Carl Jung’s “Red Book”
Given that I am a disciple of Carl Jung, I can’t tell you how powerful it was to see his drawing on display in the center pavilion, and his much-coveted Red Book that has not been out of the vaults for decades was on display. Legend has it that when Jung was suffering from a extreme neurosis, he would withdraw to his tower in his estate and spend hours drawing symbols and images that bubbled up to his consciousness. The work was both beautiful and cathartic. A gallerist had asked if he wanted to ever sell his works, but he refused, saying that the intent for his art was healing and not commercial. The stunning works were al in the infamous red, leather-bound book and it serves as some of the most archetypical pictures on the collective human psyche. The book has been locked in the family vaults for decades, rarely to be seen by anyone. Here were Carl Jung’s art on full display and the glorious book in a temperature controlled glass case for all to view.
Carl Jung’s “Red Book”
To me the whole question of what is art, who is considered an artist was the most thought provoking. There was a miner who claimed that a voice told him one day to make art. He headed that voice and spent hours making intricate designs that were simply breathtaking. He would often sit 20 hours at a time and claimed that his work was effortless since the hand of God was working through him. He also never sold those sublime colorful grids but wanted to be “in communion with the vibrations of his color.
Other examples of lay people who have taken art seriously was on display: a social worker who dealt with the restrictions of education and the prison system, blind people, who did not have a sense of space and proportion, a dental hygienist and a woman who through meditation created what looks like the typical drawings of the cosmos and chakras when she was not truly aware of such notions. How wonderful and liberating it was to celebrate art for arts sake and to celebrate ordinary people who also turned out exquisite pieces of work!
The Russian and British Pavilion in particular were also great. And Ai Weiwei’s installation in the French Pavilion was another showstopper.
Artwork installation by Ai Wei Wei
Of course, Mr. Arnault had the good sense and taste of wrapping the entirety of his Pallazo Grassi, wall to wall, floor to ceiling with Persian tribal carpeting courtesy of Rudolph Stingel. But really, after going through the 20th room in the palazzo you got tired of the same thing.
Pallazo Grassi carpeting by Rudolph Stingel
The most surreal was Prada Foundation’s exhibition of “When Ideas become Form”—a rather menacing “muahahaha” voice blared throughout the palazzo and then there was this hysterical cry of a baby. (Maybe babies cannot be called hysterical because they have a right to cry)
That is the funny thing about exhibitions; you never know what is real and what is not! Obviously I knew that the Prada-clan doormen would never let in a certified lunatic so the real question was if there was a real baby in the exhibition? That was a recording too.
But joking aside, I came to understand that the seminal 1969 show that re-created tried to show that process of art was as important as the product itself—or perhaps no product at all. A revolutionary thing at the time that filled in the gap between what we are conditioned to appreciate and what the essence and possibilities of art could be
The only funny thing is that just as I left the Palazzo door, there was a screaming baby in the arms of a helpless dad as well. At that very threshold was the display of life imitating art!