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Contemporary art: Saint-Martin-d’Hères launches an art library at Espace Vallès

IN BRIEF – Espace Vallès inaugurated its art library on Thursday, October 21, 2021. The municipal contemporary art gallery of Saint-Martin-d’Hères thus wishes to strengthen cultural mediation in the city, while supporting selected artists.

Thanks to the new art library of the Espace Vallès, ” the works will become familiar, intimate objects », Welcomes Claudine Kahane, cultural affairs assistant at Saint-Martin-d’Hères. The City inaugurated this new facility on Thursday, October 21 in the contemporary art gallery. His first goal? The ” démo­cra­ti­sa­tion » of contemporary art. Knowing that borrowing from this library of plastic works (see box) is completely free, with a predefined duration, like that of a work in a classic library.

Inauguration of the art library at the Espace Vallès in Saint-Martin d'Hères © Laure Gicquel - Place Gre'net

Inauguration of the art library at the Espace Vallès in Saint-Martin d’Hères © Laure Gicquel – Place Gre’net

In activity for thirty-one years, the gallery has organized more than 140 exhibitions since its creation. Its new programming is in line with its objectives: to highlight “ the diversity and vitality of contemporary art, in different disciplines and multiple practices “. Each of its exhibitions includes an art history conference, which is part of a desire to raise public awareness.

A mediation to which the Artothèque will also work. As this is networked with the city’s media library, members will be able to borrow a painting for one month. All within the framework of a participatory approach since following the exhibitions at the Espace Vallès, the public will vote for the provision of works.

Support for 18 artists

Voted in April 2021 by the city council, the budget allocated to the art library is 10,000 euros for the first year and 5,000 euros for the following years. Enough to support artists and allow better dissemination of their work. In total, 18 French visual artists produced the selected pictorial works. With only one rule imposed: the format. In this case, approximately 50 x 50 cm, on paper, framed under glass, to facilitate borrowing and transport.

Exhibition on the ground floor of the Espace Vallès One of the works available at the artothèque © Laure Gicquel - Place Gre'net

Exhibition on the ground floor of the Espace Vallès © Laure Gicquel – Place Gre’net

This new service thus completes the library’s holdings, in addition to the books, DVDs, e-readers, etc. in its catalog. Possible next step? Mobility of works between art libraries and media libraries, allowing them to be displayed in the latter. They could even travel, thanks to the intercommunal syndicate (Sitpi), to Échirolles or Pont-de-Claix.

For Charles Quénard, director of cultural affairs at Saint Martin d’Hères, it is neither more nor less than ” well of mediation and cultural action “! This is in addition to the many cultural facilities available in the city, with an equally innovative program, such as L’Heure Bleue.

What is an art library?

The first art library was inaugurated in Le Havre by André Malraux in 1961. However, the first to be perpetuated was that of Grenoble, in operation since 1968 in partnership with the municipal library. Individuals, associations or even communities can borrow paintings there to brighten up their homes or premises.

Claudine Kahane, cultural affairs assistant at Saint-Martin d'Hères inaugurated the artothèque.

Claudine Kahane, cultural affairs assistant at Saint-Martin d’Hères during the inauguration of the artothèque. © Laure Gicquel – Place Gre’net

In the case of Saint-Martin d’Hères, the loan and return will be done exclusively at Espace Vallès. The available works are located upstairs. But beware, these pieces are fragile… and unique! A specific regulation therefore applies and will be given when the loan form is created.

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