50/50: 50th-anniversary exhibition of the École des arts de la Sorbonne

Exhibition text published by Galerie Michel Journiac, Centre Saint-Charles, Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne (Paris), September-November 2021.

Saint-Charles (after 1968 and before the current reforms of higher education and research in France) will forever shine like a black diamond to me: while I knew several professors before enrolling in the programme, I remain, afterwards, astounded by the fact that not a single one of its teachers is unknown, not to say of an indisputable dimension within the arts and humanities. Where would we find, today, as many big names, what is more, at the cutting edge of their respective fields?

Dominique Pasqualini (summer 2021)

Whether they brushed its walls to attend the first curriculum in visual arts given within a French University, the Université Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, or prepare themselves for secondary education teaching in the same discipline finally freed from the 19th-century anachronisms of the late formation at the Lycée Claude-Bernard, many are the artists who have attended the Centre Saint-Charles rather than the  customary French beaux-arts schools since its official inauguration, in 1972, at the instigation of the philosopher Bernard Teyssèdre.

This is where Dominique Pasqualini, the current director of the École Supérieure des Beaux-Arts de Bordeaux, met his accomplice, Jean-François Brun, with whom he cofounded the collective Information Fiction Publicité (IFP) in 1983 – in the shadows, yet without the shadow of a doubt a huge step within the hatching of postmodern art in France (understood that installation would be its primary form and mixed media its rule). This is also where have passed each other, among so many other students, the one who was nicknamed in international press ‘one of France’s best kept secrets,’[1] Jean-Luc Moulène, the directors of the art centres FRACs Île-de-France and Bretagne Xavier Franceschi and Étienne Bernard,respectively, as well as the film director François Ozon, the photographer Mohamed Bourouissa, or the media-arts pioneer Maurice Benayoun, now a professor at the School of Creative Media of the City University of Hong Kong Hong Kong, and whose Quarxs couldn’t really explain it all.

Like the later, and along with other renown thinkers such as Daniel Arasse, who took such a wonderful closer look, the Transcendent Satrap of experimental cinema Dominique Noguez, Anne-Marie Duguet who, memory at hand, brilliantly told the history of video art in the making, as well as the writer, witch and feminist Xavière Gauthier, many are also the artists who taught there. Whether they were tenured or not, their guidance has indeed left on Saint-Charles a long-lasting memory.

Come to mind and jostle there Vera et François Molnár, who cofounded the Groupe art et informatique; the leading figures of kinetic art Carlos Cruz-Diez and Julio Le Parc, the latter having seized the occasion to teach political caricature instead;  the eminent Lettrist Maurice Lemaître, as well as the filmmakers Rose Lowder and Stéphane Marti, still in the field of experimental cinema; Iannis Xenakis between music and engineering, whose work will be dedicated a retrospective by the Philharmonie de Paris in 2022; Michel Journiac and his blood sausage of course, who opened at the Centre Saint-Charles the exhibition space renamed after him after his death, in 1995; then no less that Léa Lublin and Lygia Clark, also in the vicinity of performance, the latter having developed her participative practice in close collaboration with her students, before her pedagogy embarked her further into the territory of art-therapy; finally, many actors of Figuration narrative, including Bernard Rancillac and Henri Cueco, the conceptual painter Claude Rutault, one of the precursors of street art Ernest Pignon-Ernest, without mentioning Sarkis and so many other artists who have taken part in this journey at the crossroads of visual arts and social sciences, and continue to do so today.

To celebrate the 50th anniversary of the creation of the Centre Saint-Charles, and even more so the introduction of visual arts into French higher education, 50/50 gathers together at the Galerie Michel Journiac this fall about a hundred artists who have taught there. Under the form of a cabinet of wonders, as many small-scaled works – up to 50 x 50 cm (0,4 x 0,4 in) – cover the entire walls of the exhibition space: the occasion to pay tribute to the past fifty years of this curriculum combining theory and practice based on the decompartmentalization of knowledge that animated the French student revolution of 1968 at its very core, and the fifty to come, which will, hopefully, figure how to rise to the challenge of the current reforms of higher education and research in France, so that to continue on this fertile friction between thinker-artists, artist-thinkers, thinkers and artists, and keep exploring what humanities are and do to artistic creation.

[1] Chris Sharp, “Mono: Jean-Luc Moulène,” Kaleidoscope, no. 9, Winter 2010, p. 123.


Estèla Alliaud – Élisabeth Amblard – Alexia Antuofermo – Elsa Ayache Hervé Bacquet – Pierre Baqué – Claude Bellegarde – Maurice Benayoun – Romain Bernini – Dominique Blais – Christian Bonnefoi – Filomena Borecka – Jean-Pierre Brigaudiot – Benjamin Brou – Jean-Pierre Callewært – Claire Chesnier – Éliane Chiron – Jacques Cohen – Richard Conte – Lygia Clark – Carlos Cruz-Diez – Henri Cueco – Jean Da Silva – Jean-Marie Dallet – Alain Declercq – Lydie Delahaye – Lisbeth Delisle – Paul Devautour – Walter Dörr – Vincent Dulom – Michel Dupré – Anouck Durand Gasselin – Miguel Egaña – Ernest Pignon-Ernest – Agathe Eristov – Nicolas Fenouillat – Hervé Fischer – Agnès Foiret-Collet – Élisa Fuksa-Anselme – Paul- Armand Gette – Jacques Gilloz – Michel Gouéry – Gisèle Grammare – Xavier Grégoire – Bernard Guelton – Jérôme Gulon – Aurélie Herbet – Céline Hervé – Joël Hubaut – Phouséra Ing – Jean-Luc Jehan – Michel Journiac – Pierre Juhasz – Joël Kermarrec – Farah Khelil – Olga Kisseleva – Maria Klonaris – Jean Lancri – Bernard Lassus – Marion Laval-Jeantet – Anne-Sarah Le Meur – Julio Le Parc – Cécile Le Talec – Maurice Lemaître – Muriel Leray – Dany Leriche – Rose Lowder – Léa Lublin – Maud Maffei – Pascal Mahou – Stéphane Marti – François Molnár – Vera Molnár – Sandrine Morsillo – Côme Mosta-Heirt – Jean-Luc Moulène – Davide Napoli – Olivier Nerry – Olivier Long – Karen O’Rourke – Gina Pane – René Passeron – Grzegorz Pawlak – Frank Pecquet – Antoine Perrot – Bertrand Planes – Jérôme Poret – Garance Poupon-Joyeux – Bernard Rancillac – Nathalie Reymond – Éric Rondepierre – Jean Roualdes – Sarah Roshem – Bernard Roué – Jean Rudel – Claude Rutault – Benjamin Sabatier – Francoise Saddy – Jean-Pierre Sag – Michel Salsmann – Jacques Sato – Michel Sicard – Hélène Sirven – Frédéric Sojcher – Joël Stein – Jeanne Susplugas – Katerina Thomadaki – Yann Toma – Michel Verjux – Frédéric Verry – Véronique Verstræte – Christophe Viart – Frédéric Vincent – Isabelle Vodjdani – Diane Watteau – Pascale Weber – Mireille Weinland – Iannis Xenakis – Nil Yalter, etc.