The Paris-based gallery’s founders and artists on how items of utility can become pieces of art.
By Genevieve Kyle.
We Do Not Work Alone is turning the art world on its head. An art gallery in Paris, France, We Do Not Work Alone commissions artists to craft limited edition functional yet artistic objects. Producing works such as butter dishes in the shape of houses, aluminum pencil sharpeners in the form of pipes, and simple white gloves reading Love/ Hate on the knuckles, We Do Not Work Alone focuses on where art intersects with design and utility.
Created by Louise Grislain, Anna Klossowski, and Charlotte Morel, We Do Not Work Alone set out to make a space where “everyone could afford art and use it in their everyday lives.” Inspired by “the useful tools that artists craft in the intimacy of their studios,” We Do Not Work Alone challenges artists to “step aside from their usual practice to think about use and function.” Explains the founders over email to Mission.
We Do Not Work Alone has collaborated with a wide range of artists, a stand-out collaborator being British-born French artist and Kanye West collaborator Katerina Jebb. Jebb met one of the We Do Not Work Alone founders, Anna Klossowski when she was an artist in residence at the Balthus Chapel in 2010. Jebb was later commissioned to curate an artistic object for We Do Not Work Alone’s gallery. Jebb chose to construct an image inspired by the artwork she made during her residency. She created a work titled Balthus’s Ashtray, “it’s a functional ceramic object with an image of eight extinguished Dunhill cigarettes smoked by Balthus at the end of the last century,” explained Jebb over email to Mission. Influenced by “the silent and monastic nature of Balthus’s studio,” the image came to life through Jebb’s “employment of a domestic scanner to design a high-resolution digital image which was printed at a high temperature directly onto the surface of the ashtray.” According to Jebb, the experience “has helped me to understand solitude as an important factor in creativity.”
We Do Not Work Alone has also collaborated with contemporary visual French Artist Mathieu Mercier to produce a pair of gloves. Named after Robert Mitchum’s Love/Hate knuckle tattoos, the Love/Hate gloves came to life after Mercier proposed the piece to Klossowski, Morel, and Grislain in 2015. As Mercier explains, “the piece takes a completely different meaning when you manipulate it,” becoming “themes of opposing good to evil,” serving as a Yin & Yang. The artist himself has also created other works of art and published a slew of books that center around modern art.
We Do Not Work Alone is a space for creativity without borders. Although it only operates in Paris, the founders hope to expand internationally. We Do Not Work Alone also has a place on the MKRS website, through which it connects consumers with different Parisian artists. “MKRS is a great team of talent scouts that found us! We immediately clicked, and now we are collaborating towards different exciting new ventures,” explains the We Do Not Work Alone founders.
On a mission to “break down the barriers between art and design,” We Do Not Work Alone is showing us how art can entwine with the mundane objects in our everyday lives. Celebrating the ability for artists to create pieces that make us think, whether that be with humor, shape, or craft—the gallery shows us that there is more to art and design than what meets the eye.
Artwork courtesy of Katerina Jebb – I want to focus on my salad, 2020 and The Lake, 2001.