Are you modern?

Since 2009, the Seine-Saint-Denis County Council has been backing “la Culture et l’Art au Collège (CAC)”. This project is based to a large extent on the presence in class for several weeks (40h) of an artist or scientist whose mission is to engage the students in a process of research and creation. 


Tutors: Sandrine Hyacinthe, Claire Garcia, Marie Vicet, Roberta Trapani/ PhD students in art history, Camille Feurer/ PhD student in art history and sociology

Project manager: Anna Mezey


Art historians claim that artists in the modern movement can be recognised by the fact that they broke with everything that went before them. But isn’t that what art is really about? In this project the pupils are encouraged to relive this historical period, not only to analyse it but also to experience the power of the works it produced.
In partnership with the Georges Pompidou Centre, Modern Art Museum.

The class approached the idea of modernity through the life, but more importantly through the work, of Marcel Duchamp. Short texts by Duchamp about ready-mades and the artist’s creative process were read out and discussed in class. This first session was a sort of “intellectual encounter” between the class and the artist before the pupils were able to cite any of his works. The idea was to explain the prejudices that people inevitably expressed when they saw the ready-mades.

Looking at modern art
The partnership with the Pompidou Centre permitted the workshop to alternate class sessions with visits to the museum to study the works in the permanent collection, particularly the new hanging “Strands of Modernity”. Much of the work was done in the gallery, taking a comparative approach. The pupils apprehended modernity as Duchamp expressed it, through the principle and concept of the ready-made. In the last session, broadening the field to include post-1945 artists, the pupils were able to see the persistence of types of Duchampian modernity and to measure the artist’s influence on recent productions.

Production of a set of 10 full-colour A0 posters (80x120), presenting the pupils’ comments on their study of modernity, especially the art and theories of Marcel Duchamp.
The classes displayed the posters in their respective schools.

Acknowledgements: Benjamin Simon, Nathalie Vaguer and Claire Cousin/ Centre Pompidou.


Outings (selection):

- Class (6th SEGPA) Collège Jean-Zay, Bondy
- Class (5th SEGPA) Collège Maximilien-Robespierre, Épinay-sur-Seine
- Class (4th SEGPA) Collège Sémard, Drancy
- Class (3rd) Collège Henri IV, Vaujours
- Class (3rd) Collège Jacques-Jorissen, Drancy


Graphic designer: BIBLIS DUROUX

Are you modern?
Are you modern?
Are you modern?