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Monday, May 23, 2005

Daniel Buren lecture II

- this is the second posting of the Daniel Buren lecture. The first post is here.

A Belgian gallery asked Buren to show with them in the early 70's(?) . He accepted and requested that the gallery a. choose the single color for the announcements and b. don't send them. The gallery made a lot of red announcement cards and when Buren arrived he posted a trail of them to the outside wall of the gallery building like breadcrumbs right up to the gallery's entrance. The trail continued around the door and along the gallery's interior walls. He showed at that same gallery another year and did the exact same thing with yellow cards, another year with blue cards, each year another color and another memory of place and color. That line of colored cards is echoed in the green stripes of the current Guggenheim installation.

Buren then began a kind of unprompted defense of his work - "when people want to make an easy critique of my work... it's true ... you can say that, but if you want to be serious you can't say that". Nobody had said anything (as far as I could tell), so this may have been prompted by some past criticism of that Belgian piece. He next showed a selection of his LA bus stop bench images. I think this was in relation to the above defense.

I've just looked at I think every Daniel Buren image on the internet and am disappointed that I can't find any photos of so much of his work. Lots of photos on artnet of things you can buy at galleries but no photos of the above-mentioned LA bus stop bench pieces (UPDATE: found some!) and I'm really surprised and disappointed not to find any photos of two big wild projects he talked about in his lecture. One was a large vaulted interior space - filled with columns and arches - under which he painted black and white stripes. A platform/floor diagonal to the space was installed which was then covered with mirror. The space received sunlight from windows along the top of the wall and the mirrored tilted floor doubled the architecture and doubled the light. All the columns and arches became circles and elongated ovals, sunshine shone from the ceiling and floor. Very disorienting, very Piranesi or Escher.

The other big project I can't believe I can find no images for was a September 2004 project done at Versailles. If you look at this photograph you will note that after the fountain and long expanse of green grass the landscape seems to tilt up. That blue/gray space beyond is water (here it is at a more direct angle). Buren said that this photo is taken from what the king himself viewed, "the way to view my park in Versailles" - "everything you see is completely false, created with geometry and trompe l'oeil". Buren showed us a photo of his Versailles project taken from this "king's view" and we saw what looked like a large black and white striped gate or window at the beginning of the long expanse of grass, framing the view of the lawn (something similar to this older piece but much larger). In fact, we learned from seeing shots at other angles that Buren's piece was not vertical at all but that his stripes (white only) were pieces of wood laid along the length of the entire lawn. From the king's angle view it looked like a vertical gate. It's hard to explain, sorry I have no pictures.

Buren - "All of these laws are false. They are a specific organization. They are not natural. On the right and left (of the king's view of the garden) you can lose yourself, but in the king's view the law was untouchable. Exept this law was false. It was a complete construction. As soon as I realized tht the full garden was done with very false perspective... I returned the perspective."