Night Revelry at the Establishment of Madame Deyrolle, 2000

A photograph of me in Deyrolle in autumn of 2009, taken by Damien Grenon.

The original text that accompanied the exhibit in 2000:

Deyrolle is a very famous and old taxidermy shop in Paris. It has been in the same location on the rue du Bac near St. Germaine since 1831. You will know you’ve found it when you see the horse standing by the front door. When you walk into the shop you will find yourself in a small room filled with peacocks, monkeys, and an ostrich; go up the spiral staircase and as your eyes rise above the floor you will see lions, tigers, zebras, wolves, bears and myriad other animals, all staring as you step into the room gaping back at them. Inside Deyrolle mammals, insects, birds, reptiles, and amphibians are arrayed willy-nilly, no ponderous labels or educational dioramas, only the lifelike remains of 169 years of taxidermy.

The art of taxidermy has much in common with the art of drawing before the advent of photography. Both attempt to preserve the likeness and form of transitory living things for reasons of sentiment, pride, knowledge or curiosity. Since 1831 there have been profound changes in the way humans relate to nature and also in how humans define and create art. This exhibit is a fantasia, a throwback to pre-Modern art, and a tribute to the Pathetic Fallacy.

A few additional comments:

On February 1, 2008, Deyrolle was seriously damaged by fire. The fire was due to an electrical fault. Much of the collection perished. There is a haunting book of photographs by Laurent Bochet, 1000*C Deyrolle, published by Assouline, that shows the fire-ravaged Deyrolle and some of the taxidermy half-consumed.

Artists and friends of Deyrolle came to its aid, and Deyrolle has been restored. If you visit today you will see the reincarnation of Deyrolle, its spirit intact, it continues to inspire, educate, and intrigue.