Among the conceptual artists who work with the language, Robert Barry
occupies an important place, at the age of visual art, poetry and philosophy.
Conceptual art is - much more than a revolution of the visual forms of art - a
fundamental rethink of the function of art and artists in a changing cultural
The ideas and works by Robert Barry make significant contribution to the
definition of this new apprehension of art. For this reason we pay tribute to his work, bringing together for the first time all the works published by mfc-michèle didier.
The collaboration between Robert Barry and mfc-michèle didier begins in
2006 with Art Lovers. Published in 270 numbered copies and 30 artist's
proofs, this singular work takes form in a box containing 72 unbounded
plates on which are printed the black and white portrait of 72 "art lovers".
These portraits, covered with a flat black layer, are partially visible and
if we distinguish some fragments of mouth or nose, it is only due to the
"breakthrough" of statements commonly used by the artist. The words
Absurd, Imminent or Expect give us an insight but do not reveal. Any
identification of these Art Lovers is tricky, if not impossible.
In One Billion Colored Dots, Robert Barry imagines 25 volumes, each with
40,000,000 dots, for a total of one billion colored dots. The work is printed
in as many colors as volumes: each volume has its own color. A quantifiable
accumulation and resolutely oriented toward the construction of meaning.
Edited in 30 numbered and signed copies and 5 artist's proofs, this work is
fascinating because of its rigor and its capacity to contain a "whole", which
nevertheless exceeds us. Together with this publication, mfc-michèle didier
published a digital and monochrome version entitled One Billion Dots,
designed for projection edited as well in 30 numbered and signed copies
and 5 artist’s proofs.
With Something in a Box, the content is a "something", gathered in the
form of 62 cards placed in a walnut box. Each of these cards proposes a
different statement, stated by the artist forty years ago. The first one
introduces the 61 following: SOMETHING IN A BOX… and then 61
statements that are supposed to define SOMETHING, the essence of which
remains irrevocably unknown. Published in 2014 with 24 numbered and
signed copies and 6 artist proofs, this work of great poetry recalls from its
invoice the importance of the role of the typewriter in the work of Robert Barry.
Following his own composition method established in 1969, Robert Barry proposes
in 2016 with Somethings that..., a limited edition of 24 sets of 3 parts
numbered and signed and 6 artist proofs on which appear 3 statements. The
two first statements are common to all of the sets, however the third one
is specific for each sets and in that way, is creating 24 original propositions.
If Barry uses words, play with them, put them in a stage or question them,
the statement of Somethings that… has the particularity not to allow
the conception of an image but to generate informal thoughts. Even if the
statement are significant and grammatically correct, any image or visual
transcription can emerge in the spirit of the reader. Only the thoughts remain.
It is therefore up to the FIAC’s visitors to seize this enigmatic work
like the four others presented on the booth mfc-michèle didier on the
occasion of this new edition 2018, so that words, symbols and thoughts
become the spaces of an individual projection, but nevertheless universal.