Pablo Bronstein’s Breguet Commission Imagines the Rise and Fall of Machines

The artist’s series of panoramic wallpapers – engaging hand drawing, digital design and master craft in a narrative about technology and culture – concludes at Frieze Los Angeles 2023

in Collaborations , Frieze Los Angeles , Videos | 15 FEB 23
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‘Wallpaper is a real product of the 18th century,’ states Argentinian-born, UK-based artist Pablo Bronstein in this video, exploring the development of his four-part series “Wallpaper with Important Machinery of the 18th Century” (2022-2023). Marking Frieze’s inaugural international partnership with luxury watchmaking brand Breguet, the commission developed over the course of a year-long cycle of Frieze fairs.

Bronstein has a long fascination with the 18th century, which included in 1775 the founding in Paris of Breguet by Abraham-Louis Breguet. Referencing the brand’s proud heritage, Bronstein draws parallels between wallpaper as a historical form that ‘developed about bourgeois taste and industrial technology’ with the era of ‘watch production entering a larger market and the mechanization of the process of seeing the time, being able to hold the time in your hand’, as he explains.

Going behind the scenes of a 12-month production straddling artistic creation, traditional craft and contemporary technology, the video traces the evolution of each work, from the artist’s easel to collaboration with digital artist Skyla Bridges, to the studio of expert wallpaper-maker Allyson McDermott.

Within the four bespoke panoramic wallpapers that result from this process, installed in sequence New York, Seoul, London and Los Angeles, Bronstein depicts the fate of a group of elaborate gilded machines, choreographed in a narrative arc that moves from ‘the unbridled optimism’ of the Enlightenment through frenzied production to the brink of obsolescence. At Frieze Los Angeles 2023, the final instalment of the work is displayed alongside historic watches from Breguet’s archives and new timepieces from their collection.