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Daniel Buren

Architecture | Contre – Architecture : Transposition | 2010 | Travail in situ

The exhibition by Daniel Buren in the Grand Hall of Mudam is the fruit of a joint invitation to the artist from Mudam and Centre Pompidou-Metz to create a specific installation in relation to their respective spaces. As it is often the case with his work, the installation the artist has conceived for Mudam is concerned with “frames” - be they aesthetic, architectural or institutional - which condition any exhibited art by rendering certain aspects visible.

© Daniel Buren : Architecture, contre-architecture : transposition, 2010, Travail in situ, Production Mudam Luxembourg Photo : Andrés Lejona

The work that Daniel Buren has developed over the last forty years is particularly familiar to a lot of Luxembourgers thanks to a series of outdoor pieces titled D’un cercle à l’autre Le paysage emprunté(From One Circle to Another - Borrowed Landscape) installed since 2001 in different locations in the city of Luxembourg. Taking the form of square panels, striped with orange and white bands and pierced with large round openings, it directs our attention towards different picturesque views of the the city, by presenting a framed “image”. The stripes were long considered by the artist to be a “visual tool”: without any particular meaning, but emblematic of his work, they act as a sign, basically serving to attract attention and direct the gaze. With time, they have also become the signature of the artist.

Through his installation at Mudam, Daniel Buren addresses the most symbolic “frame” of the museum, namely the architecture of Ieoh Ming Pei, while subverting, not without a certain irony, the invitation to exhibit in the central space of the Grand Hall (which in itself sums up the most important aspects of Pei’s architectural discourse). In response to these “constraints”, Daniel Buren is shifting an entire architectural fragment into the Grand Hall: his installation taking the life-size form of the museum pavilion (which has the same type of atrium as the Grand Hall).

© Daniel Buren : Architecture, contre-architecture : transposition, 2010, Travail in situ, Production Mudam Luxembourg Photo : Andrés Lejona

By exhibiting the architecture within the architecture through this installation of rare proportions, Daniel Buren is not only emphasizing certain architectural characteristics of the museum, he is also highlighting the function of the building as an “envelope” for art. It is not for the first time that Daniel Buren is subverting museum architecture like this. As in some of his previous interventions, he is exhibiting the museum within the museum here, thus drawing attention to the limits between interior and exterior, not just of the building, but of art itself.

Beyond this critical reading of artistic “frames”, Daniel Buren’s recent pieces are also distinguished by essentially pictorial considerations, which may evoke his early work of the 1960s when he adopted the most immediate possible approach to painting, signifying nothing other than itself. By using colour and light, two basic materials of pictorial art, Buren creates, with this coloured atrium, a sort of 3d painting which is only completed by the attentive gaze of viewers wandering through the space. It is the visual experience of the viewer that is of central interest to the artist.


  • Enrico Lunghi