While Lorenzo Barone, a musician and art historian, lives and works in France these days, he originally hails from the fabulous city of Milan. Which is probably why he always made me feel so un-chic by comparison when we studied together in Paris. Lorenzo was also a student at the Paris School of Arts and Culture, pursuing a master’s degree in art history with a focus on modernism and post-modernism. These days, he is an assistant at the very au courant Galerie Perrotin à Paris.
Not only does Barone work with physical art each day, he is also an artist in his own right, interested in rap and spoken word. He considers his musical productions to be a contemporary form of poetry and works hard to capture a mood through sound.
I wanted to speak with Barone because he is a young person working in the world of contemporary art. He has his pulse on the now, the cutting edge of art, and always brings a humorous perspective to things!
So, thanks for agreeing to speak with me Lorenzo!
L. Barone: Thank you for inviting me to be part of your blog!
Can you tell us a little bit about your day-to-day work at Perrotin?
LB: I am an intern at Perrotin, which is a huge and prestigious gallery, therefore the work is unpredictable. Every day is different. Besides the usual intern work (the mail, and other archiving), I help my supervisor to draft selling proposals, create certificates of authenticity, research our artists and create documents for them, or conduct research for other organizations that ask us for information about the artists we represent. In addition, sometimes I have to examine artworks in order to see if they have problems, or if they can be exhibited immediately. I also help with the organization of some events, and sometimes with the direct relationships with the artists.
What are some upcoming shows the gallery is putting together? What artists are you excited to exhibit?
LB: The next artist that we will exhibit in Paris will be Daniel Arsham (in January), whose aesthetics revolve around his concept of fictional archeology. But, right now, we have quite a lot of exhibitions happening all around the world (Perrotin has many locations): Takashi Murakami, Park-So-Bo, Josh Sperling, Gabriel De la Mora here in Paris, Lee Bae in New York and Jean-Michel Othoniel in Shanghai. Personally, I am really excited to have discovered De la Mora’s artworks, whose concepts about the echo, the difference in resemblance, really speak to me.
What do you think makes the Paris gallery scene so important?
LB: Instead of important, I would say more established. The Paris scene, as well as the artists who exhibit here, are extremely well-known. It is really different than, for example, the asian market, which it is more recent and fresh, more open to innovation in some cases. I just came back from a trip to Tokyo and I saw some really futuristic exhibitions. I would also like to come to New York to breathe the ‘artistic-air!’
Who is your favorite artist of all time (if you say da Vinci I will accuse you of bias!)? Are there any contemporary artists you keep tabs on?
LB: I hate to disappoint you, but it is not da Vinci but Caravaggio, another Italian (laughs)! In my opinion, he is invincible.
Anyway, I can tell you that one who I appreciate at the same level is Basquiat. He could express his inner world at such a depth that penetrates you and makes your inner self beat at the same rhythm. There are some contemporary artists who I consider original and creative, which is, in my opinion, extremely difficult in this current period of (basically) commercialized art. Expressing creativity and being an Artist, with a capital ‘A,’ is very rare. I went to an art fair recently and saw some interesting artists, whose works were innovative, diverse, and raw. I really enjoyed one artist in particular who makes highway panels against Islamophobia. I think that is a genius idea, employs a universal language, and is a courageous concept.
What do you think makes a work of art timeless? What are qualities of ‘good’ art?
LB: Art, as you know, is subjective. In my opinion, some artworks do have objective, stunning qualities. For me, a ‘good’ art piece is sexual; its components have to penetrate me mentally and physically. Art is politically incorrect, provocative, unclear, but simultaneously, what is timeless is that universally understandable characteristic. Ninety percent of what we look at everyday is something that we will not remember in one year’s time; the memories and photos of which will cover the bottom of our trash-bin. I still think that art is somehow connected with beauty. What will remain in 2000 years will not be our ideas and concepts, which will be outdated, but the Colosseum; in one word: beauty.
You are also a musician who writes and produces your own music. How does your environment — the city of Paris — contribute to the feel of your songs?
LB: Paris is a city that gives and also demands. It demands a lot of dedication to follow her, but once you get lost in her streets, you are instantaneously given a unique sensation, which for me starts as a word, then morphs into a rhyme. I made a small, home-made project this year, which I published on YouTube, that I wrote here in Paris. There are a lot of references to feelings that I felt at different times throughout the city. I think that a city is made up in part of buildings, but mostly it is made by the people. Despite the weather, which sucks, Paris gives me the sensation that I am still a foreigner, and I still have to make some effort to catch everything. If you have the opportunity to walk the city by foot in the dead of night, that is an experience, just watching the city awakening.
Ok, now the most important question: Italy or France? And why? 😉
LB: Italy is the best country in the world, without exception. I can’t express in words the feeling of being in Italy. It is a specific feeling of warmth from the people, as well as the varied size of the cities and different landscapes. I will not speak about food and language, it would be too “easy money” (laughs)! Unfortunately, in this specific moment, it is really difficult to live there. Instead, France is a great and beautiful place that gives you opportunities; it is made for this purpose. It is not a coincidence that the greatest artists and writers of the 1900’s lived and made great pieces here. Also, here I have my girlfriend and my job, but it will never be home.
You heard it here folks, Viva Italia!