In 800 Signs

There has been an official release claiming that to celebrate Pompidou Centre’s 40 years anniversary, some «major» sculptures from the museum’s collection would be exhibited «on the floor» at La Monnaie de Paris. A thorough overhaul, a kind of editorial on how sculpture has evolved and what it stands for now. And the journey is definitely worthwhile.

James Lee Byars’s installation Red Angels of Marseille, a spectacular piece displaying a striking resemblance to the work of Jean-Michel Othoniel, covers the deliciously checkered floors with a maze of red pearls spirals. Thereafter wandering through the gorgeous 18th century salons, one is struck by a string of emotions ranging from ice-cutting intimacy to joyful laughter.

Its is both amazing and invigorating to (re)discover that sculpture is also about flats, smells, light, vivid colours and a vibrant dramatic tension. 

James Lee Byars, Red Angels of Marseille, visual © Araso
James Lee Byars, Red Angels of Marseille, visual © Araso

More Signs

In the antechamber, right beside Pipilotti Rist’s welcoming star-spangled floor (his video installation Under the sky is mesmerizing), a look at Colombian visual artist Ana Mendieta’s photographs of the artist digging her own grave, shaped after her body (Tumba #5) and her bloody prints will catch one wiping a tear at the corner of an eye.

Fortunately Marcel Duchamp’s Trébuchet (Trap) is just a few steps away. As he kept stumbling on this coat rack, the artist ended up nailing it to the floor. Late Jean-Luc Vilmouth, the French artist passed away in 2015, whose baseline work was about interactions, imagined an Interaction with Hammer and Nails that just makes one want to rush to the nearest hardware store and start building a cabin.

Claudio Parmiggiani, Pittura Pura Luce, visual © Araso
Claudio Parmiggiani, Pittura Pura Luce, visual © Araso

Far from frozen, sculpture is alive, develops through human contact and is sometimes of evanescent nature. What a delight to find ourselves facing Claudio Parmiggiani’s Pure Light Paint, which lives up to expectations in an orgy of smells and colors. Meanwhile, Jochen Gerz’s disturbingly poetic installation invites us to take a walk on the word «live» written endlessly in chalk on La Monnaie’s sumptuous floors. The words vanish as the visitor follows the artist’s guidelines, making the piece’s self-destruction the only possible outcome of this celebration of life.


Floor naments at la Monnaie de Paris until July 9th 2017