Francis Alÿs: Fabiola

Ahmanson Building, Level 3
September 7, 2008–March 29, 2009

Commissioned by Dia Art Foundation and curated by Lynne Cooke,Francis Alÿs: Fabiola was first installed at the Hispanic Society of America in northern Manhattan from September 2007 to April 2008. Francis Alÿs, a Belgian artist who relocated to Mexico City in the early 1990s, has assembled a significant collection of nearly identical paintings and other depictions of fourth-century Saint Fabiola over the last two decades. All of these are based on a renowned, but lost, portrait by nineteenth-century French academic painter Jean-Jacques Henner. This much-venerated image has been so assiduously copied by amateurs and professionals alike that it has become a popular icon, a phenomenon that, as the artist stated, "indicates a different criterion of what a masterwork could be." Gathered from flea markets, antique shops, and private collections throughout Europe and the Americas, Alÿs's collection offers a window onto aesthetic, sociological, and theological values over the past century and more. This exhibition will display Alÿs's group of more than three hundred Fabiola portraits, all of them copies of a lost original: most are paintings, and there are several versions in needlepoint, wood relief, and other materials as well.

Essay by Lynne Cooke

Francis Alÿs: Fabiola is organized by Dia Art Foundation and curated by Lynne Cooke. The coordinating curator at LACMA is J. Patrice Marandel, European art.

Francis Alÿs: Fabiola, installation view, Dia at the Hispanic Society of America, New York, September 20, 2007–April 6, 2008, photo: Cathy Carver.