Archives mensuelles : septembre 2006

In your face 9/11 masterpiece outrages French village

Abode of Chaos, Saint-Romain-au-Mont-d’Or

In your face 9/11 masterpiece outrages French village

By Judi McLeod

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

He’s no reincarnation of Rembrandt and his neighbours just want him to buzz off. But when it comes to flogging artistic expression, Thierry Ehrmann, French businessman cum artiste, is right up there with Andres Serrano, whose ‘masterpiece’ was a photo of a statuette of the Pope immersed in urine.

Ehrmann’s artistic legacy to his corner of the world is a creation called « Abode of Chaos », and it depicts not the current state of his mind but a revolting tribute to destruction complete with crashed planes, burned walls and portraits of Osama bin Laden and Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Ehrmann, top banana at Artprice.com, won a court case against the village of Saint-Romain-au-Mont-d’Or, on the outskirts of the French city of Lyons.

This is an artist whose landscape goes well beyond his own front room. Indulging his artistic streak meant the transformation of his 17th century mansion into a tribute to destruction, described by the artist as « a third millennium’s museum. « It’s here to mark the start of the 21st century, the day of 9/11. » (www.bloomberg.com).

One man’s art may be another man’s outrage.

« It’s too easy to say `this is art’ when in fact it’s just the whim of some crazy rich person, » Pierre Dumont, the village mayor said in a phone interview. « My point here is to have him respect urban construction rules that everyone, even millionaires, must abide by. » The mayor said the court’s ruling left him « speechless » and tempts him to take the case all the way to France’s highest court.

When villagers balked, Ehrmann took his right to artistic expression to court‹and won, although he was zapped with a $200,000-euro (253,840) fine for not having obtained authorization before beginning construction.

Ehrmann is anything but your typical attic-bound starving artist. His auction-data collection company is a surviving holdover from France’s dotcom era, which affords him a Hummer, a Jaguar and a Bentley. His lifestyle, which includes a wife and a concubine living under the same roof, is too rich even for France.

Some villagers see it as worthy of note that the 237th richest businessman in France was a Free Mason and a former Opus Dei executive, long before he turned to a crusade as an artist fighting for expression.

9/11 is far too sensitive a subject to be flamboyantly frivolous about.

« If he wants to re-build his Ground Zero, fair enough, he can do it inside his property, » Nicolas Poussineau, one of the angered villagers, told Bloomberg’s Paris reporter. « We just don’t want to suffer his neurosis each time we look at the house when we enter or exit the village. »

What many villagers are calling an « eyesore » cost the artist some 5 million euros. Not only has Ehrmann fought the town’s residents, he hired a big name lawyer; has tried unsuccessfully to rally political support; has used his personal wealth to sue the villagers and staged highbrow debates on the status of contemporary works of art.

After all was said and done, villagers will tell you that their toddler crayoned dining room walls show far more artistic value.

Nor does it appear that the artist is willing to give up on his work in progress any time soon. He adds a new piece daily, either inside or outside the house, depending on his artistic temperament. As far as is known, none of the town’s 1,000 residents leafed through his self-published 1,265-page catalogue of the works.

Ehrmann’s burned and scorched walls stand out like the only petunia in the village garden patch and make a stark contrast from the 16th and 17th century architectural harmony that marks Saint-Romain-au-Mont-d’or as home.

It’s an upscale neighbourhood and as far as the villagers are concerned, eccentrics should not be encouraged.

With the way art councils of the day fund almost anything in the name of art, it’s surprising that the US National Endowment for the Arts or the Canadian Council for the Arts have not jumped in with funding for « Abode of Chaos« .

©2006 Canada Free Press

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‘Punk millionaire’ declares estate of emergency

Arts & literature

‘Punk millionaire’ declares estate of emergency

Saturday September 23, 2006
By Catherine Field

FRANCE – « War in progress » is emblazoned in foot-high graffiti on the entrance.

In the courtyard lies a wrecked helicopter. There is a 10m high recreation of the ruins of New York’s Twin Towers.

The garden has the carcass of a plane, and wrecked cars are littered around.

The walls of a stone building give prominence to sinister portraits of George W. Bush, Osama bin Laden, 9/11 conspirator Zacharias Moussaoui, Ariel Sharon and Fidel Castro. The swimming pool is filled with a red, blood-like liquid.

Is it modern art, made to cause shock and awe? Or is it a worthless obsession, full of schlock and gore? The question has been handed to France’s paramount court to decide.

In the judges’ hands is La Demeure du Chaos (The Abode of Chaos), the apocalyptic vision of Thierry Ehrmann, 44, who made a fortune from two dot.com businesses and is among France’s 300 richest individuals.

Before Ehrmann came along, Saint-Romain-au-Mont-d’Or was a tranquil, upmarket village on the fringes of Lyon. Genteel village life came skidding to an end in 1999, however, when Ehrmann purchased a fine 17th-century post house and began transforming its vast walled garden into a personalised open-air art show.

To start with, the building reflected his various beliefs, which include Catholicism and alchemy. After September 11, 2001, the project mutated into a museum of death, destruction and disorder. According to press reports, Ehrmann has spent $3-5 million on 2500 works by 41 artists.

Opposing Ehrmann is St-Romain’s 70-year-old mayor Pierre Dumont, a doughty, retired electrical engineer who says The Abode of Chaos is a dog’s breakfast of ugliness, a daft provocation and – worst of all – a breach of planning regulations.

Ehrmann, dubbed France’s « punk millionaire » for his black clothes and extreme wealth, has two dogs, two children, two live-in female partners – and a contempt for convention.

« Anything that remains of the bourgeois apparatus should be drowned in a state of permanent war, » said Ehrmann.

Dumont, supported by aghast neighbours, opened his campaign in 2004. In February, he won the first round, with the district court in Lyon ordering Ehrmann to return the property to its original state.

Ehrmann appealed and launched a petition in which he claimed to have received 54,000 signatures.

He won the second round last week. A higher court overturned the early ruling and instead fined Ehrmann €200,000 ($387,000) for failing to seek authorisation for modifying the building, but agreed the place was a work of art and its contents could remain.

Undeterred, Dumont immediately announced he would contest that ruling at France’s Court of Appeal, the court of last resort.

Lyon public prosecutor Jean-Olivier Viot, who supports Dumont, said: « Is a court of law competent for determining what is a work of art? We believe that the Court of Appeal should pronounce on this legal issue. »

This summer, the site has been visited by thousands of art lovers, goths and the simply curious.

Dumont fears for the village’s future – not least because one of Ehrmann’s neighbours is now setting up an « Abode of Eden » complete with a towering dinosaur.

Author
Catherine Field

copyright ©2006 New Zealand Herald http://www.nzherald.co.nz/

La Demeure du Chaos de Thierry Ehrmann ne sera pas reconstruite.

Le blog de Philippe Brunet-Lecomte
Lyon Mag

La Demeure du Chaos de Thierry Ehrmann ne sera pas reconstruite.

La cour d’appel de Lyon n’a pas osé. Les magistrats ont au contraire reconnu que c’était une authentique oeuvre d’art. Même s’ils ont condamné Ehrmann à une belle amende de 200 000 euros parce que… son oeuvre d’art dépassait les 40 m3. La logique judiciaire est parfois surprenante !

D’ailleurs la procédure continue puisque le maire de Saint-Romain, qui fait aujourd’hui une fixation contre Ehrmann, a décidé de tenter sa chance devant la cour de cassation.

Ici à Lyon Mag on aime bien ce personnage atypique et provocateur. C’est d’ailleurs un de nos actionnaires, petit mais fidèle. Un type sensible, honnête et sain malgré ses airs diaboliques. Voilà pourquoi, on a lancé un appel dans Lyon Mag à signer sa pétition qui a d’ailleurs récolté plusieurs dizaines de milliers de signatures.

En plus, quand il organise une journée porte ouverte, c’est l’émeute. Un sacré personnage cet Ehrmann. Pendant plusieurs jours après cette décision de la cour d’appel, on a parlé que de lui. Télés, radios, journaux, magazines… La totale. Au coeur de cette tempête médiatique, j’ai eu une longue discussion au téléphone avec lui.

Mais il garde la tête froide. Cette Demeure du chaos, c’est le combat de sa vie. Un superbe combat contre la connerie. Contre ceux qui le traitent d’imposteur. Contre ceux qui veulent réglementer la culture. Et qui au fond ne supportent pas les Ehrmann, parce qu’ils sont différents, libres et courageux.

copyright ©2006 Lyon Mag’

Thierry Ehrmann, tête de l’art

ENTREPRISES RHONE-ALPES
Septembre 2006 – N° 1483 – Numéro actuellement en kiosque

PORTRAITS
Thierry Ehrmann, tête de l’art

De son amour pour l’art, il a fait son métier, voire même une philosophie de vie !

© DR

Thierry Ehrmann est le big boss d’artprice.com (cotation d’œuvre d’art). Depuis plus de dix ans, ce trublion de la bulle artistico-médiatique s’escrime à faire passer son art pour une démarche engagée, à moins que cela ne soit l’inverse.
“Désolé mais je ne touche pas terre. Après une interview pour une télé russe et un journal espagnol, je viens d’avoir à l’instant le New York Times”, lance t-il en guise d’introduction. Mais Thierry Ehrmann sait se rendre disponible. Car qui mieux que lui, peut servir les intérêts de sa “petite” entreprise ? Au total, près de 180 salariés s’activent dans la Demeure du Chaos, siège du groupe Serveur, devenue, depuis quelques mois, un lieu de visite prisé pour badauds intrigués*.
Face à la transformation apocalyptique (murs passés au lance-flammes, carcasses de Porsche calcinées, reconstitution du ground zéro) de cette ancienne maison bourgeoise, les réactions sont diverses. À l’évidence, l’art de Thierry Ehrmann dérange. Décrié ou acclamé, il ne laisse pas indifférent et c’est bien là sa volonté. Car l’art, pour lui, est fait pour questionner et non pour apporter des réponses. “Selon moi, l’art est une cosa mentale (chose mentale) comme disait Vinci. Par exemple, quand je vois un volume, je suis capable d’imaginer en une minute ce qu’il pourrait devenir.’
Idem pour son projet très personnel de la Demeure du Chaos. Cette œuvre gigantesque n’est pas un objet, mais la restitution d’un univers propre, tel “un huis clos onirique qui reçoit des bouts du monde”. L’art est sa passion, sa vie. “Je sculpte depuis mon plus jeune âge. D’ailleurs, je suis inscrit à la Maison des artistes en tant que sculpteur plasticien depuis 1981”, explique t-il comme pour justifier sa légitimité en la matière. Un oedème laryngé, il y a quelques années, le contraint à abandonner la pierre pour l’acier. “Si j’avais voulu continuer, il aurait fallu que je porte un masque, or quand tu sculptes, il y a un rapport charnel à la matière que le port du masque rend impossible !
Recherche de l’absolu
Quand on lui demande ce qu’il recherche dans l’art, il répond sans sourciller : “La vie est une œuvre d’art et peut être considérée comme une attitude artistique. Finalement, ma recherche est l’engagement d’un enragé.” Certain du pouvoir de l’art, Thierry Ehrmann déplore même que le droit à la création n’existe pas dans le trop normalisé monde des affaires et de l’économie.
En tension perpétuelle, il ne fait pas de distinctions entre sa vie privée et son activité professionnelle. Ce qui rendrait n’importe qui schizophrène amuse le mécène. L’un ne fonctionne pas sans l’autre. Il s’agit simplement, pour lui, de “gérer les différents segments de son cerveau et d’enchaîner les connaissances et les savoirs”.
Comédien pour certains, manipulateur pour d’autres, Thierry Ehrmann connaît les codes, mais sait s’en extraire pour mieux en jouer. Emphatique et grandiloquent, le personnage peut faire sourire. Mais ses envies de gosse candide, qui continuent de le tarauder, le rendent touchant, presque vulnérable.

Emma Hebert

* Depuis 1999, Thierry Ehrmann s’emploie à transformer sa maison de Saint-Romain-au-Mont-d’Or, en véritable scène apocalyptique post-11 septembre. Opposé à ce projet René Dumont, maire du village a saisi la justice. En février dernier, le tribunal correctionnel de Lyon a ordonné la remise en état de la demeure du Chaos tout en lui accordant le statut d’œuvre d’art. La décision sur l’affaire a été mise en délibéré. Verdict le 13 septembre 2006.

copyright ©2006 Bref Online

ABODE OF CHAOS DRAWS FIRE IN FRANCE

Artnet News
Sept. 19, 2006

…/…

ABODE OF CHAOS DRAWS FIRE IN FRANCE

Artprice.com founder Thierry Ehrmann has become the center of a controversy over the state of his home in Saint-Romain-au-Mont-d’Or, a town with a population of about 1,000 on the outskirts of Lyon, France. It seems that the eccentric Ehrmann, who the London Times reports lives alone with two dogs named Saatchi and Reuters, has transformed his home — an historic 17th-century inn — into something he names the « Abode of Chaos. » About 45 artists have contributed to Ehrmann’s gesamptkunswerk, which reportedly features a pool of blood, wrecked aircraft, a mock oil platform on the roof, recreated remains of the World Trade Center and portraits of Osama bin Laden and Tony Blair. Locals have called it a monument to bad taste, and mayor Pierre Dumont has attempted to use legal means to force Ehrmann to restore his home to its original condition — an initial ruling said that the display had to go, whereas the most recent court order lets it stand as art. The mayor has said that he intends to appeal to the country’s highest court in order to put an end to Ehrmann’s « Abode. »

…/…

copyright ©2006 Artnet News

Zee News, India: French man fined for turning home into art exhibit

Home > Lifestyle > Out of Line

French man fined for turning home into art exhibit

Paris, Sept 19: A French businessman-turned artist was fined 200,000 euros ($253,800) on Wednesday for defacing his 18th century stone home in a quiet suburb of Lyon to turn it into a work of art called « The Abode of Chaos« .

Thierry Ehrmann, 44, who made a fortune from an online art data business, has spent 2.5 million euros ($3.17 million) on the project since starting out in 1999.

His property is littered with 2,500 works of art including a crashed helicopter in the courtyard, wrecked cars, a model of the jagged steel remains of the World Trade Center. It also has a reproduction of an oil platform on the roof.

The walls of the old building are painted black and covered in signs, black and white pictures of war, and faces including those of Osama Bin Laden, U.S. President George W. Bush, Ariel Sharon, Yasser Arafat, and Fidel Castro as well as eight portraits of popes. Ehrmann painted the two-story house together with 70 artists from various countries.

The Lyon court ruled that Ehrmann had violated town planning laws by modifying the property without permission. But the court did not demand he restore the property to its original state.

Ehrmann said the point of art was to ask questions and was delighted with the outcome of the case.

« We can say that it’s a victory, the work of art is saved. All the 70 artists (who participated in the work of art) are delighted, everybody is delighted (by the court decision not demanding the restoration of the house to its original state). »

Pierre Dumont, mayor of Saint Romain au Mont d’Or who took Ehrmann to court, argued that he has violated laws on building within the town limits.

Neighbours in the small village of Saint Romain au Mont d’Or had mixed views.

« It paves the way for the destruction of the village, anyone will be able to do whatever they want, » said one angy neighbour.

Another was unconcerned: « It’s a work of art, so it’s fair, it’s normal », he said.

Bureau Report

copyright ©2006 ZEENEWS.COM

Town outraged over chaos house

THE ARTS

Town outraged over chaos house

Charles Bremner
September 19, 2006

CRASHED aircraft, fire-blackened walls, a swimming pool of blood and portraits of Tony Blair and Osama bin Laden adorn a sprawling « shrine to chaos » which is at the centre of a dispute in a village on the outskirts of Lyon in France.

To the anger of the mayor and some residents, the Lyon appeal court last week recognised the 2.5-acre Demeure du Chaos (Abode of Chaos), the project of an internet millionaire, as a work of art and allowed it to remain standing.

Thierry Ehrmann, 44, the owner and creator, was fined E200,000 ($A336,000) for failing to seek planning permission to turn his 17th-century coaching inn and its grounds in the village of Saint-Romain-au-Mont-d’Or into a theatre of war. The appeal judges annulled a lower court order to have the site, developed by 45 European artists, restored to its original state.

Ehrmann’s celebration of the apocalypse, inspired by his experiences in the Middle East and by the events of September 11, 2001, has enraged residents who are offended by its charred walls, twisted metal, burnt-out cars and battlefield debris. A mock oil platform sits on one roof amid camouflage netting. The garden includes a sculpture recreating the remains of the World Trade Centre.

« I have to pass by it every day. It’s morbid. It’s horrible, » Monique Nietto, a neighbour, told Le Parisien. « Ehrmann has completely destroyed a magnificent property. »

The locals call the site « Grozny on the Cote d’Or ».

Pierre Dumont, 70, the mayor, who brought the suit against Ehrmann, is now appealing to the country’s highest court, which can overturn the verdict only on technical grounds. « It stuns me and sickens me. The law is obviously not the same for everyone, » he said. Ehrmann’s « morbid and aggressive » site had blighted the village, which has 1000 residents, he added.

Ehrmann, who occupies the house with his two Great Danes, Saatchi and Reuters, said that the ruling was a victory for art. The mayor was helping to publicise a site which has become the most visited free open museum in France, he added. « We get about 90,000 people a year, » he said. Little was visible from the outside, he added.

Ehrmann, whose fortune mainly comes from artprice.com, the international art valuation site which he founded, is supported by a local MP. Officials in the culture ministry are considering having his Demeure listed as a recognised art work. « The judges have confirmed that this is unquestionably a work of art, and have clearly shown their will to protect a unique and singular creation, » he said after the appeals ruling.

The Times

copyright ©2006 The Australian