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"The Illusion of an Endless Summer: Californian Design, Sun and Mirages" by Lilian Froger

Installation photograph, Designed in California, SFMOMA, San Francisco, January 27–May 27, 2018, photo: Don Ross

Lilian Froger is the third recipient of the grant for the writing and publication of a critical essay that was created in 2016 by Institut français, Institut national d’histoire de l’art (INHA) and Critique d’art magazine.

The ideas Lilian Froger develops in his essay were prompted by the coincidence of three exhibitions that were held respectively in Helsinki, San Francisco and Los Angeles, and which all “[explore] the relationship between design, California and the imaginaries it evokes.” Far from being only a way of manufacturing objects and creating spaces for living and working, design also shapes behaviors, imaginaries, and ultimately societies themselves. Through the close attention he pays to the museographic devices of each one of the exhibitions, Lilian Froger highlights the discrepancies between the different narratives they produce. Some operate by subdivisions and specializations (“modernist” Southern California vs. "geek" Northern California), others, on the contrary examine junctions, quotations, the presence of others (between California and Mexico).

Read the complete essay here in both French and English.


Lilian Froger holds a PhD in Contemporary Art History. His research focuses on Japanese photography from the 1950s to the present and questions the connections between photography, publishing and exhibitions. Alongside his academic research, he writes critical essays published in esse arts + opinions, 2.0.1, Critique d’art, IMA and Marges that examine the role of fiction in the fields of contemporary art and design, as well as the necessary implication of the viewer, reader, or user in the activation of objects and the understanding of images. He is currently developing a cycle of conferences at EESAB (Brest) on the oppositional power of design. He is the founder of Sombres torrents, a publishing house dedicated to art and design (www.sombrestorrents.com).


A center of research and education, of debate and of publication, Les Archives de la critique d’art (Archives of Art Criticism), conserve and enhance writings, documents and archives of active art criticism that date back to the middle of the 20th century. In this way, they make visible the role of authors and their texts in the realm of contemporary art. From the origin, eminent figures of art criticism such as Pierre Restany, Michel Ragon and Frank Popper supported the project in highlighting their personal archives. In addition, the Archives of Art Criticism are developing a cultural action that continues to engage public meetings, debates and publications on contemporary art. From this point of view, the publication of CRITIQUE D’ART dedicated to international critical literature on contemporary art is envisioned as a professional tool developed in collaboration with the major actors of critique and of art theory of the 20th and 21st centuries.


The grant is made possible thanks to the support and collaboration of the Ministry of Culture and the Direction générale de la création artistique.

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