Highlights from the Arts & Cultural Management Business Tour in Lyon

Highlights from the Arts & Cultural Management Business Tour in Lyon

Our MSc students from the visual arts track of the Arts and Cultural Management program went to Lyon to attend the 14th Contemporary Art Biennial to better understand the influence and impact of such international exhibitions on the global art market, local tourism, and advancement of participating curators and artists alike. Students took away from this experience an appreciation for the complexity of curating an international exhibition, an awareness of the global current trends in contemporary art, and the current context of the contemporary art biennials in Europe.
This year’s biennial was titled Floating Worlds and was the second Lyon biennial to focus on the keyword “modern”. The exhibition featured masterpieces from the collection of the Centre Pompidou to mark the institution's 40th anniversary and was curated by Emma Lavigne, who has been director of the Centre Pompidou-Metz since 2008.
The first visit of the tour was to the contemporary art museum, macLYON. Here students experienced masterpieces by celebrated artists such as Marcel Duchamp and Alexander Calder, alongside more recent works by artists like Jill Magid, Cerith Wyn Evans, and Ernesto Neto. Throughout the three floors of exhibition space, students were invited to contemplate how the artist and artwork selections contributed to the overall theme of the biennial and reflect on the intention of the curator.
The second day of the trip continued by heading down by the old docks to the famous Sucrière building to further explore this sprawling exhibition. Highlights of the Sucrière included Doug Aitken’s Sonic Fountain II (2013-17), Susanna Fritscher’s Helices soniques / Flüegel, Klingen (2017). These large sculptural installations, which include movement and sound, create for visitors an experience “as if they were going through an experimental, sensory landscape” according to curator Emma Lavigne. In the afternoon the group visited an exhibition tangential to the main biennial, Lee Mingwei’s Seven Stories at the Fondation Bullukian. Here students were invited to engage in the conceptual and theoretical framework of new projects created by Mingwei for the occasion.
The morning of the third day was spent enriching students’ understanding of the art historical context from which modern art originates at the Musée des Beaux-Arts de Lyon. Subsequently, the group ventured into the countryside to witness a unique synthesis of modern and contemporary aesthetics at an exhibition of works by Lee Ufan installed in the Convent of La Tourette, built by Le Corbusier in the 1950s. Resident of this still operational convent, Brother Marc Chauveau, writes, “The aim is to foster a fruitful dialogue between architectural heritage and contemporary creation.”
The fourth and final day of the tour students attended one final venue of the biennial, the Institut d'Art Contemporain, which specifically featured works by young international artists. The remainder of the day students discovered the unique offerings of Lyon at their own pace, including the stunning silks at the Musée des Tissus et des Arts Décoratifs, the charming streets remnant of the renaissance era in Vieux-Lyon, and numerous independent galleries.
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