Art & Culture

A Grandiose Exhibition “Trees” at The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain

Success! Extended until 5th January, 2020.
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Exhibition “Trees” at The Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, photo: Thibaut Voisin

Bringing together a community of artists, botanists, and philosophers, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain echoes the latest scientific research that sheds new light on trees. Organized around several large ensembles of works, the exhibition Trees gives voice to numerous figures who, through their aesthetic or scientific journey, have developed a strong, intimate link with trees, thereby revealing the beauty and biological wealth of these great protagonists of the living world, threatened today with large-scale deforestation.

Trees are among the oldest living organisms on the planet - the first known fossil forest dates from 385 million years ago -, and the plant world makes up 82.5% of the terrestrial biomass. In comparison, humans are only 300,000 years old and represent a mere 0.01% of this organic mass. 

Photo: Thibaut Voisin, Exhibition “Trees” @Fondation Cartier

Underestimated by biology for a long time, trees - like the entirety of the plant kingdom - have been the subject of scientific discoveries over the past decade that have opened up a new way of understanding one of the most majestic members of the living world. Trees have been shown to have a wealth of impressive abilities: an innate adaptability, sensory abilities, memory capacities, the capacity to communicate with - and heal - other trees, symbiosis with other species and climatic influence. These findings have led to the development of the concept of "plant intelligence" that some believe could hold the answers to multiple current environmental challenges. Trees intertwines these ideas with the theories of artists, botanists and philosophers and continues the Fondation Cartier’s ongoing commitment to explore contemporary ecological questions and the place of humans in the living world.

Photo: Thibaut Voisin, Exhibition “Trees” @Fondation Cartier

Bringing together a community of artists, botanists, and philosophers, the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain echoes these latest scientific research that sheds new light on trees. Organized around several large ensembles of works, spectacular exhibition Trees gives voice to numerous figures who, through their aesthetic or scientific journey, have developed a strong, intimate link with trees, thereby revealing the beauty and biological wealth of these great protagonists of the living world, threatened today with large-scale deforestation. 

In resonance with this “plant revolution,” the exhibition Trees merges the ideas of artists and researchers, thus prolonging the exploration of ecological issues and the question of humans’ relationship to nature, which has been a regular theme in the Fondation Cartier’s exhibition program, as was the case recently with The Great Animal Orchestra (2016). 

Featuring drawings, paintings, photographs, films, and installations by artists from Latin America, Europe, the United States, Iran, and from indigenous communities such as the Nivacle and Guaraní from Gran Chaco, Paraguay, as well as the Yanomami Indians who live in the heart of the Amazonian forest, the exhibit, punctuated by several large ensembles, explores three narrative threads. Firstly, our knowledge of trees - from botany to new plant biology -; secondly, aesthetics - from naturalistic contemplation to dreamlike transposition -; and lastly, trees’ current devastation recounted via documentary observations and pictorial testimonies. 

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Orchestrated with anthropologist Bruce Albert, who has accompanied the Fondation Cartier’s inquisitive exploration of such themes since the exhibition Yanomami, Spirit of the Forest (2003), the project revolves around a number of individuals who have developed a unique relationship with trees, whether intellectual, scientific or aesthetic.

Read more about the exhibition in our latest December/Jaunary L'Officiel Femmes issue.

Going to Paris this month? Well, we suggest you do not miss the exhibition “Nous les Arbres“ (TREES) running at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain (Cartier Foundation) until January 5th, 2020.

Raymond Depardon Le chêne de Venon, Isère, France, 2019 Photographies prises par Raymond Depardon lors du tournage du film Mon Arbre, réalisé pour l’exposition Nous les Arbres © Raymond Depardon

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