Daniel Buren, a French conceptual artist, has been working for five decades with stripes. Using various colors, sizes and materials, Buren applies the stripes to different objects and environments. His chosen environments have ranged from esteemed museums to grungy bus stops. Buren’s latest target, however, was the Louis Vuitton Foundation building. Above the building are 12 glass-paneled “sails” that tower and seem to float above the museum; these Buren carefully glossed over with several translucent colored gels, converting the sails into checkerboards of color. The installation, called “The Observatory of Light”, opened this month and will run through the end of the year.
Buren describes his stripes as a tool to draw attention to a specified space. For example, inside the museum, Buren’s stripes provide verticality by always pointing toward the ground, unlike much of the architecture in the building. Seen from the outside of the building, the stripes provide more of a color-oriented experience for the viewer. As the sun moves across the sky, the colors in the painted panels stretch across the buildings and ground, picking up shades and hues of their surroundings such as green from trees and grass and red of nearby brick buildings and then reflecting those colors back onto whatever space or object the colored light hits.
Buren also has entertainment plans for the Louis Vuitton Foundation. From June 2nd – 4th, Buren has planned a series of performances, titled the “BurenCirque”, that will be performed in tents on the building’s lawn. The actors in each tent are to be asked to simply react to the space and the primary colors displayed. All three tents will perform shows simultaneously, with colliding noises issuing from each, so that the audience receives a multisensory experience. These works by Buren are an interesting and original way to create art that has a strong relationship with its setting, as well as a prime example of how the natural world can manipulate our perception of a created object.