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"Les couleurs : sculpture" artwork (Paris, France, summer 2002)

Last modified: 2016-04-02 by ivan sache
Keywords: couleurs : sculpture (les) |
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Les couleurs : sculpture

The artwork Les couleurs : sculpture, by Daniel Buren, is described as follows on the website of the Pierre & Marie Curie University, which hosts a part of the artwork:

The central tower of the University hosts a flag, which is a part of an artwork called Les couleurs : sculpture. The artwork is made of at least 15 banners, each of them being 2 m x 4 m and hoisted on the top of a private or public building in Paris. The complete artwork, that is the whole set of flags, can be seen from the [upper] terraces of the Centre Pompidou [a very controversial building located in the center of Paris, a.k.a. Centre Beaubourg, hosting inter alia the National Museum of Modern Art], either with naked eye or binoculars placed on the terraces for that purpose. The flags are made of alternating [vertical] coloured (one colour per flag) and white stripes of 8.7 cm width [this size is Buren's "golden number", which he also used in his controversial columns placed in the Palais-Royal courtyard]. There are five colours: blue, orange-yellow, violet, red, and green. The Beaubourg Museum is unique because the town and the whole artwork can be seen from its terraces [through the windows of the facade]. This flag design was already used by Buren for the opening of the Center Pompidou in 1977. Daniel Buren expresses a dialectic between inside and outside and questions essential notions of painting, such as perspective and framing.

The aforementioned website shows a violet striped flag. It has 45 stripes, with a coloured stripe at hoist and fly. This makes a flag of 3.915 m in length, probably approximated as 4 m in the above description. However, 400/8.7 = 45.897 and we may have expected 46 stripes to better approximate 4 m.

An other question is where the 15 flags are. From various sources, including my personal observation on 1 October 2002 in Paris, the current list is the following:

  • BHV [Bazar de l'Hôtel de Ville, a general department store]
  • St. James' Tower (Tour Saint-Jacques)
  • Théâtre de la Ville
  • Theâtre du Châtelet
  • La Samaritaine [a general department store]
  • Bourse du Commerce
  • Galeries Lafayette [A general department store]
  • Panthéon
  • Louvre Museum
  • Grand Palais Museum (orange yellow flag)
  • Pierre & Marie Curie University (violet flag)

Therefore, we lack 4 locations and 13 colours.

The design of the flags was also described in a paper published in Le Monde on 26 June 2002.

Ivan Sache, 2 October 2002