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Since 2000, collectors and members of ADIAF (the Association pour la diffusion internationale de l’art français) have supported the French contemporary art scene through the annual Prix Marcel Duchamp – an unmissable fixture on Paris’s autmun cultural calendar.
The internationally-acclaimed Prix Marcel Duchamp recognises the work of a French or France-based visual artist, selected from a shortlist of four. The winner receives a sum of money, and a solo exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, the institution that has spearheaded the growing visibility of French contemporary art on the international scene. The Fondation d’entreprise Hermès has supported the Prix Marcel Duchamp since 2008.
Each year, the four shortlisted artists exhibit at FIAC Paris (the Foire internationale d’art contemporain), where the winner is also announced. The 2012 prize recognises the work of an artistic duo for the first time: Gisant (‘Tomb effigy’) by Daniel Dewar (b. 1976 in England’s Forest of Dean) and Grégory Gicquel (b. 1975 in Saint-Brieuc, Brittany, France) was displayed alongside work by the other finalists, Valérie Favre, Bertrand Lamarche and Franck Scurti.
The winning sculpture is a humourous response to a commission to create a tomb effigy for a vault in the Montmartre cemetery in Paris. Revisiting the classical tradition of the recumbent tomb figure, the duo created a monumental portrait in black sandstone. The stylised, fantasy figure wears flippers and a snorkelling mask, ready for a final dive into the abyss. The piece’s black humour and historical references are characteristic of the duo’s protean œuvre, combining sculpture, video and installation.