For the month of May, Stephen Friedman Gallery becomes Galerie de l‘Epoque, a fictional gallery founded in Paris in 1948. An immersive experience takes visitors back to a period environment evoking the aesthetic of an earlier era, presenting European twentieth century masters and classical contemporary artists from America, Europe, Japan and South America. Picasso, Schwitters and Klee sit comfortably with the likes of Isa Genzken, Jiro Takamatsu and Gego.
Forming part of a wider curatorial movement that has grouped historical and more modern works of art, this show goes beyond simply pairing and comparing the old and the new. The complete setting transports the viewer into the past, reminding us that our desire to look both forwards and backwards and to bring the art of the future and past together is not new. This was happening in Paris in the bosom of modernism and on the precipice of postmodernism: a tradition and line of art history still active today.
The French interior designer Emilie Bonaventure has transformed the décor of the gallery to recall the renowned spaces of 1950s Paris. Incorporating important French period furniture by Alain Richard and Jacques Dumond, historical wallpaper and specific paint palettes, the exhibition presents entire environments which offer a unique insight into the collaboration between the curator and the designer. This is the first time artists working across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have been juxtaposed in a complete contemporary environment.
Galerie de l‘Époque blurs the lines not only between historical and contemporary art, but also across international boundaries by presenting artists from South America, Japan, Europe and America. The exhibition demonstrates that art of exceptional quality from different time periods has a binding and profound synergy.