Traces - Isabelle and Jean-Conrad Lemaitre's Video Collection

Traces - Isabelle and Jean-Conrad Lemaitre's Video Collection

Traces is a collection that consists mainly of recent videos and films made by young artists from more than 20 different countries that address the world we live in, humanity in transformation, the limits of our socio-political systems, and contemporary language imagery in relation to fictional cinema, documentary video and television.

Unlike museum collections with their historical, educational and multi-disciplinary foundations, unlike American private collections whose purchases are often tied to market considerations, and unlike other European collections based on common convictions, the Lemaître collection is based on the passionate study of emerging artists discovered at international exhibitions.

For these two collectors, the choice of video as a medium was a fusion of their passions: one for cinema, and the other for contemporary art. Each encounter with an artwork is also an encounter with an artist, an expression, a desire and a vision.

This exhibition also highlights the work of passionate collectors. How to put together a collection that has no obvious point of contact with the art market – particularly the Chinese market – will be the subject of conferences linked the exhibition.

“Video is a medium of our time and we want our collection to reflect our times. The medium also has great potential for exploration and development, and we want to be part of this adventure. Video art gives viewers access to the roles of readers, observers and interpreters, and we like to feel that as spectators we are mature viewers. Video art requires time, concentration and peace. It offers a healthy attitude to art for our “remote control” society where people no longer take the time to look.”


Comments by Jean-Conrad Lemaître 


By Dominique Gonzales Foerster
Born 30th June 1965 in Strasbourg
Lives in Paris and Rio de Janeiro
Graduate of the Superior Art School of Greno

“Like all the works that enter our collection, this acquisition came about as a result of a little “crush”. We like it because it speaks about the passage of time, about things both ephemeral and permanent (teenager’s telephone conversations and urban landscapes). Its poetry and slow rhythm give one impression of being cradled.”


Fredi the Fly

By Moussa Sarr
Born in Ajaccio in 1984
Lives and works in Paris
Graduate of the Le Fresnoy National Studio of Contemporary Arts

“We loved this video – a real tour-de-force performance video. Sarr goes far beyond the problems generally associated with self-portraits to tackle questions about stereotypes and racial and social prejudices. For us, he’s like a Lafontaine with video. Both amusing and profound.”


Un hombre que camina

By Enrique Ramirez
Born in 1979 in Santiago, Chile
Graduate of the Le Fresnoy National Studio of Contemporary Arts

“Our affection for this artist dates back to the time when my wife was on the Fresnoy jury. She found his video, Brises, remarkable. She called me up, and I told the Fresnoy right away that I would buy it. Since then, we have acquired Un hombre que camina and Cruzar un muro. What do we like about his work? It’s this sensation of existing in another world.
In Un hombre que camina, we find an imaginary man walking in a place 1,500 metres above sea level. The man represents both the unknown and the uncertain journey between life and death. He exists in a dream state within an unknown landscape where the earth merges with the sky. A series of sublime, bewitching images, a right of passage… Enrique leads us into an un-real, silent world – a space in which to meditate.”


By Maïder Fortune
Lives and works in Paris

“We loved this work that made us dream, somewhat nostalgically, about characters from our childhood. It’s a beautiful approach to work with images and audio. The video stays long in the memory. It holds you right to the end and projects an enormous sensitivity.”


About Isabelle and Jean-Conrad Lemaître

The French couple started collecting art in the 1970s, and collecting video in 1996. Within a few years, they had built one of the finest video collections in the world. In 2007, Isabelle established the Studio Collector video prize in collaboration with the Fresnoy National Studio of Contemporary Arts, while Jean-Conrad is a patron of the Tate Gallery in London. Both are on the committee for Barcelona’s LOOP video art festival.






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