While the title points at the founding act of the gallery’s new chapter, the ‘first stone’ is above all a reference to the importance that stones have had for many artists since the dawn of time – not as a material, but as a subject, or object.
This exhibition thus refers to the myth of the ‘first stone’, that primitive stone from which all others would have been born. Indeed, as the poet Francis Ponge wrote, ‘all rocks are born out of scissiparity from the same enormous ancestor’, condemned to perpetual disintegration, until they become sand and then dust. There are many mythological and religious narratives based on the idea of a first stone. This myth of origins comes close to that of the quest for the prima materia : namely, the philosopher’s stone, whose creation is the goal of alchemy so that to reach absolute consciousness.
It is perhaps this same quest that each of us pursues, by collecting stones, pebbles, or cobbles, with a form of curiosity tinged with fascination and mystery, as well as appropriation and melancholy in the face of this ineluctable crumbling of the mineral world that we hold in our hand, not to mention atavism even, by reviving in this way the most remote ritual gestures of monolithic civilisations.
The exhibition takes as a starting point a rare collection of ‘stones’ by Anna Eva Bergman, mainly from the 1950s, and brings them into a dialogue with further works of modern and contemporary art, as well as several older, ancient, or prehistoric pieces. These especially include the loans of exceptional 17th-century painted stones from the Galerie Kugel, Greco-Roman stones from the Galerie Chenel, and prehistoric cut stones from a private mineralogy gallery, alongside rare meteorites.
All these artefacts are displayed next to contemporary works by most of the artists with whom the gallery has been collaborating (Sophie Ristelhueber, Djamel Tatah, Georges Tony Stoll, Kapwani Kiwanga, Troy Makaza, Paul Mignard, Ittah Yoda, Josèfa Ntjam, etc.), as well as guest artists (Anna Ternon, Edgar Sarin, Hugo Servanin, Jonathan Bréchignac, etc.), and further great names from the history of art (Eugène Delacroix, Hans Hartung, Julio Gonzáles , etc.).
This exceptional project was achieved in close collaboration with partner galleries, including Galerie Kugel, Galerie Chenel and Galerie Carion (Paris) as well as Nicoletti (London), Michel Rein (Paris), Meessen de Clercq (Bruxelles), RAW – Rediscovering Art by Women, the Collection de Bueil & Ract-Madoux (Paris) and the complicity of the collective La Méditerranée.