Called Eccentric(s) travail in situ, the exhibit is part of Monumenta, an annual program that invites one world-renowned contemporary artist to create something spectacular in the building’s central cavity. Dating back to the 1900 World’s Fair, the palace is a challenging venue for sure, with 15,500 square metres of floor space to fill.
The fifth artist to receive the invite, Buren has taken over the nave with a forest of translucent plastic discs in blue, green, yellow and red, each one held up by iron legs. When the light from the vaulted glass roof pours in, visitors find themselves under a canopy of changing colours. Buren also added blue glass panels to the building’s central glass dome.
Buren is known for his massive public space projects. The 74-year-old French artist started out in the 1960s as a conceptualist. He became famous in the 1970s for creating public works using striped awning fabric commonly used at cafés and bistros around Paris.
Eventually white and bold-coloured stripes (most often red) became a defining feature of his work, and for decades his public installations consisted of either stripes painted onto buildings and plazas, or striped banners that were hung in ways that redefine public environments.
Recently, his pieces have become more sculptural, and he has collaborated with such architects as Jean Nouvel, with whom he is conceiving a public space in Colle di Val d’Elsa, Italy. He is also working with a group of architects and designers on a new tram line, expected to be completed in 2013, for the French city of Tours.
Eccentric(s) travail in situ is on view at the Grand Palais des Champes-Elysées in Paris until June 21, 2012.