Created in 1982, the Frac des Pays de la Loire is ground-breaking in more than one respect; since 1984 it has hosted artist residencies as part of its ‘Ateliers Internationaux’ international workshops initiative. This Frac also has a restoration facility that is set to become a real resource centre in the field of preventive conservation. An extensive library of 13,000 publications and a collection of artists’ books facilitates work with the public.
In 2000, as a precursor to the second-generation of Frac structures, the Frac des Pays de la Loire was the first to be allocated a building specifically tailored to its purposes in Carquefou in the district of Nantes. The architecture, designed by Jean-Claude Pondevie, combines clean lines and elegant simplicity.
The collection, which has been compiled over almost forty years, reflects the diverse nature of contemporary creation, featuring practices as wide-ranging as painting, photography, sculpture, drawing, video, performance and installation. The collection is now focused on different themes that have emerged over the years. For instance, the Frac has placed particular emphasis on artists who investigate the relationship between the artwork and its context (political or social among others); the artwork and its environment (heritage, architectural, natural…); modernity and links between art, architecture and design; as well as autobiography, performance and interest in the human body.
The Frac des Pays de la Loire is currently pursuing a multi-site development initiative with the opening of a new exhibition space on the Île de Nantes (literally, the ‘island of Nantes’) scheduled for spring 2021.
Here the Frac is looking to establish a tighter network with artists and act as a springboard for them. The new site will offer a future-oriented artistic and cultural agenda open to both emerging and internationally renowned artists. As such, it will be the ideal setting to fulfil its aims of making art more accessible by reaching out to a wide population.
Not only is the Frac des Pays de la Loire the custodian of a collection but it is also a place where art is produced, experienced in real time and where works are born. Collaborating with artists is an essential aspect of the Frac des Pays de La Loire. It is a process that has been underway since 1984 with the creation of the ‘Ateliers Internationaux’, the line taken by the Frac des Pays de La Loire being to enrich its collection in part by basing its acquisitions policy on the work produced by artists in the course of these international residency programmes.
The Frac collection is the result of an active acquisitions policy, unrestricted by medium or thematic content. Its close attention to artists and collaborative approach to their work for almost forty years is a key factor, accounting for 20 percent of its artwork portfolio. In addition, the works produced on the various sites that have accommodated the artists are inspired by these powerful settings; they include Fontevraud Abbey, the grounds and neoclassical villa of La Garenne Lemot in Clisson, the International Workshops harbour-front site at the Grand Café in Saint-Nazaire, and, in 2000, the Frac site in Carquefou set within a new urban development. The position of the Frac premises, facing the River Loire, the historical past of the city of Nantes, are also sources of inspiration!
The work produced by artists in specific contexts, with particular teams, the interactions between artists, whether local or from different backgrounds, make for a stimulating challenge. This is something I have sought to uphold in the contemporary art centres I have been asked to manage, initially at the Creux de l’Enfer and then at the Villa Arson, yet always with the slight regret at not being able to keep the works. But here, at the Frac, extending the collaborative approach with artists beyond their period of residency and exhibition by actually acquiring their work takes on a whole new dimension; it is the script of a place that, through their creative productions, is drafted over time.
After a post-graduate diploma in art history at Sorbonne University, in 1989 Laurence Gateau was appointed director of the Creux de l’Enfer, a contemporary art centre at Thiers, where she developed a forward-looking cultural agenda of productions and exhibitions. In 1996, she was the French curator at the São Paulo Art Biennial. In 2000 she was appointed director of the National Contemporary Art Centre at the Villa Arson in Nice. Since 2005, she has been director of the Frac des Pays de la Loire French Regional Collection of Contemporary Art.
In 2012 she curated ‘Women at Work’, a selection of some forty works from the Frac collection at the Caochangdi Photospring Festival and Art Beijing, China. In 2016 and 2017, for Platform – the national network of regional Frac structures – she was co-curator, with Anne-Claire Duprat, of the travelling exhibition in Asia ‘What is not visible is not invisible’, a selection of works from the collections of all twenty-three Frac at the National Museum of Singapore, at the SongEun Artspace in Seoul and at the BACC Bangkok.
Frac des Pays de la Loire
24 bis Boulevard Ampère, La Fleuriaye
44470 Carquefou, France
T(+33) 02 28 01 50 00