The art market has of course been badly affected by the economic crisis but even in these uncertain times the galleries in Rouen are backing a wealth of young talent. There are still some art galleries in Rouen where young artists can display their work and in doing so make sure that the Rouen art scene stays firmly amongst the top of the list for art lovers and collectors.
Periods of economic austerity always produce an interesting effect on the creative arts.’ Daniel Duchoze is optimistic... in spite of the fact that sales are dramatically down since the start of the recession. His gallery has a reputation for the excellence and originality of the modern art on show here that spreads far beyond the frontiers of Normandy. ‘For the art market times of economic difficulty is a bit like gardening. The crisis is like winter. It is a time to fertilise but spring will come, the market will flower again.’ So even if the first shoots of the buds are just pushing their heads up and over the bed of recession the galleries of Rouen are ready and impatient to gather the first bouquets of the new season. Marie-Andrée Malleville is the owner of the recently opened gallery MAM in the heart of Rouen’s old town on the rue Damiette. She sees a change in the way that young artists of today work and how they set about selling their output making increasing use of new technologies.
‘The difference between today’s artists and older generations is that the latter employ others to finish their work while the youngsters are keen to do everything themselves. Today’s artist is also thinking about how their work will age and last. There is a return to a real savoir-faire, to hard work and to study. Youngsters today have taken on board the abstract concept of art itself but they are really working hard to find different ways to give people something definite to see in their work.’ Daniel Duchoze agrees: ‘There is definitely a change in the air, we are going through a period of transition from one thing to another. I feel that we are moving away from a loose and abstract notion of the artist to something concrete, a return to the idea of the professional artist, who knows his subject and who has a real sense of the finished work.
‘To my mind Duchamp did the art world no favours because he was so misunderstood. People only saw the work and not the spirit of the work, not the message behind them. Modern art is the creation of individual signals, one offs, but art is also all about culture. Art is not just about whether you like something or not - although of course that is what decides whether or not you buy a work - but to understand it and to get into a work and to get something out of it you have to have knowledge, to know the world and have an experience of life.’
Apart from this change in the way that artists work and a return to a more visually defined style of work Daniel Duchoze, who as well as his gallery is a well known artist, sees a radical change in the economics of that art market. For him the world market is a thing of the past. ‘There will be a return to the idea of a local market, of regional schools that will become powerful centres of artistic activity in a particular area. The way the market operates today is finished. The number of galleries is dwindling. The promoters, perhaps 500-1,000 in the whole world, who ‘make’ an artist. All that is finished. The economic crisis has shown up the limits of the system.’ This transformation in the world of art can only be good news for Rouen - a rosy future then for the city which not only inspired the Impressionists but who was also the muse for those artists that came after - the Rouen school - long in the shadow of their famous predecessors but whose works are considered today as being as good as anything by Monet et Pissarro…