Bertrand Lavier's work challenges a viewer's expectations through a considered, often humorous juxtaposition of apparently unrelated elements and ideas. By combining categories, techniques and visual references, he creates a body of work that's as diverse as it is expansive. He began his career as an artist in the late 1960s, shortly after his horticultural training at Versailles. If Lavier incorporated anything from his studies into his artistic practice, it is his focus on combination, mutation and grafting. Whether mounting a safe on top of a refrigerator or gilding an African sculpture, transforming it into a gaudy token decoration, Lavier derives his ability to provoke (critical thought, laughter, reflection) from a pointedly chosen, yet often unexpected composite of elements--the common ground shared between the artist and the scientist.
In his series of prints Walt Disney Productions, 1947-2008, Lavier blew up representations of modern art that appeared Walt Disney's Mickey Mouse cartoons in the 1940s and imagined them presented earnestly in classical white-walled exhibition spaces. These Brancusi-esque figures, with their simple, round, nondescript forms, were intended simply as formal stand-ins that would communicate the most typical, recognizable characteristics of modern sculpture to a mass audience. What was once meant to merely signify art in a children's cartoon now, through Lavier's presentation and recontextualization, actually becomes art. Was this art before the artist's intervention? With a clever wit, Lavier raises some of the most fundamental questions about creativity itself. This provocative irony characterizes his body of work and reveals a sense of humor that runs alongside his theoretically rigorous practice. It invites an audience to look, to grin, to question.
Bertrand Lavier was born in 1949 in Châtillon-sur-Seine, France. He currently lives and works in Paris and Aignay-le-Duc. His wide-ranging body of work has been exhibited widely throughout Europe and the United States, including the Centre Georges Pompidou in 2012, Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris and MoMA's PS1 in New York, among many others.-> See the works