AAJ Press
Art & Public Space, Art Projects, Commissions, Commissions & Projects

FRANCE: New Patrons – Nouveaux Commanditaires. An AAJ Press series on art organisations and commissioning

The New Patrons, or Nouveaux Commanditaires programme involves a participatory democratic process which gives the individual citizen the opportunity to be involved in the cultural life of the community and to commission the work of an artist. The New Patrons programme started in 1993 in France and has realized over 200 artists’ projects (including: John Armleder, Angela Bulloch, Daniel Buren, Christian Boltanski, Claude Levêque, Gloria Friedmann, Annette Messager, Michelangelo Pistoletto) and involving twenty-four cultural mediator organisations in France, Belgium, Italy, Germany, Great Britain, Sweden, Spain and Finland.

“With the New Patrons programme, an artwork no longer solely originates from the personal needs of the individual creator, but also from the needs of society which is represented by people who agree to fully assume roles as decisive as those of artists.”

The commissioning process involves the Artist in a three part collaboration. The Patron: Any individual, group or organisation who wishes to be responsible for commissioning a work of art. The Mediator: the liaison between the Artist and the Citizen-Patron. They are art curators who have knowledge of working with artists and the requirements of modern creative work, and provides the management, financial, legal, technical and administrative skills.

The commission takes place in three stages: Initiative – An art project is proposed and a regional mediator / curator advises to formulate the content and context of the project – art, architecture, design, music – and suggests an artist. Proposal – The artist meets with the mediator and patron to discuss both context and realisation before the artist develops a proposal. Production – Once the artist’s proposal is accepted, the mediator is active in gaining funding, and administrative and political support to realize the project. The patrons, the artist, and the mediator remain involved and share the responsibility for the completed project.

Memorial: Change of Perspectives. Val Lewandowsky, Michaela Melian, Judith Sigmund. From the perspective of contemporary art, the project deals with the modern-day perception and political assimilation of the Memorial to the Dead Soldiers of World War I at the Old Cemetery in Wurzen. The monument was built in 1929/30, in remembrance of the more than 700 citizens of Wurzen who were killed in the First World War. The new construction, built with funds donated by the Hermann-Ilgen Foundation, consists of a double bronze sculpture by Prof. Georg Wrba under a wide stone pointed arch, adjoined by a square courtyard to the north, formed with stone pillars linked together with architraves. The names of the dead and missing soldiers are chiselled into the inside of the pillars.

  • Mediator: Barbara Steiner, Ilina Koralova
  • Patrons: Wurzener Bündnis für Demokratie gegen Neonazismus (Wurzen Alliance for Democracy against neo-Nazism)
  • Supporters: Fondation de France, Neue Auftraggeber e. V. Berlin, Kulturhistorischen Museum Wurzen, town of Wurzen
  • Location: Wurzen, Germany, 2011-12

Xavier Veilhan, Le Monstre. The 1998 town-planning redevelopment scheme for the City of Tours favoured the tourist sites of old Tours. But the shopkeepers and residents, located on the Place du Grand Marché, wanted to add something to enhance the life of their district. It’s image was old-fashioned and down-at-heel. Historically, a city asserted its identity through heraldric emblems of fantastic creatures, used, for example, on a city’s coat of arms. Veilhan has created an ironic monstrous sculpture, which creates an up-to-date contemporary version of the figurative monuments scattered across towns and cities. Veilhan chose to introduce an aggressive approach to public space, while at the same time encouraging the viewer to participate in the work. The installation conceived by Veilhan is both autonomous and linked to the place. It is movable, and is also an artist’s work in its own right, subverting the omnipresent traditional public monument, and proposing an ephemeral existence for cultural artifacts. Associated with this figure standing in space, is minimalist street furniture and a pitch for petanque

  • Mediator: Anastassia Makridou-Bretonneau, Eternal Network
  • Patrons: Place du Grand Marché
  • Supporters: Fondation de France, La ville de Tours
  • Budget: 105,000 €
  • Location: Tours, France, 2004

Matali Crasset, Capsule. In order to encourage people to take up the hobby of pigeon-breeding, while at the same time preserving the quality of a renowned avian stock, the Beauvois pigeon fanciers’ association wished to commission a contemporary artist to design a prototype pigeon loft that would combine aesthetic appeal, functionality and a pedagogic dimension. The mediator commissioned an artist-designer and not a fine artist. Matali Crasset had worked in collaboration with Philippe Starck for five years before opening her own practice. Combining tradition and modernity she designed a capsule shape referring to pigeon lofts recorded in Ancient Egypt. The internal structure is reminiscent of a tree, while the external shell hints at a secret world to be discovered, inviting the public to enter into this extraordinary architecture.

  • Mediator: Bruno Dupont
  • Patrons: Association colombophile de Beauvois-en-Cambrésis
  • Budget: 134 093 €
  • Location: Beauvois-en-Cambrésis, France, 2002-03

Images: (courtesy New Patrons). Simon Patterson. La Maison Forestière, 2011, Ors, France. Mediator: Bruno Dupont. Val Lewandowsky, Michaela Melian, Judith Sigmund. Memorial: Change of Perspectives, Wurzel. Xavier Veilhan, Le Monstre, Tours, France. Matali Crasset, Capsule, Beauvois


An AAJ Press series on art organisations and commissioning. Text: Zénaïde d’Albufera

About zenaide85

Zenaïde d’Albufera has a master’s degree in international law (Université Paris X, Nanterre, France and Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina) and a master's degree in cultural communication. She worked for Christie’s in Paris and the Simon Lee Gallery, Mayfair as PR manager and is currently Media Director at Art and Architecture Journal Press.


No comments yet.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: