Last night, art dealer Thaddaeus Ropac, stood before a white architectural model on the top floor of the French Institute Alliance Française on East 60th Street, and presented his gallery’s sprawling new space in Pantin, in the northeast of Paris. The compound, which formerly housed a 19th-century factory for heating systems, will consist of eight buildings with a total of 55,000 square feet. The main exhibition space, 22,000 square feet of space in four light-filled galleries, will be divided by convertible walls, which can be moved to transform the space. Anselm Kiefer will be the first artist to present work there in October. There will also be a multimedia space dedicated to performance, which will be inaugurated with work by Joseph Beuys that same month. The gallery will also have our buildings for private viewings, offices and archives.
Though he has galleries in Salzburg and Paris, Mr. Ropac decided that, with the entirety of the international art world in town for the Frieze Art Fair, and with post-war and contemporary auctions on tap here this week, “New York is the right place to announce a project like this.”
In the light-filled Skyroom of FIAF, as guests nibbled on bacon-wrapped dates and shrimp cocktail and swilled wine and sparkling water, the dealer detailed the three new exhibitions he has planned for the fall.
First up is a large new body of work by Anselm Kiefer, “Die Ungeborenen (The Unborn),” an exhibition that deals with the Jewish mythical figures of the 15th and 16th centuries. Mr. Kiefer, who is known to work on a grand scale, provided an inspiration for the dealer’s decision to build such a large new space.
“It was beautiful and we were very proud and happy to host him,” said Mr. Ropac’s, about Mr. Kiefer’s show at the gallery in the Marais, “but we saw the limits because we couldn’t show so many of his incredible monumental works.” Mr. Kiefer’s installation will consist of huge paintings, collages, books and sculpture, and it will be the first time he has dedicated a large body of work to the theme of the unborn, according to the dealer.
The building dedicated to performance art will open with an exhibition in honor of Beuys’s legendary 1969 work Iphigenia, during which the artist walked around a stage with a horse, banging a cymbal and playing recorded excerpts of Shakespeare’s Titus Andronicus. The exhibition, which will ”baptize the space for future performances,” will attempt to recreate all the vitrines, sculptures, drawings and manuscripts from that legendary performance. Simultaneous with this opening, the gallery in the Marais district will present another Beuys show, this one curated by Sir Norman Rosenthal, director of the Royal Academy in London, on the theme of “materiality.”
The gallery is also in talks with some of its artists, including Terence Koh and Robert Longo, about staging performances in an effort to forge “interesting synergies” between the worlds of visual arts and performance. (Interestingly, the tony La Villette park, a hub for performances, dance and music, is just next door to the new space.)
“The ceiling height is 7 to 12 meters,” said Mr. Ropac halting to estimate the conversion into feet. “Forty feet,” someone in the audience called out. Mr. Ropac smiled, “So you can imagine,” he said, “what we are able to do.”