Meet the Nearly-Naked Artist Walking Around Frieze Wearing Only Her Painting

It's a performance piece, because of course.

Anaïs de Contades, The New Rebellion Is Romantic. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.
Anaïs de Contades, The New Rebellion Is Romantic. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

Proving you can always count on Frieze New York for spectacle, French artist Anaïs de Contades caused quite the stir at Frieze New York’s May 4 preview, perusing the millions of dollars worth of artwork on view clad only in a strategically wrapped painting.

“I don’t wear anything but the canvas, to promote spirituality,” De Contades told artnet News. I had spotted her immediately upon entering the tent, as she stood in front of a glowing neon piece by Jeppe Hein, Please Participate, being shown by New York’s 303 Gallery.

De Contades faced the artwork, her blonde hair and the white canvas painted in broad hot pink brushstrokes, illuminated by the sculpture’s white glow. It was a striking image, and I quickly snapped a photo. Before I could walk away, the man accompanying her had handed me a flyer explaining the performance, titled The New Rebellion Is Romantic.

“I’m here at the invitation of a very important collector,” she told me, when I asked if the performance was part of the official Frieze programming. A mutual contact introduced her to Beth Rudin De Woody just four days ago, and now here she was, decked out in canvas in the big white tent on Randall’s Island.

Anaïs de Contades and Lans King, <em>The New Rebellion Is Romantic</em>. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

Anaïs de Contades and Lans King, The New Rebellion Is Romantic. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

De Contades staged a similar performance in October 2016, during Paris Fashion Week, at the Centre Pompidou. This is her first trip to New York, and she came specifically for this piece.

The work is part of her mini art movement, #RomanticRebellion, which she co-founded with photographer and artist Lans King. He was accompanying De Contades throughout the fair, handing out the flyers and documenting the performance.

Anaïs de Contades, <em>The New Rebellion Is Romantic</em>. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

Anaïs de Contades, The New Rebellion Is Romantic. Courtesy of Sarah Cascone.

The painting/outfit being used for the piece is De Contades’s self portrait, based on an earlier photo taken of her by King. “I am the muse of the artist,” she explained. It’s a relationship with many levels: his photo, her painting, her performance, and then ending again with his photo.


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