Daniel Buren Takes On The Grand Palais

Posted filed underArchitecture, France, Shows.


Established in 2007, the Monumenta series challenges an artist to occupy the vast open space of the Grand Palais of Paris. French artist Daniel Buren has a colorful response.

Laurent Wolf reports for Le Temps / Worldcrunch: “The Grand Palais is an enormous enclosed space, 13,500 square meters (145,000 square feet) without a single obstacle on the floor, covered by a dome 35 meters (115 feet) high.

What was originally meant to be a temporary building, built for the Universal Exposition of 1900, has become an architectural fixture in the French capital. It has been used for horse shows, auto shows, congresses, fashion shows, concerts, dance, and art exhibits. And since 2007, there has been Monumenta: a carte blanche given to an artist to occupy the vast nave under the changing Parisian sky. After Anselm Kiefer, Richard Serra in 2008, Christian Boltanski in 2010 and Anish Kapoor last year, it’s time for Daniel Buren to take on the challenge.

And indeed it’s a challenge! Daniel Buren says that the Grand Palais is “huge public square.” This public square is covered with a glass roof and its architecture is a performance. Monumenta is an exhibition like no other. Should the artist converse with the architecture, overcome it or discreetly slide into it?

Anselm Kiefer took a very traditional approach, valuable more for the pieces than for the use of space. After him, Richard Serra set up huge steel plates confronting the sky; Boltanski created a mind-blowing clothes cemetery with a crane manipulating a pile of garments, and Anish Kapoor shaped an enormous creature, frightening on the outside and welcoming inside. Each one of them turned the challenge into a conversation between the work and the Grand Palais.

In France, Daniel Buren is one of the few artists who has already faced such spaces, either in institutions like New York’s Guggenheim or the Centre Pompidou in Paris, or during international exhibitions like the Skulptur Projekte of Münster. Intervention in public spaces is Buren’s trademark, which he calls “in situ” pieces. Monumenta thus seemed to be just for him.”

Read on at Worldcrunch.