Normally on Sunday night, you’ll find me at home, enjoying the last bits of the weekend before its back to work the next day. But considering that Lizzy was returning to Seattle the following morning, and she wanted to see Daniel Buren’s Monumenta before she left, I found myself biking along the Seine around 8pm. With the sun only just beginning to set, the Grand Palais looked particularly magnificent from across the river. A light breeze tickled the trees while the glass dome shimmered with the promise of an exciting exhibition.
For any of those unfamiliar with this annual exhibition, each year Monumenta invites a well-known contemporary artist to create a work to occupy the entirety of the Grand Palais. Last year it was Anish Kapoor who impressed everyone with his Leviathan, a gigantic monster-like balloon that you could actually step into. This year, it’s Daniel Buren who accepted the challenge of creating a piece that matches the size and grandeur of the exhibition space.
When I first heard that Buren would be this year’s pick, I was a little disappointed. When I hear “Buren” I immediately think of his columns near Palais Royale that I find to be pretty uninspiring and lacking in creativity. But when I stepped into the Grand Palais, it was nothing like those bland black and white columns. It was like a modern kaleidoscope.
Entitled “Excentrique(s), travail in situ,” guests enter unconventionally through the north entrance, instead of the usual east entrance that’s used for most of the Grand Palais’ nave-based exhibitions. In this way, you experience the space gradually, slowly consuming the iron and glass palace as you move below transparent circles of green, yellow, blue, and orange.
What I loved most about Buren’s colorful and almost kitschy stab at his Monumenta was the piece’s ability to continuously alter your perception of light and space; colors melted into the cement ground, the sheen of the circles playfully reflected other passerbys in a mirror-like image, and the size of the Grand Palais was experienced with brand new proportions. Its really a multi-faceted piece that changes with movement, as you pass from one spot to the next, as well as time, with the passing of sunshine and light.
– MONUMENTA runs until June 21st. Tickets are 3 EUR. –