August 9, 2012 - Museo Amparo - Francis Alÿs. Fabiola
August 9, 2012

Francis Alÿs. Fabiola

Fabiola (inventory no. 102). Paint on canvas.

Francis Alÿs
Fabiola

July 7–October 15, 2012

Museo Amparo
2 Sur 708
Centro Histórico
Puebla, Pue. México
Hours: Wed–Mon, 10–6pm

T +52 (222) 229 38 50
difusion.amparo [​at​] gmail.com

www.museoamparo.com

On Saturday, July 7th, Museo Amparo inaugurated the exhibition Francis Alÿs. Fabiola, presented in the museum’s Colonial Art and Nineteenth Century galleries. The exhibition features more than four hundred images of St. Fabiola, acquired over more than a decade by Francis Alÿs, the Belgian artist settled in Mexico.

The collection, where every work is a hand-made reproduction of an original painted by the academic artist Jean-Jacques Henner in 1885, displays at once a disconcerting homogeneity. As curator Lynne Cook notes, the exhibition poses historical and aesthetic questions generally associated with the great masters of the past, and touches upon essential art topics such as authorship, iconography, function, originality, and collecting, among others. Although at first glance the works appear monotonously similar, on closer examination many differences appear. In general, they encompass a broad range with variations that go from the media used—oil painting, embroidery, enamel, and, in a particularly memorable instance, seeds and beans—to the dazzling variety of technical skill displayed by their creators, most being the work of amateurs.

Francis Alÿs. Fabiola reaches Puebla after a long tour in the US, England, Spain, Switzerland, and Peru, offering an opportunity for the Mexican public to enjoy this interesting project.

The show was commissioned by New York’s Dia Art Foundation and was curated by Lynne Cooke. Its travel itinerary in Latin America was coordinated by Tatiana Cuevas with the support of David Zwirner Gallery, in New York.

The Collection
Belgian artist Francis Alÿs decided to start his own art collection despite having only limited financial resources. Fascinated by the various methods of artisanal production and interested in the way in which the structure of the art market impacts the economy of production, Alÿs decided to start a collection of hand-crafted copies of masterworks of Western art. He expected to find them in the flea markets he liked to frequent, yet he quickly realized that, instead of copies of such works as Raphael’s Madonna or Leonardo’s Last Supper, which he had assumed would be the most popular, what seemed most abundant were images of one saint: Fabiola. Also, these were not created by professionals or art students, but by amateurs and weekend painters. Unlike most museum professionals—and audiences—who focus their attention on exceptional individuals, Alÿs has always been a devotee of unknown craftsmen. Having worked with them in a variety of collaborative projects, he has always felt the deepest respect for anonymous, humble creators, and in consequence this unexpected aspect of the Fabiola reproductions was specially fascinating for him. Begun as a modest, almost casual search, Alÿs’ discreet project has evolved in unsuspected ways. The collection soon surpassed his expectations and continues to expand as the artist found new works in his travels or through friends and colleagues who know of his interest.

Francis Alÿs
Alÿs (Antwerp, 1959) studied architecture at the Institut Supérieur d’Architecture Saint-Luc, in Tournai, Belgium, and later at the Istituto Universitario di Architettura in Venice, Italy. He settled in Mexico in 1986 and in the early 1990s began to develop his work as an artist by walking around the streets of Mexico City’s historic downtown and documenting his everyday experiences through slides, videos, postcards, and performative interventions. He has presented solo shows at the Museo de Arte Moderno in Mexico City (1997); Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid (2003); Artangel, London (2005); Antiguo Colegio de San Ildefonso, Mexico City (2006); UCLA Hammer Museum, Los Angeles (2007); Kunstmuseum Wolfsburg, Germany and Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago, Chicago, Illinois (2008); among others. The large-scale retrospective Francis Alÿs: A Story of Deception was presented simultaneously at the Tate Modern, London, the WIELS Centre D’Art Contemporain, Brussels, and the Museum of Modern Art, New York, in 2010–2011. Alÿs lives and works in Mexico City.

Museo Amparo presents Francis Alÿs. Fabiola
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