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27 January 2017

Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès, Gesture as an inheritance.

Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès. janvier 2017 PLUMEVOYAGE @plumevoyagemagazine © Tadzio DR

Texte Françoise Spiekermeier – Photos Courtesy Fondation d’entreprise Hermès

Our gestures are creating us … Through this credo, the Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès wants to valorize the craft trades and more broadly the mastery and transmission of the creative gestures that it considers as a precious part of the heritage of Humanity. Driven by this noble ambition, the Foundation cultivates art and the way to forge links between the world of craftsman, that of the artist and the public to put meaning in the object and the gesture that creates it.

Increasingly present in Parisian and international cultural life, the Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès remains an exemple of discretion. It is a facet of its philosophy that crystallizes a state of mind of a rare cohesion for a company. What is striking within the Hermès House is the profound respect for the commitment of man to make an object with demand and excellence. This culture constitutes the basis of all the actions carried out by the Foundation committed to supporting, through the generations, the trades of the hand to register them in the future.
In our society of hyperconsumption where the barely produced object becomes obsolete, the foundation sees in it cardinal values: durability and transmission. “The object is a vector of culture, it is charged with knowledge, it embodies practices, know-how, a thought. It is the expression of a strong creativity and factor of innovation. It is emblematic of our patrimonial values ​​and testifies to our humanity. ” This is the summary in these words of Pierre-Alexis Dumas, initiator of the Foundation and Artistic Director of Hermès International.
Brussels, Avenue de Waterloo: in the Hermès boutique, the central path offers a tracking between the spaces dedicated to the prestigious Hermès products: silk squares, enamelled jewelry, forged buckle belts, clothes with clean cuts, and finally a small fitting salon for hand stitched shoes. At the back of the store, the path leads to the Verrière, a gallery or rather an exhibition space at the disposal of the foundation: it is its only permanent exhibition in Europe, with La Grande Place, Exhibition at the Saint-Louis Crystal Museum in Saint-Louis-lès-Bitche, Moselle.
Day of vernissage in the presence of Catherine Tsekenis, the director of the Fondation d’Entreprise Hermès. Douglas Eynon, a British artist born in Lewisham in 1989 and Erwan Mahéo, born in Saint-Brieuc in 1968, are friends in life. They met in Brussels where they live and work. They present for three months an exhibition resulting from a collaborative process proposed by Guillaume Désanges, the curator of the Verrière since 2012. Within the framework of the cycle of exhibitions entitled “Ballistic Poetry”, the two artists Space an actor of the exhibition and above all the basic building element of the common work which transforms the place into a mental space. A curtain stretched across the width of the canopy separates the volume in two. Erwan Mahéo sewed on the canvas the flat parts representing the real elements of the exhibition to constitute a kind of fictitious mode of employment. A door cut in the right angle of the textile panel leads, through a corridor, to the installation of Douglas Eynon, hidden interface of the first.
“Sometimes our choices cause astonishment because, at the Foundation, we are quite demanding on the question of the emergence, the renewal of forms, on how to support artists who have a very exploratory vision. For us, the first question is how we help talent, how we accompany them, how we reveal them to the public “explains Catherine Tsekenis who left the Ministry of Culture to join the Hermès group in 2007 in order to settle the Terms of its patronage policy. A policy that wants to respect the meaning of “philanthropy” precisely, since the Foundation does not use patronage to constitute a collection. “The works produced for each exhibition belong to the artists. When we invite artists to La Verrière, we expose them, we give them a visibility. They are allowed to do a new job that is fully built and then belongs to them. ”
For his very first cycle of exhibitions entitled “the gesture of thought”, Guillaume Désanges went to meet the staff of the house. He noticed the importance of know-how for Hermès, and their link with a contemporary creation. “Guillaume invites artists who can be conceptual, even very cerebral at times, and who at the same time make themselves, are extremely meticulous and even obsessive in their way of making objects” explains Catherine Tsekenis. For the exhibition curator, who emphasizes her total freedom of proposal, the most important is that artists can produce projects that are a stage in their work. “I suggest they use the canopy to do something they might not be doing elsewhere. La Verrière is a preserved space, a little stolen, where freedom is great. ”
La Verrière, over the years, has taken its place on the Brussels and European artistic scene to become a flagship place of artistic creation.
Moreover, in order to go further in supporting the creation, the Foundation uses the manufactures of Maison Hermès as part of an artist residencies program inaugurated in 2010.
The residence, accompanied by a scholarship, begins with a phase of immersion within the workshop: the artist becomes familiar with the different trades on the site and is introduced to gestures, words, tools and techniques. The project born of the white page gives place
to a feasibility study. The last stage, that of production, uses the craftsmen’s invaluable know-how to produce a work in two copies: one for the artist and the other for the Foundation, which will be kept or presented at exhibitions .
Young emerging artists are sponsored by established artists. In 2010, Olivier Sévère resided at the Cristallerie Saint Louis. In 2014, Lucie Picandet resided in Le Maroquinerie de Pantin. In total, twenty five artists in six years created, explored, experimented on a dozen different sites. The privileged links of the Fondation d’entreprise Hermès with the Palais de Tokyo in Paris made it possible to present their works to the public within the framework of the exhibition Condensation, in 2013, of which Gaël Charbau assured
the curation. A collaboration that will be renewed in 2017 to present the works of the 2016 cycle of residencies that highlight three artists: Bianca Argimon at Hermès Holding Textile, Lucia Bru at Cristallerie Saint-Louis, and Anastasia Douka at John Lobb in Northampton, England .
In order to act at the root level, ie at the level of the representation of know-how with the younger generations, the Foundation has inaugurated,
in November 2016, Manufacto, the know-how factory, a program unpublished in school, dedicated to the discovery of crafts. In collaboration with the Rector of Paris, but also with
The Compagnons du Devoir and the Tour de France, and with the Camondo school in Paris, Manufacto has started in six Parisian schools, with students of different levels (elementary, secondary and high school). Supervised by a trio of specialists, a carpenter or leather craftsman, a designer and a teacher,
An object through a cycle of technical practice workshops. This pilot year will allow the development of the program on a larger scale thanks to the partnership established with other rectorships in other regions of France. These “non-academic” teachings aim to help students discover new skills and integrate the values ​​of these trades, such as transmission, mutual aid and demand.
The work of noble materials derived from nature has led the Foundation to question the sustainability of raw materials and the impact of the use of resources on the ecosystem. While most companies were interested in climate issues, the question of the role of human know-how in ecological balances naturally emerged as a major focus for the Hermès Fondation. In partnership with Iddri, the Institute for Sustainable Development and International Relations, in 2011 it created the international call for projects “Biodiversity and Local Knowledge”. Among the various projects, three teams of researchers work in France in Brazil and in Colombia with different communities with specific know-how (farmers and gatherers) in singular biodiversity contexts, but faced with the setting of norms likely
to jeopardize their traditions, their knowledge and even their own identity. Finally, “Heart – Head – Hand = H3” is the equation of an internal call for applications, launched with the collaborators of the Hermès house, to bring to the knowledge of the Foundation new solidarity initiatives, emanating from all the continents . Among the projects supported, in the heart of the Ardèche, the Liger association is mobilizing to save the roofs covered with broom or
of slate. Courses of sedge sampling and laying of slate are offered to the individuals and professionals concerned by this habitat, as well as a reflection on the preservation of these roofs that combine tradition with respect for local biodiversity.
Finally, the Foundation has created prizes in numerous fields: in design (the Emile Hermès Prize for Design awarded every two years since 2008), in photography (the Foundation ensures the exclusive sponsorship of the Prix Henri Cartier-Bresson, and entered into an alliance with the Aperture Foundation in New York). Since 2016, the Foundation has been involved in the design and production of exhibitions in private-public partnership with public institutions. The list of actions is almost infinite. So be careful: if you see the gray Print H with colored impasto, brown green yellow and orange … orange Hermes, of course, is that the Hermès Corporate Foundation went through there!
To see
-Over the Rainbow from 15 December 2016 to 22 May 2017 at the Grande Place, Saint-Louis Crystal Museum in Saint-Louis-Lès-Bitche (Moselle): collective exhibition with works from 49 Nord 6 est Frac Lorraine Metz, Archives of Météo France, the international Meisenthal center of art glass and the Museum of the image of Epinal and two artists invited: poetic variations on the theme of the weather.

– Novelty Ltd: Douglas Eynon and Erwan Mahéo, exhibition at La Verrière, Brussels from January 18 to March 25, 2017. An exhibition presented by Guillaume Désanges, curator of the cycle “Ballistic Poetry”.

-The spirit of the Bauhaus, Decorative Arts, Paris from October 19, 2016 to February 26, 2017. Curator Oliver Gabet, Director of Museums of Decorative Arts.

– Palais de Tokyo Fall 2017: exhibition of nine artists in residence including three artists from the current cycle (exact dates to come).


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