A Modern Adventure, the Renault Art Collection Exhibition

Opening time:
Duration: 2015.12.13 -- 2016.02.29
Location: 1、2/F Exhibition Hall of Building 2,Today Art Museum

Exhibition Preface

Started in 1967, Renault’s modern art collection comprises around 300 works by some thirty leading artists, including Arman, Dubuffet, Tinguely and Vasarely. 

The Renault Collection was based on an unusual approach at the time. Unlike a conventional corporate sponsorship, it did not seek to purchase completed works of art. The project pursued by the firm between 1967 and 1985 was both more ambitious and more pragmatic in its aims. It sought to foster active cooperation between innovating artists and Renault, a company created in 1898, that was an industrial powerhouse in a country in the throes of sweeping changes.

Renault provided the artists with technical, logistic and human support. The adventure started with Arman, whose work was based on objects taken from everyday life. He immediately agreed to come and work at the Renault plant.  Visiting the factories and worshops, he discovered new shapes and materials.

This life-size artistic workshop paved the way for other fruitful and unexpected collaborative partnerships: Vasarely required expert input from Renault engineers on his technical questions, while Dubuffet, Rauschenberg and Tinguely found inspiration for their ironic comments on industrial society.

Although the artists who contributed to the Collection enjoy global renown today, this was not necessarily the case when they worked with Renault. This shows just how bold the project was. It made Renault a pioneer in corporate sponsorship rather than just another art collector.  Today, the public can enjoy viewing the Collection through exhibitions and loans, in the Ateliers Renault, as well as in the world’s greatest museums.

As a result of the unusual genesis of the Renault collection, and of the partnerships between the Group and the artists, an agreement was made by which the works made with Renault are inalienable: they cannot be sold, gifted or given away. The collection is preserved for future generations and is a part of the history of the Renault Group. 

The exhibition in China will showcase over 100 major works and span 60 years from the mid-60s to the present time, recounting, with this rich selection, the unique history of one of the main French industrial firms, the Renault Automobile company with contemporary art. 

The exhibition occupies 2 floors of the central building of the Today Art Museum. 
The first floor is devoted to the art works that explicitly show their relation with the industrial world. 

In the entrance hall, 3 imposing sculptures by cross-generation celebrated artists the Swiss Jean Tinguely and the French Jean-luc Moulène: Tinguely’s ironical “crazy” mechanical machines from the 60s and Moulène’s glossy high tech bird-car created in 2011. A car-shaped painting of Jean Dubuffet and 5 works on paper by Tinguely complete this firsts space. 

Once passed the entrance hall, the main space opens up first to paintings by contemporary masters such as American Robert Rauschenberg, Chilian Roberto Matta, Belgian Pierre Alechinsky, Icelandic-French Erro  whose works present very different painterly interpretations of the relationship between art and modern industrialized life. The young Chinese artists He An and Wen Fang along with British artist Angela Palmer offer a dynamic counterpoint to paintings with their sculptures on the floor or on the wall. In the spaces at the end one enters a world of unstable reality with vibrant and optical sculptures and paintings by Greek Takis, Argentinian Le Parc, French Arman and Venezuelan Soto. 

The second floor, accessed by the stairs leading to its middle space is logically divided in 2 sections: the entirety of the left section (facing the visitor walking up the stairs) is devoted to the historical late 20th century artist Jean Dubuffet and his fantasy world of the Hourloupe. The artist wanted to create a kind of painting that was environmental, that the viewer could physically experience. The “alternative universe” of his vast jagged-edged paintings of the “Roman Burlesque” is recreated here with 20 grand format works for the viewer to peruse in. 

The right section is devoted to varied experiences in abstraction: from Victor Vasarely’s “cinetic” vibrant geometric paintings of the 50s and70s through Turkish Arslan Sukan’s and Emirati Ebtisam Abdulaziz’s subtle minimal abstract works of 2013 about space and place, then the specific world somewhere between signs and forms of Belgian poet and painter Henri Michaux’s abstractions of 1967 to 1984 and closing with American Sam Francis’s grand abstract expressionist painting of 1980.

The center space that defines these two sections is mastered by imposing black and white figures facing each other:  the group of Dubuffet ‘s shaped paintings Three figures,  Joan Mirò’s  wash on paper “Woman, bird” of 1979 and Niki de Saint-Phalle’s White Goddess assemblage sculpture of 1963.


Ann Hindry


Pierre Alechinsky, Robert Rauschenberg, Victor Vasarely, Erro, Jean Dubuffet, Arman, Jean Tinguely, Jesus Rafael Soto, Takis, Henri Michaux, Arslan Sukan, Roberto Matta, Robert Doisneau, Niki de Saint Phalle, Joan Mirò, Ebtisam Abdulaziz, Wen Fang, Angela Palmer, Julio Le Parc, Jean-Luc Moulène, Sam Francis, He An