New York, LACMA


Francis Alÿs is well-known for his paintings, drawings and videoworks. This time, though, the Belgian artist, who moved to Mexico City in the early 1990s, has made an exhibition not about his own art but other people's. Over the last two decades, Alÿs, 49, has assembled a collection of more than 300 virtually identical paintings and other depictions of fourth-century Saint Fabiola. They are all based on a renowned, but lost, portrait by the nineteenth-century French academic painter, Jean-Jacques Henner.

Alÿs found the artworks in flea markets, antique shops and private collections throughout Europe, North and South America. Most of them are paintings, but there are several versions in needlepoint, wood relief and other materials. Through being widely copied by amateurs and professionals, Henner's venerated image of Saint Fabiola has become a popular icon. Collectively, the representations convey how aesthetic, sociological and theological values have evolved. According to Alÿs, this phenomenon "indicates a different criterion of what a masterwork could be."

September 7, 2008, through March 29, 2009
Ahmanson Building
5905 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles CA 90036
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