Today marks the opening of "G I R L" at Galerie Perrotin in Paris, a new exhibition curated by Pharrell — and named after his latest album — bringing together the work of more than 30 artists, many of whom produced original pieces exclusively for the project.
Pharrell selected art by Sophie Calle, Tracey Emin, Ryan McGinley, and Marina Abramovic to hang alongside Takashi Murakami’s fantastical portraits of the singer and his wife at their wedding, as well as The Future Pharrell, a resin sculpture by American artist Daniel Arsham, molded from the musician’s form.
Williams is credited as "curator" of the exhibition, and at a preview event for media yesterday, he said he found the process quite meaningful, especially the opportunity to meet many of the artists, some of whom are represented by the gallery. “It was a crash course into that person’s life. I got to learn about that artist and their process,” he said. “Takashi Murakami is a master and his mind is colorful, his imagination unbelievable. I just got a kick out of watching the guy think.”
A couple of trickier questions came from the crowd, however, including some about the inclusion of work from controversial photographer Terry Richardson. (His piece in the show is a 1994 print featuring a close-up of a girl’s crotch covered by a heart-shaped cookie with the words "Eat Me" written in icing.) Pharrell graciously acknowledged the queries, adding that he “wanted people to talk about the project. We want people to be curious, and we wanted to start a conversation, not a controversy.” He went on to add that he had a personal relationship with Richardson, who shot N.E.R.D.’s first album cover as well as the wedding photos that feature in Murakami’s works in this exhibition. Gallery owner Emmanuel Perrotin also jumped in to remark: “I’ve worked with Terry Richardson since 1996. He’s an artist I love. He completely changed photography … We knew when we used this picture there would be a reaction, and we are happy to assume responsibility. I would do a new show with Terry. I have no problem with him.”
Williams seemed a little perturbed after a few minutes of this, but, then again, earlier in the program, he'd been the first to admit that his expertise lies in the music business, not the art world. “I’m a musician," he said. "I’m here to learn. I don't profess to be an expert.”
"G I R L" is on view through June 27 at Galerie Perrotin, 76 rue de Turenne.