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Marc Camille Chaimowicz Biography

Based in London, Marc Camille Chaimowicz is a French-born artist often cited for 'pioneering installation art long before the term "immersive" became a press release cliché'. Merging his artistic practice and personal life, he uses camp aesthetics, humour and tropes of femininity to form playful and generous artworks that defy easy categorisation.

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Early Years

Spending the first eight years of his life in post-war Paris, Chaimowicz was raised by a Polish Jewish father and French Catholic Mother. Eventually, the family moved to London, which has remained Chaimowicz's home since.

In London, Chaimowicz studied painting at the Ealing School of Art and, later, Camberwell School of Art, before undertaking his master's degree in painting at Slade School of Fine Art. Despite the latter's esteem in painting, he became disenchanted with the medium and moved to installation and performance, inspired by a trip to Paris during the May 1968 protests.

Marc Camille Chaimowicz Artworks

Marc Camille Chaimowicz straddles the decorative arts, interior design and collage to share and evoke intimate and personal experiences. His works are largely maximalist, rich with pastel hues and seemingly haphazardly assembled, proffering open readings instead of one didactic message.

Celebration? Realife

First exhibited in 1972, Chaimowicz's Celebration? Realife embodied his anti-disciplinary approach to installation, assembling trinkets, candles, flowers and other curiosities in a fairy-lit room. Viewers were encouraged to wander through the installation, embracing the inherent mutability of the artwork, which can never be experienced the same way twice. All the while, a selection of seventies classics by David Bowie, Jimmy Hendrix and The Doors soundtrack the encounter. After its first showing, the ephemeral contents of the installation were stored away, only to reappear in 2000, when the artist recreated the work as Celebration, Realife Revisited (1972–2000), named in reference to the Bob Dylan album, Highway 61 Revisited.

Featuring silver-lined walls like those in Andy Warhol's factory, the work is a bizarre combination of kitsch, seventies glamour—reminiscent of the glam rock scene—and curational deft that levels public and private space in one provocative performance.

World of Interiors

Core to Chaimowicz's practice is an ability to recreate and stage environments that are both earnest and performative. After he designed the interior of his former flat on Approach Road, East London, where he lived from 1974 to 1979, Chaimowicz spent the eighties and beyond building theatrical sets with his own décor and furniture. As part of his interiors practice, he encourages daydreaming, forcing viewers to consider their own relation to the art.

Later in his career, the artist created a new work for his first major retrospective at WIELS art centre, entitled Hayes Court Sitting Room (1979–2023), which transposed the South London living room he has lived in since 1979 into the gallery. The work features existentialist literature splayed across furniture, mid-century modern design and his own printed cushions. Again, a public-private dichotomy comes to the fore.

A Literary Imagination

One of the key tools in Chaimowicz's works is his stylisation of life, which often results in indulgent, effete and fanciful visual storytelling. As such, his longstanding reference, the heroine of Gustave Flaubert's novel, Madame Bovary (1856), took centre stage at his Nuit américaine (2023) exhibition in a proxy self-portrait—'portraiture differed', as he put it. The installation comprised more than 40 collages documenting his varied moods while isolating from Covid-19. To make the works, he interpreted Emma Bovary's many personas using fashion imagery and saccharine colours, a choice in keeping with his consistently female-coded aesthetics.

At times, Chaimowicz's plays with femininity and camp have been described as a queer aesthetic, although, some curators and critics deem the term too loaded for his light approach. Nonetheless, many have agreed that Chaimowicz's soft hand positions him firmly alongside his own idols: Jean Cocteau, Jean Genet and Andy Warhol.

Awards and Accolades

In 2009 Chaimowicz was recipient of a Paul Hamlyn Foundation Awards for Artists grant in the Visual Arts category.

Exhibitions

Marc Camille Chaimowicz has been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions.

Solo exhibitions include: Nuit américaine, WIELS, Brussels (2023); Zig Zag and Many Ribbons..., Musée d'art moderne et contemporain de Saint-Etienne Métropole (2022–2023); Your Place or Mine..., Jewish Museum, New York (2018); and An Autumn Lexicon, Serpentine Gallery, London (2016)

Group exhibitions include: Future, Former, Fugitive, Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2019), La Collection Thea Westreich Wagner et Ethan Wagner, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016); and A Bigger Splash: Painting after Performance Tate Modern, London (2012)

Articles

Articles on Marc Camille Chaimowicz have been published in Ocula Magazine.

Other publications, including the New York Times, e-flux and the Art Newspaper, have also published articles on the artist.

Joe Bobowicz | Ocula | 2023

Marc Camille Chaimowicz
featured artworks

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Nine Boards for J.G. by Marc Camille Chaimowicz contemporary artwork painting
Marc Camille Chaimowicz Nine Boards for J.G., 2011 Acrylic on plywood
248.9 x 116.8 x 1.3 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery Request Price & Availability
Folding Screen (Five-Part) by Marc Camille Chaimowicz contemporary artwork sculpture
Marc Camille Chaimowicz Folding Screen (Five-Part), 1979 Acrylic paint and hand tinted photographs on wood
Andrew Kreps Gallery Request Price & Availability
Domestic anecdotes, grey, No.3 by Marc Camille Chaimowicz contemporary artwork mixed media
Marc Camille Chaimowicz Domestic anecdotes, grey, No.3, 1978 Black and white photographs, oil paint, glass, hand painted wood frame
14.2 x 18 x 2.5 cm (incl frame)
Andrew Kreps Gallery Request Price & Availability
Table Tableau by Marc Camille Chaimowicz contemporary artwork mixed media
Marc Camille Chaimowicz Table Tableau, 1975 Black and white photographs, oil paint, glass, hand painted wood frame
35.6 x 27.9 x 2.5 cm (incl frame)
Andrew Kreps Gallery Request Price & Availability
Ecran by Marc Camille Chaimowicz contemporary artwork painting
Marc Camille Chaimowicz Ecran, 1990 Recto: marquetry in aniègré, sycamore, elm and rosewood of Rio; verso: oil on canvas
37 x 28 x 4.5 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery Request Price & Availability
Series One, Drawing No. 5, (London, August 7th) by Marc Camille Chaimowicz contemporary artwork works on paper
Marc Camille Chaimowicz Series One, Drawing No. 5, (London, August 7th), 1995 Pencil, ink, gouache on paper
31.1 x 24.1 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery Request Price & Availability
Series One, Drawing No. 8 (London, August) by Marc Camille Chaimowicz contemporary artwork works on paper
Marc Camille Chaimowicz Series One, Drawing No. 8 (London, August), 1995 Pencil, ink, gouache on paper
31.1 x 24.1 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery Request Price & Availability
Finally Alone by Marc Camille Chaimowicz contemporary artwork mixed media
Marc Camille Chaimowicz Finally Alone, 1988–1989 Oil and charcoal on canvas and board
109.2 x 121.9 cm
Andrew Kreps Gallery Request Price & Availability
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