The following article is a translation of Jim Morrison est « vivant ». Frère, Xavier. L’Est Républicain. Web. 16 June 2012. Translated from French.
Jim Morrison is “alive”
Contemporary art at Art Basel, a large-scale installation inspired by the singer of The Doors, cast in Vézelise
Nancy. “No one here gets out alive”. A mythical phrase from the song “Five To One” (1968), and the best biography on Jim Morrison (2007). He is “alive”, and yet, the leader of The Doors was found dead during the night(1) on July 3, 1971 in Paris. Still alive through his music and poetry and the ersatz rock singers he continues to inspire. Still alive through his grave in Père Lachaise, undoubtedly one of the most visited in the world.
Forty years after his death(2), it’s with a contemporary work of art that one of rock’s 20th century icons rises from his ashes. New York artist Tom Burr is exhibiting “Room 4” at Art Basel this weekend, one of the world’s premier art shows. A “work” in the figurative and literal sense, referring to the room number at the Hôtel de Médicis (now Hôtel Le Petit Paris) where the Lizard King stayed for two weeks shortly before his death(3).
Burr’s reputation is growing in New York with the support of the Bortolami gallery, who also exhibits Daniel Buren. Burr is one of the 50 major artists exhibiting their work at Art Unlimited in Switzerland. He emphasizes that the installation was “designed as a memorial to memorials”. If a famous man like Morrison had never stayed there, he continues, this room would have remained unknown. Like his gravestone, it remains a place of pilgrimage and is the subject of videos, articles and graffiti.
Walls 2m50 high, a window, door number 4, a table, a chair, a wardrobe, bathroom tile. Also included are accessories such as a garbage can and a bottle of Jack Daniel’s with its bottle cap, whose position on the tile during the installation created a debate over a couple of centimeters. “Room 4” (3 tons of metal) arrived last week from the foundry, Huguenin, located in Vézelise.
It was cast in bronze and patinated before joining the exhibit. “It took us five months to build”, notes Joël Huguenin, who heads the company since 1978. Huguenin works mainly in eastern France and near the border. “Working with such an acclaimed artist has given us international exposure”. Why did the Bortolami Gallery, usually inclined to include more “classic” works of art, select this foundry? “Because we have a large volume of production, the quality of our work is well-known, and we’re not very far from Switzerland”.
Few foundries possess this level of expertise in sheet metal work. Tom Burr validated the work two times, once in March, and once in May. The foundry prefers to be discrete regarding the financial aspect of the contract. But the customs value was estimated at 300,000 € at the Swiss border. The foundry estimates that the installation could possibly sell for one million euros.
“Jim Morrison died when I was 20 years old”, smiles Joël Huguenin, who is more of a fan of Miles Davis. Unquestionably as popular as ever, Jim still lights a fire (artistic) and remains a subject of worship. An immortel. It’s still not the end, and still not the hour for “The End”.
Complete artwork description from the 2012 Art Unlimited catalogue
Feature photo credit: © Bortolami Gallery
- (1) Jim was found dead on July 3, therefore he died during the night of July 2.
- (2) 2012 marks the 41st anniversary of Jim’s death.
- (3) Jim stayed at the Hôtel de Médicis in 1970, a year before his death on July 3, 1971. (Source: www.cromwell-intl.com)