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Ambroise Vollard, Leo Castelli and Denise René exemplify the way gallery owners can become such legendary figures that they remain forever fixed, like silhouettes or archetypes. With Christian Berst, the first contemporary Art Brut dealer in Paris, this tendency is particularly acute, as he works in an area where biography plays such a problematic role.

In his very nature, the outsider artist is so strongly defined by the circumstances of his life that the layman is quick to reduce his work to it. For some artists, catastrophe struck on the dark night they were conceived; for others, childhood dramas were the site of misdirections; for others still, the stirrings of adulthood and maturity were marked by an equivocal disengagement. Finally, some artists seem perfectly well-adjusted during the day, but invite the monsters of irrationality in at night.

In the best-case scenario, we know nothing about the life of the artist, and can happily explore his works, looking for suggestive clues. In Christian Berst’s case, I have never heard his life story, and I have simply looked for clues as to what drives his passion, his individuality, his centrality to the landscape of contemporary art.

Reconstruction #1: the office

Every gallery owner is a puzzle, and this essential piece is a place only close friends and insiders can enter. Between the fundamentals (a handful of works whose presence is considered vital), new finds, rare objects, the mess on the worktable and the books kept within arm’s reach, the office is an outward projection of the mental world of the gallery owner. Any visit to a gallery should start there ; this is what I offer you, as a way of developing and contrasting what you see in the main exhibition space.

Reconstruction #2: the bookshop

Linking the work we see with what we can’t see, it reveals an abundance of editorial output. Beyond that, it is also the site for displaying contrasting works of art, giving a subtle yet critical conclusion to the current exhibition. It shows, above all, what is at the heart of Christian Berst’s relationship to art: his love of dialogue between different fields of creativity.

This space will be used to exhibit the works of three contemporary artists, whose creations ask us, in different ways, to reconsider our boundaries.

Reconstruction #3: the round table

The organization of round tables, another “area of expertise” of the gallery, is just as useful for shaping the semantic fields that allow us to understand the place of outsider art within the wider field of contemporary art, as it is for announcing “openings.” The conference with Christian Boltanski, organized in 2011, was a turning point for the perception of the gallery. For its anniversary, Christian Berst’s office has been transformed into a metaphorical round table, with its space devoted to a contemporary installation of Annette Messager’s works, which echo his own preoccupations.

Exhibition view of *PreTENse*, christian berst art brut, Paris, 2015 - © ©christian berst art brut, christian berst — art brut
Exhibition view of *PreTENse*, christian berst art brut, Paris, 2015 - © ©christian berst art brut, christian berst — art brut
Exhibition view of *PreTENse*, christian berst art brut, Paris, 2015 - © ©christian berst art brut, christian berst — art brut
Artists
portrait de didier amblard - © christian berst — art brut
Didier Amblard
portrait de Beverly Baker - © christian berst — art brut
Beverly Baker
portrait - © christian berst — art brut
Joseph Barbiero
portrait of éric benetto - © christian berst — art brut
Eric Benetto
untitled, 1966. indian ink on paper, 9.45 x 12.56 in - © christian berst — art brut
Thérèse Bonnelalbay
portrait of giovanni bosco - © christian berst — art brut
Giovanni Bosco
portrait - © christian berst — art brut
Anibal Brizuela
Raimundo Camilo - © christian berst — art brut
Raimundo Camilo
portrait of misleidys castillo pedroso - © christian berst — art brut
Misleidys Francisca Castillo Pedroso
portrait of Rosa Cazhur - © © christian berst art brut, christian berst — art brut
Rosa Cazhur
Fernand Desmoulin - © christian berst — art brut
Fernand Desmoulin
portrait of john devlin - © christian berst — art brut
John Devlin
Janko Domsic - © christian berst — art brut
Janko Domsic
portrait of pepe gaitàn - © christian berst — art brut
Pepe Gaitán
portrait of jill gallieni - © christian berst — art brut
Jill Gallieni
Alexandro Garcia - © christian berst — art brut
Alexandro Garcia
Ousseynou Gassama - © christian berst — art brut
Ousseynou Gassama
Madge Gill - © christian berst — art brut
Madge Gill
portrait of joaquim vicens gironella - © christian berst — art brut
Joaquim Vicens Gironella
guo fengyi drawing - © christian berst — art brut
Fengyi Guo
josef hofer drawing - © © florian moser, christian berst — art brut
Josef Hofer
Peter Kapeller - © Photo : Florian Reese, christian berst — art brut
Peter Kapeller
john uro kemp - © anonymous, christian berst — art brut
John Urho Kemp
portrait - © Mario del Curto, christian berst — art brut
Zdenek Košek
Alexandre Lobanov - © christian berst — art brut
Alexandre Lobanov
portrait of raphaël lonné - © christian berst — art brut
Raphaël Lonné
portrait of dwight mackintosh - © christian berst — art brut
Dwight Mackintosh
David Marshall - © christian berst — art brut
David Marshall
kunizo matsumoto - © christian berst — art brut
Kunizo Matsumoto
portrait of dan miller - © creative growth art center, christian berst — art brut
Dan Miller
Edmund Monsiel - © christian berst — art brut
Edmund Monsiel
portrait of oscar morales - © christian berst — art brut
Oscar Morales
Albert Moser - © christian berst — art brut
Albert Moser
Michel Nedjar in his workshop - © christian berst — art brut
Michel Nedjar
Marilena Pelosi - © christian berst — art brut
Marilena Pelosi
portrait of Lubos Plny - © © christian berst art brut, christian berst — art brut
Luboš Plný
andré robillard - © christian berst — art brut
André Robillard
yuichi saito - © yamanami, christian berst — art brut
Yuichi Saito
patricia salen - © christian berst — art brut
Patricia Salen
Philipp Schopke - © Gugging, photo : Martin Vukovits, christian berst — art brut
Philipp Schopke
friedrich schröder-sonnenstern - © photo: dietmar bührer, christian berst — art brut
Friedrich Schröder-Sonnenstern
harald stoffers - © christian berst — art brut
Harald Stoffers
ionel talpazan - © christian berst — art brut
Ionel Talpazan
Miroslav Tichy - © christian berst — art brut
Miroslav Tichy
august walla - © mario del curto, christian berst — art brut
August Walla
melvin way - © christian berst — art brut
Melvin Way
anna zemankova - © christian berst — art brut
Anna Zemankova
henriette zéphir - © christian berst — art brut
Henriette Zephir
carlo zinelli - © christian berst — art brut
Carlo Zinelli
Press review
La galerie Christian Berst fête son dixième anniversaire
Roxana Azimi, Le Quotidien De L’art. October 6, 2015.
Récompense un dimanche à la galerie
La Rédaction, Libération. October 5, 2015.
interview christian berst (at 10’50)
Frédéric Taddeï, Europe 1 Social Club. September 16, 2015.
Passage pas sage mais qui se cache sous cet événement ?
La Rédaction, FOMO. September 15, 2015.
Chercheurs d’Art: La Galerie d’art Brut Christian Berst fête ses 10 ans (vers 5’55)
BFM Business TV. September 10, 2015.
View more
soit 10 ans, états intérieurs
Bénédicte Philippe, Télérama Sortir N°3426. September 10, 2015.
PreTENse

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