While Henri Foucault (b. 1954) trained as a sculptor at the Ecole nationale supérieure des beaux arts in Paris, he has become famous for his photography. This is in part because he uses photography as a medium for sculpture.
Foucault gives volume and shape to his photographs using traditional sculptural techniques: adding or subtracting material. Over the years and the series, he experimented various treatments of the prints. He can perforate some photos, cut into them, sometime adding others underneath to create a moiré effect.
He also underscores forms in the prints with intricately inserted pins or carefully-mounted Swarowski crystals. The reflection of the light in the head of pins and the crystals create another play with volume and movement.
His favorite inspiration is the human form, and especially the moving body, the body of dance. His works are multidimensional and unreproducible. Foucault often uses solarization, making each photo unique and true of works of art.
In his large atelier just outside of Paris, he makes monumental pieces like the 25m installation realised for the Venice Biennale in 2005. It illustrates bodies either falling or floating, depending on your perspective. Foucault was honoured with a retrospective at Monnaie de Paris in 2008.
Let us know if you're planning to acquire a work by Henri -- you all have his card so you are welcome to contact him directly and we're happy to go back with you if you'd like advice on which work to buy.
Buying in the atelier
Before you go
The first question is always, how do I get invited to an atelier?
Well, ask your art advisor if you have one, if he or she has access to any artists’ ateliers, or suggest names of contemporary artists you’d like to meet. You may know or meet artists, and by all means ask if they’re interested in a visit.
You should know when you visit an atelier that the artist has likely spent considerable time tidying and preparing for your visit, hanging and organizing works. So be mindful that not only have they spent time in advance of your visit, but you’re cutting into their working time.
Also know that some ateliers get quite chilly during the winter -- dress appropriately!
If you want to buy something you see at the atelier, here’s what you need to know:
If the artist is represented by a gallery:
- the gallery is usually representing the whole work of an artist, even what is still at the atelier and even if the sale is happening totally without its intervention. Then, you can see the various pieces and then proceed by buying and paying through the gallery (which will take the usual 50% of the price).
- It could occur that the artist and his gallery have an agreement only on few pieces or a particular series only, then you can buy directly from the artist as the work is outside of the gallery’s agreement. Expect lower prices in this case.
If the artist does not have gallery representation:
- She or he is the only one in charge of discussing the price and the way of payment. Be ready to face such problems as: unset prices, lack of will to sell, etc. It is easier to manage once you develop your buying experience.
If you have an art advisor:
- If you don’t have your art advisor on retainer (meaning paying on a monthly or percentage basis), he/she will or negotiate his/her commission with the gallery or add it to the artist’s price if the artist is unrepresented.
Reminder: if you are buying as a foreigner for delivery outside of France, you shouldn’t pay the French VAT.