Prix Pierre Daix
 
The first Pierre Daix prize in the history of modern and contemporary art was awarded jointly to Yve-Alain Bois and Marie-Anne Lescourret.
 
<span class="alinea"></span>François Pinault founded the Pierre Daix prize in 2015 as a tribute to the memory of his longtime friend, a celebrated journalist, writer, and historian, departed on November 2, 2014. As François Pinault described him in a statement, “Pierre was a precious friend and an incomparable storyteller. As his work brilliantly illustrates, he always made a point of sharing his immense erudition with others. For a man who profoundly experienced the convulsions of the twentieth century, the transmission of history and knowledge was an absolute duty.” <br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>The award recognizes, each year, the quality of a publication, French or foreign, released during the previous year and dealing with the history of twentieth and twenty-first century art. All genres—biography, monograph, catalogue, essay, or a collection thereof—are eligible. The prize is awarded by a jury of ten prominent players in the fields of arts and culture in Europe.<br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>The 2015 jury of the Pierre Daix prize was composed of: Jean-Jacques Aillagon, former minister of culture; Luca Massimo Barbero, art historian and director of the Art History Institute at the Giorgio Cini Foundation in Venice, co-curator at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection; Laurence Bertrand Dorléac, art historian, editor, lecturer, director of the Arts and Society laboratory at Sciences-Po; Jean-Marie Borzeix, journalist and former director of France Culture; Brigitte Léal, associate director of the Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Pompidou; Laurent Le Bon, president of Musée National Picasso-Paris; Alain Minc, president of AM Conseil and essayist; Markus Müller, lecturer and director of the Picasso Museum in Munster; Alfred Pacquement, former director of Musée National d’Art Moderne – Centre Pompidou; and Marie-Karine Schaub, historian and lecturer (University of Paris–Est Créteil–Val de Marne).<br><br> <span class="alinea"></span> The Jury unanimously decided to award the prize jointly to two publications: <i>Ellsworth Kelly, Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Reliefs, and Sculpture, Volume One, 1940–1953</i>, by Yve-Alain Bois, published by Cahiers d’Art, and <i>Aby Warburg ou la Tentation du Regard</i>, by Marie-Anne Lescourret, published by Éditions Hazan. We are sharing a few excerpts from these books in the language in which they are currently available. <b>M.B.</b>
 
Marie-Anne Lescourret,<br> Extrait de Aby Warburg ou la tentation du regard,<br> Paris, Hazan, coll. « biographie », 2014.
<br><br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Les images nous parlent d’un siècle, d’une civilisation à l’autre, mais elles se parlent également entre elles, langage séculaire des formes qui se perpétuent ou s’accusent, comme l’<i>Atlas</i> le montre, pour peu qu’on prenne le temps de regarder les reproductions les unes par rapport aux autres. Warbug, même bibliothécaire, est bien loin de produire une « histoire de l’art pour aveugles ». Avec lui, l’image prend une portée inouïe, comme sa vaste postérité, sans qu’elle reconnaisse toujours ses dettes, le démontre. Il a frayé la voie aux considérations certes sur la signification des arts visuels, mais aussi sur les pouvoirs de l’image, la place du spectateur, le comparatisme plastique, l’historiographie artistique, à tous ceux qui étaient en mesure de partager le préalable de Léonard suivant lequel les images sont « chose mentale », émissions d’une pensée visuelle, avec ses figures et sa syntaxe, récit humain étranger aux césures de la « science » historique, requérant pour sa compréhension le secours d’une bibliothèque dont les ressources sont, un siècle après sa fondation, encore indispensables, outre celles, encore inexploitées, de ses écrits personnels.<br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>Il a décrit son existence comme un holocauste, percluse de souffrances, l’exigeant meilleur pour les autres qu’il ne l’était pour lui-même. Au risque de se perdre, il a cédé à la tentation du regard, à la passion des images animées de la vie de l’esprit comme de celle des corps, très tôt ressentie en des circonstances paroxystiques. Sous la prétention à l’exemple immobile, il en a éprouvé la profondeur métaphysique, la teneur démoniaque, la stimulation démonique, transgressions que son œuvre entière vise à comprendre dans cette iconologie qu’il s’essayait encore à définir quelques mois avant sa mort : « Iconologie de l’intervalle. Matériau artistique historique pour une psychologie du développement de l’oscillation entre l’établissement de la causalité par l’image ou par le signe. » Il avait proposé également « Prolégomènes à une physique de la distanciation de l’âme ». Jamais assuré, toujours en route, étranger à ces fatigues génératrices du repos de l’idéal, auteur d’un legs encore à explorer, survivance à son tour. Il doutait pourtant de son œuvre, reprenant à l’interrogatif à sa façon, en français, la formule fameuse d’Alfred de Vigny : « qu’est-ce qu’une grande vie, une pensée de jeunesse exécutée dans l’âge mûr ? »
 
Yve-Alain Bois, <br />Extrait de Ellsworth Kelly. Catalogue Raisonné of Paintings, Reliefs, and Sculpture, Volume One, 1940-1953, Paris, Cahiers d'art, 2015.
<br><br><br> <span class="alinea"></span>The lopsided balance of this catalogue raisonné, in which the critical comments tend to lengthen as one proceeds chronologically, is a direct consequence not only of the diversity of Kelly’s production but also of the growing complexity of the issues he was impelled to tackle, relentlessly, in work after work, during the period discussed here. This was not foreseen by any means. Writing a catalogue raisonné was not my initial intention (I at first had in mind a much shorter monograph), and even after I had decided that the only way to pay adequate tribute to Kelly’s considerable output as a painter and a sculptor was to study it exhaustively, I still thought that the entries would be relatively short, albeit preceded by a long, overarching critical introduction. However, as I foraged through the archives of the artist (to which he generously provided full access) and discovered at every turn new information concerning the genesis of his works, it became clear that this wealth of material needed to be sorted out, and whatever was relevant to a fuller appreciation of his work made public. It is at this juncture that I switched gear and, with the full support of the publisher, resolved that the length of the critical comments devoted to each entry needed not be standardized, that each work should be addressed according to the specific issues raised by its creation, the particular response it offered to its context, and eventually the critical reception it garnered. Instead of writing a monograph, I suddenly found myself penning close to a hundred essays, short or long, mostly devoted to a single work (and only on occasion focusing on two, three, or even four at a time). Each entry is conceived so as to be read on its own, although a number of cross-references are provided to orient the reader inside the labyrinth of Kelly’s French production. It is nevertheless my hope that some particularly voracious readers will endeavor to follow Kelly step by step, entry after entry, from his student years to his return to the United States, without missing a beat. Such a piecemeal approach to his art is probably the best way to grasp his “system”: in witnessing this system’s progressive formation, one is almost inevitably led to understand its logic, in a way that is not so different from the artist’s instinctive comprehension at the time of the historical necessity of his work’s development.
 

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