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This publication brings together an outstanding ensemble of works by artist “explorers” selected from France’s national collections.

Whatever the terrain — on land or at the depths of the ocean, real, virtual or even at the farthest limits of the subconscious — exploration remains a quest, accomplished thanks to and in spite of oneself, to redefine the contours of a world, whether it exists for real or in our imagination. In this respect, exploration is not so unlike art, which is largely inspired by it, both in terms of how it is done and its objective. From Voyage autour de ma chambre by Xavier de Maistre, whose detailed inventory encompasses just a single room, to Jules Vernes’ Voyages extraordinaires in which we anticipate an exploration of the seas, the centre of the Earth and outer space, the paths taken by the explorer seem infinite, from the most exotic to the most local, from the direct trajectory to the most labyrinthine of routes. In this book, the artist assumes the role of explorer, inventor and cartographer in turn, plunges into the seas, traverses the oceans, digs beneath the earth, loses their way, finds it again or becomes a castaway, taking the read along with them on the ride. This digital book is a revised and enhanced edition of the two catalogues created to present the Explorateurs exhibition shown at the Centre des Arts in Enghien-les-Bains in 2010 then at the Musée de l’Abbaye Sainte-Croix des Sables d’Olonne in 2012. Sébastien Faucon, Centre national des arts plastiques

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