Last week we were invited to Paris for something a little bit special. Set in the breathtakingly elegant Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, Nike opened the doors on their Stages exhibition, in support of the Lance Armstrong Foundation. The project is the brainchild of Mark Parker (CEO of Nike Inc.) and Lance Armstrong (7 time Tour de France winner), collating a set of 21 elite (yet very diverse) artists all under one roof. A tricky task succinctly executed. This week we’ll be bringing you a daily article on the show, acknowledging the attention the show demands.
As you walk down the cobbled streets of east Paris and into the leafy, unassuming courtyard of the Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin, you get the feeling you’re going to be shown something to remember. The setting is exquisite, however, as soon as you step into the polished concrete floor of the opening room you’re completely immersed and your surroundings become somewhat irrelevant.
If you’re not being humbled by the story behind Shepard Fairey’s newest canvas, or marveling at the craft and ingenuity of Dzine’s Tipping Point bike, then you’re probably circling the specially created sculpture by Geoff McFetridge or scrutinising the mystifying detail of a Gursky photograph – Stages truly offers up something for everyone to appreciate.
In the his own words, each artist was asked to create work that was “inspired by Lance and dedicated to the fight against cancer” and it’s plain to see the vision has been realised. We’re not just talking about pretty pictures hung on walls, but poignant issues tackled with heartfelt honesty in a whole host of different ways – each one a success in it’s own right.
Let’s not forget though that the show exists to aid the Lance Armstong Foundation, whether that be directly with the fee bid for the pieces, or educating a new audience on their mission, Nike are most certainly supporting something wholly worthwhile with total poise and style.
We quizzed Mark Parker while we looked around and couldn’t have hoped for a more sincere account of how important the show is to him and Lance Armstrong.
Firstly, congratulations on a great show, can you tell us a little about your involvement in the project?
Well I was involved with Lance in the idea for the show. We met last year in September, when he decided to come back for the tour and we were just kicking around some ideas on what we could do to bring attention to the fight against cancer. We both collect art and are really interested in artists and commissioning so we thought it’d be great to take 21 artists, one for each stage of the tour and commission work that would be inspired by Lance’s battle with cancer. There was no more of a brief than that. We didn’t want to direct the artists, but let them do what they wanted to. We wanted a range of artists – high end, world recognised artists, some are also good friends of mine and Lance…
Did you know all twenty-one before you started the project or did you find some along the way?
No I didn’t, and neither did Lance… Obviously I knew most of their work, but didn’t know them personally. We wanted a real diversity – not just any one category and I think it’s worked out really well. We are very grateful to the artists and everyone has been incredibly enthusiastic.
Are there plans to do more of these shows for other causes?
Well we have a longstanding relationship with Lance that goes way back to before he was diagnosed cancer. We like to do creative things together and we’re very committed to the cause of the foundation. We have a few other things to focus on as a company, not too many because we like to focus and go deep and make a difference with fewer things rather than load up with loads of causes and just skim the surface. We’ll always be looking for creative, innovative ways to bring attention to important causes like this – not your typical, traditional ways but try and bring a new way of thinking – mix it up a little bit. I personally love taking different cultures and bringing them together – cross pollinating people and ideas. Some of the most interesting things come out of that and I love being in a position to help be a catalyst to that.
That’s obviously highlighted in this show, to get a line-up of contemporary artists all in one exhibition like this is very impressive.
Yeah, it’s unheard of. Unprecedented. A lot of these artists would have never shown together in a group like this. The artists showing were born in the 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s and the 80s, so they span six decades. From the street all the way up to high-end. I like that we’re not categorising – it’s open. We’re very comfortable with what we’re doing and the fact that we’re breaking some new ground can only be good for art….
For more pictures from the show head over to the dedicated Stages website and look out for more posts from us between now and Friday, focusing on the work itself in a little more detail.
July 17 – August 8
Galerie Emmanuel Perrotin
76 rue de Turenne 75003 Paris
T : +33 (0)1 42 16 79 79
Tuesday – Saturday, 11am – 7pm