It is often forgotten but La Défense is not a place reserved for businessmen. It is also a great playground for architecture lovers, photographers, families and art lovers. Indeed in the middle of the towers no less than 73 works of art can be seen in the open air all year round and even more during the summer on the occasion of Les Extatiques.
For more than three months, this event invites artists to create works especially for the occasion that the public can come and admire free of charge and in full respect of health measures since this amazing contemporary art exhibition is in the open air! For the 3rd edition of Les Extatiques some artworks are also exhibited around La Seine Musicale, a nice pretext – if one is needed – to go and discover this theatre inaugurated in 2017.
“Nothing to see” !
Presented until October 4, 2020, this edition of the Extatiques is subtitled Rien à voir (Nothing to see) “in the sense that the works presented are either improbable because they defy the senses, gravity, logic or codes of power, or conceal the hidden visible. Still other works are composed and decomposed by the gaze” – as Fabrice Bousteau, Curator and Artistic Director of the event, explains.
Rest assured, there are some beautiful works to discover along a walk between La Seine Musicale and La Défense.
5 favourite artworks
About twenty artworks are waiting for you and I would not want to reveal all of them here but, to give you an idea, here are my 5 favorites:
Felice Varini – Yellow, red and blue ellipses arches
Felice Varini is an artist well known to architecture lovers. For several years now, this magician has been deploying his geometric forms on urban landscapes. For those who don’t pay particular attention to them, Varini’s drawings must seem quite astonishing, but if one has fun looking for the key to reading them, then everything becomes clear.
For the magic to work, you have to find THE point of view, the exact place where the multiple forms align perfectly and form a drawing. After having fun at La Villette or Carcassonne, to name but two examples, it is on the walls of La Seine Musicale that Felice Varini has deployed all his talent.
Elsa Sahal – Meander
Climbing up to the Jardin Bellini overlooking the Seine Musicale, we find ourselves face to face with a very strange shape. I present “Méandre”, an aquatic work by Elsa Sahal (awarded the MAIF Prize for sculpture in 2008). This sea monster seems to have come to us through the waters of the Seine and invites us to meditate on our relationship with life by asking us if this form is in symbiosis with its environment or if, on the contrary, it is fighting for its survival.
All around, aquatic flowers and corals are at the disposal of visitors who can sit down to better contemplate the work. The prowess of this creation is to have succeeded in giving a liquid appearance to a structure that is nevertheless quite rigid.
Fabrice Hyber – MenWomen and Friends
For more than twenty years, Fabrice Hyber has been developing his art on the material of a rhizome that he distributes all over the world. For Les Extatiques, he proposes fountain sculptures representing small green characters.
At La Seine Musicale, at the top of the stairs leading to the Jardin Bellini, you will cross the road of one of his sculptures. While at La Défense, it is in the basin of Takis that you will find his characters. These intriguing green men are the link between the two territories of the 2020 edition of Les Extatiques.
Ivan Argote – Strenghtlessness
Ivan Argote’s work seems to defy the laws of physics! What is this obelisk folded like an earthworm doing on the esplanade of La Défense?!
With this sculpture, Ivan Argote hijacks the famous obelisk of the Place de la Concorde which had been offered in 1830 by Egypt to France in exchange for… a clock that never worked! By depicting this monument in such a naive way, Ivan Argote cancels its symbols of power and identity. A way for him to use fantasy and disobedience to change the way we see the world.
Julien Berthier – Pigeon
Here are works that one could easily not notice as they blend into the urban landscape, and that’s what Julien Berthier’s mischief is all about! But which works are we talking about? Hyperrealistic sculptures of pigeons!
This animal often considered as a nuisance is so much a part of our daily life that we now pay very little attention to it. With his project “Pigeon”, Julien Berthier honours this bird by representing it in bronze, a noble material. A way of moving what is banal to the artistic field. “An important part of my work is placed in a blind spot, where no one is really looking.”
Placed on other public sculptures as real pigeons would, Julien Berthier’s works become a “plus product”. A marketing wink that will not fail to make us think of the verb “pigeon”, an attitude that our society is often a victim of. The circle is complete!
Now it’s your turn to discover these amazing works and the fifteen or so others that await you on the esplanade of La Défense and all around La Seine Musicale. Enjoy your visit!
Esplanade de La Défense
La Seine Musicale
Île Seguin, 92100 Boulogne-Billancourt
Accessible 7/7 24h/24 except for the works presented in the Jardin Bellini of La Seine Musicale: access every day from 11am to nightfall.
Article created in collaboration with Les Extatiques.