Jean Schwind, ‘Schwind Foundation Catalogue’
Published by Schwind Foundation
64 pages, 30,5 x 23,5 cm, paperback, Nederlands/Engels/Frans
Schwind Foundation is published on the ocasion of the first retrospective of Jean Schwind (1935-1985), the one and only important Belgian appropriation artist. In the spirit of Schwind who owes his fame to appropriations of Christo, Fontana and other famous artists, the present publication has been conceived as a pastiche of a famous catalogue of Marcel Broodthaers from 1974.
At the beginning of the 1970s, the heyday of tame conceptual art, Schwind (pseudonyme of Jean Warie) took it on himself to clandestinely act to demolish the very foundations of the art world. He wipes the floor with the notion of the ‘original status of art work’ and the idea of ‘the artist’s special genius’. Schwind is the true heir to dada’s destructive spirit. The exhibition evokes his short but intense career: pastiches of works from famous fellow-artists, assemblages in the national tricolor, photographic works and documents. With this first retrospective, the S.M.A.K. in Ghent brings the bad boy of Belgian art back to center-stage, and this in his native town.
Jean Warie studied Romance Philology at Ghent University and from 1966 to 1972 was an academic assistant there. After this stint, he worked as an editor for a publisher of art books. He entered the art scene in 1969 with the exhibition Schwind at the Brussels gallery Fitzroy, of which he was a co-founder. The following year – at a time when governmental censorship was in its heyday – he presented a one-night-only exhibition of brutal, large-format erotic drawings reminiscent of both Dubuffet and graffiti. With the presentation in 1971 of the Collection Schwind – a collection of pastiches of the nouveaux réalistes – he demonstrated just how thoroughly his work differed from other new art. The fact that nearly no-one knew who was behind the pseudonym, only deepened the confusion. He expanded the ‘anti-collection’ into the Schwind Foundation and made dozens of pastiches of other well-known art that he termed hommages or appropriations, including arte povera works and pieces from Christo, Fontana and Broodthaers. In line with the procedures of conceptual art, he destroyed the majority of his appropriations and only retained photographs and descriptions of them, which in turn themselves functioned as art works. He continued with his Occupations and Sealings of galleries that he had begun in 1970. In 1974, in Antwerp and Bruges, he took part in major survey-exhibitions of contemporary art. With a fictitious death announcement, in May 1976, he drew a final line under his artistic practice.