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19/09/2008

Les Deux Plateaux, Colonnes de Buren, courtyard of the Palais Royal, Paris


These two photos were taken in the courtyard of the Palais Royal in Paris, and are showing "Les Deux Plateaux", more commonly referred to as the "Colonnes de Buren" ("Buren's Columns"), a 3,000 m² sculpture, 260 columns, created by Daniel Buren (a French conceptual artist) in 1986.
This provoked an intense debate over the integration of contemporary art and historic buildings (the
Palais Royal, completed in 1624, was originally home of Cardinal Richelieu).
Sometimes classified as an abstract minimalist, Daniel Buren is known best for using regular, contrasting maxi stripes to integrate the visual surface and architectural space, notably historical, landmark architecture.

See also an interesting (full) press article from
The Independant - by John Lichfield, from which you will find a few extracts : "[...] Two decades later, the columns have become popular as a slalom course for skateboarders and a minimalist climbing frame for children. They are beloved of tourists, who love to clamber on to the shorter stumps and have their photographs taken, posing as opera singers or politicians or sportsmen [...] But the giant, walk-in sculpture also originally a light show, a sound show and a fountain is no longer popular with the man who created it. Daniel Buren, 69, one of France's most internationally acclaimed modern artists, says he would like his best-known and most-visited achievement to be dismantled. "It is a work of art which has already been 50 per cent destroyed," he said. [...] The sculpture is officially called Les Deux Plateaux (The Two Levels). It has a subterranean section, covered by metal grilles, through which water is supposed to flow merrily, illuminated by floodlights, to reflect the columns above. Eight years ago, one of the floodlights came loose. It was shoved back into place with a lump of concrete. All of the other lights fused. They have never been repaired. Seven years ago, the running water packed up for reasons unknown. It has never been restored. The underground sections of the sculpture have since filled up with rubbish and coins, cast hopefully by tourists into a non-functioning fountain. The columns had also begun to look grey and tatty. They have recently been polished, for only the second time in two decades. "Would they show only half a work of art in a museum?" Buren asks. "No other fountain in Paris has been left like that, without water. Six months, I could have accepted, but for seven years? Frankly, any pavement in the capital is better maintained." [...] The Culture Ministry insists that it has money in its 2008 budget to restore light and running water to the Buren columns. The budget includes €14m for restoration of the Palais Royal, including €3.2m for restoration of Les Deux Plateaux. Buren says that he has heard all that before, from three previous culture ministers. Budgets were agreed; work was to begin; nothing happened [...]"
Let's see !


Just for the ones of you who wonder what was there before the Colonnes.... well it was a car park !

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