In this exhibition, the artist Pierrick Sorin presents a selection of old and recent artworks alike alongside a new creation designed for the central courtyard area, the Patio. Video installations and optical theatres reveal the artist’s taste for the poetry of illusion.


Pierrick Sorin was born in 1960 in Nantes, where he graduated from the School of Fine Arts in 1988. He soon rose to prominence, developing his distinctive means of expression through video art from the 1990s onwards. With a penchant for self-filming, he designs sketches shot through with humour, casting himself in different roles on sets cobbled together with real or imaginary objects.
Over time, his works have taken diverse forms, including short films, visual installations and devices with holographic effects, also known as optical theatres. From 2006 onwards, Pierrick Sorin also began designing, either independently or jointly, stage sets and show productions, especially for opera.

For the exhibition Pierrick Sorin. Saving Face(s), more than twenty artworks - some old and others more recent - have been put on display, showing the myriad aspects of his work. There is a common thread running through all of them: the recurring physical presence of the artist who takes on all the roles himself. With a sense of humour and mockery, Pierrick Sorin plays all the characters in his work, who tend to come across as clumsy, awkward or shy, in a manner reminiscent of burlesque cinema. This poetry of illusion, which resonates with the legacy of Georges Méliès or Jacques Tati, questions, with subtle irony, the process of how the images presented are constructed and their validity. In response to the complexity of the world, Pierrick Sorin veers towards an absurd world - one that is serious yet funny - and explores, in a comical way, both the foundations of an artistic approach and the human condition. An intimate, playful work that shakes up the way we see and perceive things.

The exhibition unfolds across two spaces: :

  • The Patio

The displays, designed by the artist with the curator Katell Jaffrès, are organised around the work Peindre et nettoyer, ou la volonté à l’œuvre [Painting and cleaning, or determination at work], produced for the exhibition and showcased in the middle of the Patio. This brand-new installation shows a man, a window cleaner, busy painting on panes of glass that are materialised by see-through video screens. This piece is a way of expressing the artist’s offbeat perspective on everyday life and the utilitarian. The mundane act of cleaning thus becomes the vehicle for an artistic experience challenging, not just the character himself, but also the exhibition’s visitors.
All around, some installations operate at a large scale while others, like the optical theatres, are staged in the peripheral galleries. Another space brings together smaller pieces, conjuring up the domestic atmosphere of a living room.

  • La Chapelle de l’Oratoire [Oratory Chapel]

In the Chapelle de l’Oratoire [Oratory Chapel], Pierrick Sorin reconfigures the installation Le Balai mécanique [The Mechanical Broom], an artwork paying tribute to Fernand Léger and his 1924 film Ballet mécanique , recently presented at the Musée national Fernand Léger in Biot.


- Pierrick Sorin, Pierrick Transhistorik, 2016, théâtre optique. Courtesy de l’artiste. Photo : © Pierrick Sorin. © Adagp, Paris, 2024

General curator:
Sophie Lévy, Director and Curator of the Musée d’arts de Nantes.

Scientific curator:
Katell Jaffrès, Head of the Contemporary Art Collection at the Musée d’arts de Nantes.


The Musée d’arts de Nantes would like to thank its sponsor, Banque Palatine, for financially supporting the exhibition, as well as the Fonds Métropolitain pour la Culture.

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The museum would like to thank the State – Ministry of Culture – DRAC des Pays de la Loire for the subsidy from which the exhibition benefits.

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The museum extends its sincere gratitude to its media partners who, through their support, are playing an active part in promoting the exhibition to the public and in bringing visitors to see it.

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The exhibition is part of the Voyage à Nantes, for which the museum is very grateful.


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