January 27, 2023

Daniel Buren’s Monumenta: Eccentric Paris

Grand Palais

 Exhibition at The Grand Palais, MONUMENTA 2012

Since 2007, once per year “Monumenta” invites international artists to showcase a specific and unique project in the monumental Grand Palais. After Anselm Kiefer, Richard Serra, Christian Boltanski and Anish Kapoor, it’s Daniel Buren’s turn to invade the space.


Daniel Buren’s artistic past is filled with architecture-related projects. His experience in that matter defines his artistic activity itself; the work in situ. This notion signifies that the artwork emerge from the space in which it is created. By this systematic examination of the sites in order to create; his close relation with colour; as his works emanate from the rise of conceptual and minimal art; and his capacity of using light as a medium; based on the logic in situ, it is obvious that Buren HAD to appropriate the Grand Palais for this year’s Monumenta.

Having entered that enormous door for last year’s Monumenta, I was wondering how this year’s artist had assaulted the space. Knowing Buren I was expecting something simple but impressive, thinking back to his street work at Palais Royal in 2008; the black and white striped columns. At the first glance, colour is what captures your attention, the relation of colour and light in that majestic space defines the word harmony. The Grand Palais’s glass roof light melts with all the round-shaped colours that are suspended above our heads. To increase that melodious arrangement, Buren added rounded mirrors on the floor; when standing on one of them, you feel unbalanced, as if the space was taking control of your sights. The harmony presented embraces nature; walking underneath the green, orange, red and blue, it felt like looking at water lilies from inside the water on a sunny day.Thereupon, taking steps back and admiring it as a whole took me to a whole other dimension. I suddenly started to feel as if I were between Tim Burton’s garden and Gondry’s brain.

Here, his notion of in situ has a direct relation to a concept of nature, the fact that the art emerges from the space gives an approach of confusing truth, a natural harmony that was created by Buren. To be fully satisfied by the artwork, one needs not to expect a visit in a museum, but a ramble in a fantasy forest.

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