Colette: fantastic characters

Colette was born in Tunisia where she spent her early years. She then lived in Nice, France, and spent some time in Germany before going to the United States of America. Today, she lives and works in New York.

Her artistic career began in the early 70s.

   Artistic Approach

Colette, The House of Olympia, 1992
New York
FAD Magazine, July 1994
by Dana Simmons

"Colette is a mistress of Glamour. Long before the current obsessions with issues of identity construction, she was busy inventing fantastic scenarios and characters and incorporating them in both her art and life.

Her personas range from Mata Hari to punk star and entrepreneur Justine. Before the likes of Madonna had entered popular consciousness, Colette staged elaborate, provocative and erotic performance pieces in New York's major nightclubs (Mudd Club, Dancelena, Studio 54), store windows (Fiorucci), and other unorthodox art spaces.

She began to exhibit her self transformations in art galleries as installations and as constructed photographs before such practices found the theoretical and economic encouragement that they receive now: e.g. Cindy Sherman, Jeff Koons not to mention a multitude of emerging artists.

Her fictional, fantastic characters merge imperceptibly with her public and private lives. Her 'minimal baroque' environments demonstrate her visionary style in the arenas of both fashion and art."

   Project for the Biennale

Colette in the Maison de la lumière

The space looks like a living-room

Statement for Maison de la Lumière (The New Me), work shown at the 3rd Biennale de Montréal 2002,
par Colette

"On ne parle pas anglais dans la maison de la lumière" Ici on parle français. C'est bien plus elegant (Also title of audios)"

I chose the Mexican consulate to execute my work primarily for its windows and location in the centre of town (apart from the other artists) so it would enable me to continue to explore and blur the line between art and life.

I intend to give the space at first glance the appearance of a fashion boutique. Two Colette mannequin sculptures will be installed with audios projected outside hopefully drawing for questioning the everyday passer-by... In the large room of the interior of the consulate I plan to create a small environment - sort of a lounging area, an art work which may be mistaken for a design show room, where at some point probably at the opening, a life appearance will occur...

Documents recording my life's work, (an obsession left over from The House of Olympia, 1992-2001, will be displayed in the form of books, videos, cd's, etc. and showcased will be souvenirs ...and art objects...

Finally on the walls, my new paintings will be presented in a formal manner as such of a museum and art gallery. These new mixed media works on canvas (2000-2002) are composed of sometimes digitalized altered images of installations- tableaux of the last years with the Colette mannequin sculptures replacing my presence as that of earlier performances. Some of these tableaux created prior to 9/11 actually predicted the catastrophe.

As to the exact final outcome ; this is as far as I can go, being a process artist and my life itself being a... work in progress.

   Works Shown at the 3rd Biennale de Montréal

The bedroom of the Maison de la lumière
1. Maison de la Lumière (The New Me), 2002
Installation: drawings, furniture, fabric, mannequins, photos, etc.
   Solo Exhibitions (selection)
  • Maison de la lumière, Egizio's Project, New York, USA
  • La maison de la lumière, Before and After the Smoke, Galerie Carol Johnsen, Munich, Germany


  • Colette Goes Banking, Merck Finck & Co., Berlin, Germany
  •    Group Exhibitions (selection)
  • La 3e Biennale de Montréal - 2002, Montréal (Québec), Canada


      David Blatherwick

      Cai Guo-Qiang

         & Rintala


      Marcel Dzama

      Graham Gillmore

      Betty Goodwin

      Angela Grauerholz

      Daniel Guzman

      Mathew Hale

      Anton Henning

      Cisco Jiménez


      Lux Lindner

      Corinne Marchetti

      Jorge Luis Marrero

      François Morelli

      Claudia & Julia Müller

      Alain Paiement

      Bruno Peinado

      Ed Pien

      Jean-François Prost

      John Scott

      Kiki Smith

      Siphay Southidara

      Barthélémy Toguo

      Torolab (Raúl &
         Marcela Cárdenas)

      Pablo Vargas-Lugo

      (S. Scala & S. Crispino)

      Jean-Luc Verna

      Fabien Verschaere


      Michel Iorio


      Cees Krijnen



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