Demain le soleil rouge se lèvera aussi sur le mont blanc”, a memory of a personal experience of beauty and transience at the sight of Mont Blanc.

David LaChapelle – | USA | “All American” | 2002 | 300 cm x 220 cm x 90 cm | Digital print on aluminium

American artist David LaChapelle (b. 1968) has received numerous awards and distinctions for his glamorous, brightly coloured erotic photographs, advertising campaigns and music videos. This “Fellini of photography”, as he was referred to in the New York Times Magazine, began his career as a photographer for Andy Warhol’s Interview magazine at the age of 17. Since then the artist, who lives and works in New York and Los Angeles, has continued to attract attention with imaginative photographs for renowned fashion and society magazines and with his provocative portraits of prominent personalities from the world of pop set in opulently staged surroundings. LaChapelle received special recognition for his extravagant, body-focused and visionary music videos as well as the furious documentary “Rize” (2005) about young dancers in the ghettos of Los Angeles. In the Montblanc Art Bags series, the artist created the “All American” design, a garish and exaggerated reflection of the “American way of life”.

Gary Hume

Gary Hume (b. 1962), who lives in London, is one of the most significant contemporary British artists. Hume became internationally known as a member of the Young British Artist movement, a group centring around Damien Hirst, which in 1988 attracted the attention of art collector Charles Saatchi and which enlivened the British arts scene in the 1990s. In 1996, Hume was nominated for the Turner Prize, and was admitted to the Royal Academy in 2001. High-gloss surfaces, created by Hume using enamel paints on hard substrates such as aluminium, are characteristic of his pictorial work. Reduced forms, stimulated by flora and fauna and inspired by portraits, clean edges and neat colours applied in several superimposed layers typify Hume’s elegant paintings, which fluctuate between abstract and figurative. In 2002, the artist created the sculpture “Love letters in your pyjamas” for the Montblanc Art Bags series. It combines floral shapes, pictograms and abstract patterns.

Huang Min | China | “ViewReview (Series 3)” | 2011 | 300 cm x 220 cm x 90 cm | Digital print on aluminium

Traditional Chinese landscapes, rendered in oils with a watercolour technique, and, in the foreground, in a realistic pictorial technique, informal groups of Chinese people in contemporary Western clothing contemplating nature in front of a balustrade, characterise the pictorial work of artist Huang Min, who was born in China in 1975. The painter comes from an artists’ family, in which she was trained in traditional Chinese painting techniques before she studied at the Sichuan Academy of Fine Arts and at the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing until 2006. She works on canvas, porcelain slabs and the traditional Chinese Xuan paper. The clash of the different forms of representation used for the landscape and the viewers emphasises an alienation of Man from nature, which in Huang Min’s paintings appears as a painting itself, moreover belonging to another period as the public in the foreground. At the same time, the artist, who lives in Beijing, contrasts Eastern and Western painting traditions, citing the rear-view figure as a stylistic tool by means of which the viewer is encouraged to exercise self-reflection, and confronts Chinese tradition with the Western lifestyle. For Montblanc, the artist designed the “ViewReview (Series 3)” Art Bag, making reference to her eponymous group of works consisting of several 16-m long panoramas featuring visually introverted life-size rear-view figures allowing the landscape to act on them as a Taoist element.

Jean-Marc Bustamante | France | “Untitled” | 2002 | 300 cm x 220 cm x 90 cm | Digital print on aluminium

“My work makes it possible to open up spaces that are traditionally inaccessible, to work in boundary areas, to explore spatial as well as psychological limits,” says the renowned French artist Jean-Marc Bustamante (b. 1952) to describe his oeuvre consisting of photography, painting, sculpture and installations. Bustamante first became known with his series “Tableaux” (1977–1982), large-format colour photographs of new developments in the suburbs of Barcelona, empty building sites, fences and leftover building materials – a landscape in the process of change. The landscape is the central protagonist in the Paris-based artist’s large-format mural reliefs (“Paysages” [“Landscapes”]) and in the works in which he experiments with the lightness and translucency of plexiglas, such as the group entitled “Panoramas”. In 2002, Bustamante contributed to the Montblanc Art Bags series with “Untitled”, a work that displays the artist’s minimalist form language.

Ma Jun | China | “Porcelain Car (Series 1)” | 2011 | 300 cm x 220 cm x 90 cm | Digital print on aluminium

Chinese sculptor Ma Jun (b. 1974) generated special attention in the art world with his “Porcelain Car” (2003), a 1:1 sculpture of a luxury sedan or saloon car, covered with shimmering paint and traditional motifs taken from Chinese porcelain painting. For Montblanc, the artist, who graduated from the Central Academy of Fine Arts in Beijing in 2003, created the “Porcelain Car (Series 1)” art bag, which was given the baked and painted look of the centuries-old traditional Chinese porcelain manufacture by means of fine craquelure and folkloristic patterns. To provide a structural shape for his objects made of porcelain, fibreglass or aluminium, Ma Jun primarily selects products symbolising Western opulence, such as cars, TV sets, cassette recorders, thermos flasks or beverage cans, which are then merged with the Chinese culture by means of the typical porcelain surface. In this way Ma Jun, who feels that his work is primarily inspired by Claes Oldenburg and the American pop art movement, essentially questions the identity-generating effect of consumer articles.

Marcel van Eeden | The Netherlands | “Help!” (Artbag) | 2011 | 300 cm x 220 cm x 90 cm | Digital print on aluminium

Enigmatic, often dark and eerie stories develop in the small-format, primarily charcoal-drawn works of Dutch artist Marcel van Eeden (b. 1965). In 1993 the draughtsman and conceptual artist, who now lives in Zurich and The Hague started producing one drawing a day. The drawings, arranged into labyrinthine image worlds, do not, however, in any way reflect autobiographical experiences. Rather, van Eeden uses archetypal images from films, magazines or literary texts, all of which were originally created before 22 November 1965, the artist’s date of birth. Thus, as a storyteller he interweaves history and fiction with the present. His chosen images do not refer to sensational events, but, rather, represent insignificant incidents in the periphery of everyday experience. In 2011, van Eeden designed the sculpture “Help!” for the Montblanc Art Bags range. Paper-cutting-like silhouettes reminiscent of fairy tales meet bright watercolour petals, opaque elements contrast with transparencies and well-grounded components engage a dialogue with airily floating objects, interconnected by comic-inspired speech bubbles and cryptic text comments.

Sam Taylor-Wood | U.K. | “Kyoto Girl” | 2002 | 300 cm x 220 cm x 90 cm | Digital print on aluminium

In her enigmatic pictures, which pulsate with energy and are frequently inspired by renaissance and baroque paintings, London-born photographer and video artist Sam Taylor-Wood (*1967) examines and dissects the physical and mental condition of present-day society. In 1997, Taylor-Wood, who graduated from Goldsmiths College and is a member of Young British Artists group formed around Damien Hirst, won the Illy Prize at the Biennale di Venezia; a year later she was nominated for the Turner Prize. In her striking photo series “Crying Men” (2002-2004), Taylor-Wood succeeded in capturing her subjects in intimate, highly emotional moments. The laws of nature are a recurring theme in the London-based artist’s work, as in “Still Life” (2001), a time-lapse film of a fruit arrangement decomposing, and the photo series “Self-Portrait suspended” (2000-2001) and “Falling” (2003), which shows bodies floating elegantly in the air or falling in slow-motion – eloquent symbols of fragility and vulnerability.

Sylvie Fleury

Since the 1990s, Geneva artist Sylvie Fleury, born in 1961, has become well known in the art world through her exquisitely colourful, glamorous staging of luxury articles and advertising slogans. Like pop artists, Fleury analyses advertising, consumption and popular culture, triggering discussion of the relationship between art and commerce. She questions the beautiful appearance of luxury articles elevated to the rank of artworks, emphasising their fetishistic nature and unmasking the longing and the wishful thinking in our society. Fleury’s work has often been compared to Jeff Koons’ material language.

Her shimmering or fluffy surfaces, precious materials or elegantly wound light objects, like the neon-coloured light spiral created for Montblanc in 2002, transmit the specific message of her out-of-context objects. In them, aesthetic manipulation, desire and satisfaction of a lust for consumption reach a climax. Also in 2002, Fleury designed the sculpted creation “Kustom Bag Kommando“ within the Montblanc Art Bags series, continuing the staging of shopping bags of famous luxury brands first presented by the artist in the 1990s.

Zou Cao

Zou Cao holds an MA in Oil Painting from the Academy of Arts, Northeast Normal University, a PhD in Western Philosophy from the Academy of Philosophical and Social Studies, Jilin University, and a post-doc in the Study of Fine Arts, Central Academy of Fine Arts. His special experience of academic studies and research has infused unique characteristics of conceptual art into his artistic creation. Zou Cao artistic creation is rich and wide-ranging….


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Art 2018, Sculpture