Musée d'Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris

Carte blanche for Ari MarcopoulosBeware

The Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris is giving carte blanche to artist Ari Marcopoulos,a photographer and filmmaker emblematic of the New York underground, dedicated to offer a fresh view on the world of skateboarding. For the first time at the Museum, his work Brown Bag is being presented in a special installation. In the same way that he looks at his subjects from both an insider's and an artist’s perspective, Ari Marcopoulos is also proposing a fresh reading of certain works in the MAM collections, through the filter of the counter-cultures he is so familiar with.

In addition to its role on the modern and contemporary art scene, the Palais de Tokyo site – and its esplanade in particular – is also a world skateboarding centre. From the 1990s onwards, its distinctive architecture and ground surface rapidly made the area known as the "Dôme" a hot spot for local and then international skateboarders. The Musée d'Art Moderne de Paris wanted to pay tribute to an activity that has become a feature of its everyday existence and is being promoted as part of the Paris 2024 Olympic Games. After making its debut as a "new sport" at the Tokyo Olympics in 2021, skateboarding is now one of the four additional sports in the events scheduled for Paris this summer.

To mark the occasion, the Musée has given carte blanche to the artist Ari Marcopoulos, known for his work on youth culture including and beyond skateboarding. In 2021, the museum acquired his film Brown Bag (1994/2020), featuring shots of skateboarders filmed by the artist in mid-1990s New York and now being shown for the first time.

The screening will be accompanied by a rereading of the Musée d'Art Moderne collection through a selection of works that Marcopoulos compares with his own photographs. His portraits – visual embodiments of the different points of view he proposes in relation to the works in the museum – interact with contributions from artists including Hans Bellmer, Brassaï, Giorgio de Chirico, César, Isa Genzken, Annette Messager, Bruce Nauman, Daniel Turner and Christopher Wool. Through some fifty works, the exhibition addresses movement, the body and architecture, all themes dear to the urban cultures Ari Marcopoulos has been interested in throughout his career.


MAMVP invited me to make an exhibition around their acquisition of “Brown Bag,” a short super-8 film of skateboarders in New York that I made in 1993. The film remained undeveloped in a brown paper bag for 25 years and I rediscovered it when moving studios in 2018 and then edited it. It’s treasure that could have easily disappeared.

When the museum suggested I go through their vast collection and choose works to be shown along with my work, I recognized that similar sort of rediscovery that I found with my film was possible with the the collection with its over 15,000 works. It was at first overwhelming but eventually I found a way to make a selection. It was inspiring and and something of an education at the same time. I looked for themes related to the body, injuries, and architecture along with what I saw as challenging and puzzling works. Some of the artists I chose I was familiar with, but some were new to me. It was exhilarating to discover these new works. I felt like a kid in the candy shop. The process was not so different from my process as a photographer and filmmaker. So much of my work is about finding things. My eyes and mind are always open to what is around me — curiosity and passion pushing me to deeply engage me in the world. There’s nothing more intoxicating than delving into a new project and dedicating my mind and body to it.

Ari Marcopoulos
January 27, 2024


Ari Marcopoulos was born in Amsterdam in 1957 to a Greek airline pilot father – who gave him his first camera, from Japan – and a Dutch fashion model mother. After moving to New York in 1979, he quickly became involved in the local art scene, working with artists such as Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Robert Mapplethorpe. A printer for Andy Warhol and an assistant for fashion photographer Irving Penn, he ultimately rebelled against the prevailing ethos and set out to influence kindred spirits, young people opposed to the established order. Eloquent witnesses to the emergence of the counterculture in the mid1980s, his photos capture the heyday of skateboarding and the nascent hip-hop scene in their portrayals of musicians, celebrities, artists, friends and anonymous figures from his travels. With over published 200 books and zines to his credit, Marcopoulos work is to be found in SFMOMA, the Whitney Museum and the Fotomuseum Winterthur. His photographs have appeared in the NY Times, Aperture, Arena Homme Plus, Vogue, Dazed and Confused and many other publications. His record covers include A Tribe Called Quest, Beastie Boys, Brand Nubian and Jay-Z's Magna Carta Holy Grail. 


Curator : Olivia Gaultier-Jeanroy