Exhibition from May 6, 2014 to October 18, 2015

Currators : Anne & Julien

Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac (Paris) / West Mezzanine

World Tour until 2020:

Tattoos : Ritual. Identity. Obsession. (Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, Canada) from April 2, 2016 to September 5, 2016

Tattoo (The Field Museum, Chicago, USA) from October 21, 2016 to April 30, 2017

Tattoo. (Natural History Museum, Los Angeles, USA) from November 15, 2017 to April 30, 2018

Original Currators : Anne & Julien

Original Production : Musée du quai Branly – Jacques Chirac (Paris)

Now, restricted by the growth of the media giving tattooing over-exposure, it is writing its own modern history in pace with the perfecting of new technologies. As a result, the subject is today being talked about everywhere, and accepted by many. But on what bases?

So, little by little, tattooing abandoned the exclusively traditional, craftsman-like arena and started to question the subject and its interpretation. With motifs suited to the occasion being systematically imposed and proposed in tattoo shops and parlours, the tattooer nowadays indulges in free figures. In this art, the shift is fundamental—it frees “the hand” from the mechanical repetition to which it was confined—and gives glimpses of an unexplored territory where the imagination can become the driving force, the matrix.

The specific and unprecedented choices of Anne & Julien as currators force an abandonment of scientific observation in order to penetrate “the artistic juices”, and celebrate the creative, living, contemporizing dimension of the tattoo. Alongside the transcription of things ancient, and of the ubiquity and diversity of tattooing practices throughout the world, and presented for millennia by way of rare artefacts, the exhibition pays tribute to the pioneers of the modern era—the “heroes” responsible for the changes the tattoo has undergone. And since this artistic trend is one of the most dynamic of our day and age, we have elected to let its early representatives have their say—the tattooers, those guardians of the temple. Following this rationale, two kinds of studio works have been produced for the show. First, 13 volumes, 13 “excerpts” of bodies, imprints cast on live models, where the experimental material has been exclusively developed for the occasion with Atelier 69, then tested and validated by a representative of the confraternity, the French tattooer Tin-tin. 13 surfaces which 13 tattooers have inked, in the strict exercise of their art.

By machine, or using traditional tools, based on their daily practice. To create a tattoo within a tattoo, virgin canvases were given to 20 other tattooers, for the so-called classic application of the “body suit”. In tattooing, creating your “body suit” with ink, acrylic, water colour, graphite, felt- tip [...] is a wager. Among the tattooers, all the active continents are represented (Europe, America, Asia and Oceania). Lastly, a totally novel series of photographs presents the 2 most recent trends in modern tattooing, a locker-room of graphic aesthetics which anchors the third millennium.

We know that this exhibition is bold. This is a deliberate choice. Its intent is to link up with the tremendous energy flow that is shaking the present-day movement. A huge thank you to the musée du quai Branly (The Museum of Indigenous Arts) (and to Stéphane Martin and all his teams), for having understood our approach, supported it, and opened the doors to the museum’s amazing collections for us. A huge thank you to Tin-tin for his solidarity and know-how. A big thank you, too, to Loretta, and Titine and Filip Leu for their freedom, open-mindedness, and bottomless generosity. Without all these people, nothing would have been possible.


Australia -

Taryn Teuira Beri -

Belgium -

Jeff /

Kostek -

China -

Dong Dong -

Czech Republic -

Musa -

France -

Chimé /

Guy Le Tatooer /

Jean-Luc Navette  /

Tin-Tin /

Yann Black -

Germany -

Luke Atkinson -

Italy -

Rudy Fritsch -

Japan -

Horimitsu /

Horiyoshi III /

Sabado /

Shige -

Malaysia -

Ernesto Kalum -

Mexico -

Dr Lakra -

New Zealand -

Mark Kopua -

Spain -

Robert Hernandez -

Sweden -

Jonas Nyberg -

Switzerland -

Filip Leu /

Sabine Gaffron -

Taiwan -

Hsu Gao Bin -

Thailand -

Bump -

United Kingdom -

Alex Binnie /

Duncan X /

Lynn Akura /

Xed Lehead -

United States -

Aisea Toetu'U /

Don Ed Hardy /

Elle Festin /

Freddy Corbin /

Grime /

Jack Rudy /

Leo Zulueta /

Marcus Pacheco /

Mike Davis /

Paul Booth /

Sulu'ape Steve Looney -

Western Samoa -

Sulu'ape Family -