Lost In Eden: A Conversation with Jean-Michel Othoniel
by Francine Koslow Miller
On May 12, 2015, French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel celebrated the official
opening of his grand fountain sculptures at Versailles, the former home of
Louis XIV. The three monumental glass sculptures are sited within the newly
renovated Water Theatre Grove created by landscape designer Louis Benech.
The original grove was designed in 1671–74 by André Le Nôtre. Severely damaged
by a storm in 1999, it was reforested, and in 2011, Othoniel and Benech
won a competition to redesign the place where the Sun King once danced. Collectively
titled Les Belles Danses, the fountains represent the first permanent
contemporary art commission at Versailles. Four years in the making, Othoniel’s
dancers were inspired by a rare 18th-century book on dance steps. This jubilant
project, composed of more than 1,700 giant blown-glass beads, was already in the
works when Othoniel was artist-in-residence at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner
Museum in 2011. Les Belles Danses debuted while the Gardner was showing
“Secret Flower Sculptures,” an exhibition featuring large flower sculptures,
mono types, as well as models and source materials for Othoniel’s Versailles project.
...see the entire article in the print version of October's Sculpture magazine.
La Rose des vents, 2015. aluminum, steel, and gold leaf, 131 x 96.5 x 78.75 in.