1988, artworks from the Collection Lambert

19.05 – 05.09.2021

Second part of the Playground Program

On Kawara, Oct.12, 1988, 1988

Collection privée, Paris / Dépôt à la Collection Lambert, Avignon – © Estate of On Kawara



The works presented in this second exhibition of the Playgroundprogram, dedicated to artwork held in the Collection Lambert, have one thing in common: they were created in 1988. Though the choice of this particular date might be arbitrary, it raises a series of issues. Some of which are connected to the creation of an art collection – in a particular that of a dealer-collector, others to existing and emerging scenes in a determined temporal space, or others to the memory of the period and the events that the artworks carry with them, to the links they have with the society in which they are conceived and developed, at our sides. 

The two Date Paintingsby On Kawara are in themselves evidence of the physical and emotional existence of an artist at the moment of their creation. They are two slices of time, to which personal or collective elements of our shared lives attach themselves. They are the expression of a memory that could only be punctuated by certain dates saved from oblivion, revived on a museum wall in a manner that is as abrupt as it is poetic. 

1988 is without doubt one of the dates that crops up most frequently in the professional life of Yvon Lambert, as it was the year of the unforgettable exhibition of Jean-Michel Basquiat in his Parisian gallery – the first in France for which the artist produced specific new work – and the year that this same artist, who Rene Ricard named The Radiant Child, died aged 27. The year symbolises a pivotal time in which painting made a comeback from the world of the dead, where, in Europe as in the US, it had been too rapidly relegated by some, as Robert Combas and Loïc Le Groumellec bear witness. 

Also in 1988, a certain type of photography definitively took up residence in the world of art, through the work of men and women who define themselves artists – such as Andres Serrano, Louise Lawler or Louis Jammes – using the medium that they consider the most adept in questioning our relationship with images in an ultra-mediatised society. 

And 1988 was certainly still an active period for artists from the 1960s avant-garde scenes – minimalism, conceptual art, land art – such as Sol LeWitt, Joseph Kosuth, or Jonathan Borofsky, thus proving that it is useless to insist upon viewing art history through a uniquely linear form in which one movement successively gives way to another. It is much more interesting to observe new scenes emerging and coexisting alongside the action of older ones, whether by rupture, reappropriation, inspiration, or dialogue. 

The artists:

Jean-Michel Basquiat, Jean-Charles Blais, Jonathan Borofsky, Robert Combas, Federico Guzmán, Louis Jammes, On Kawara, Anselm Kiefer, Joseph Kosuth, Louise Lawler, Loïc Le Groumellec, Sol LeWitt, Kay Rosen

About the Playground Program

In the text he wrote for the inauguration of the Collection Lambert in 2000, Alfred Pacquement evoked the notion of a ‘still alive’ collection, in reference to the famous telegrams sent by On Kawara to figures in the art world. He talked about a collection that remained alive, permanently questioning the contemporary world, and standing against the test of time by refusing the morbidity inherent in museumification. 

Echoing this idea, Playgroundoffers an experimental and playful program providing different ways to envisage the exhibition of a collection. Referring to certain radical forms of exhibition practice from the 1980s, we will explore the idea that new perceptual relationships and new understandings can emerge from the arbitrariness of unhabitual and sometimes absurd parameters, and we propose to share a very much ‘still alive’ collection!

[The Playlist of the curator]