Daniel Buren’s Monumenta exhibit goes minimalist

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Daniel Buren’s Monumenta exhibit goes minimalist

PARIS - Art lovers should expect the unexpected in the latest offering of the groundbreaking and normally roof-scraping Monumenta exhibit, as artist Daniel Buren brings the Grand Palais’ lofty ceiling for the first time - literally - down to earth.

Monumenta, the hugely mediatized annual art project that’s in its fifth year dares an artist of international stature to “move into’’ the nave of one of the French capital’s most monumental buildings, and own it.

With a space measuring 13,500 square meters (145,313 square feet) and 45 meters (148 feet) high, it’s a dizzying feat for any artist, but especially for Buren.

The man, a national treasure in France, is a minimalist artist.

Last year’s leviathan-shaped gargantua by British artist Anish Kapoor is a hard act to follow, scraping the nave’s ceiling and attracting more than 270,000 people in six and a half weeks.

But, as ever, Buren, who won 2007’s Praemium Imperiale award, akin to the Nobel Prize in art, thinks outside the box.

Buren’s attempt sees a myriad of translucent circles in red, blue, green and yellow installed horizontally like a second human-scale roof, 2.5 meters high, supported by his signature 8-centimeter (3-inch) bars striped in black and white.

The central part directly underneath the nave is empty, save for nine circular mirrors on the floor shining upwards.

At first look, it seems as if Buren has failed his Monumenta homework - to fill the space. But think again: What’s the medium that fills not only the Grand Palais but every interior ever seen? In a word: light.

“The spirit of this place is sun, is light, which cuts through the color in the circles .?.?. You need to feel for the space you’re in .?.?. The Grand Palais with the glass ceiling has such beautiful light all the time - even on a rainy day,’’ Buren said.

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