Installation view of “Secret Flower Sculptures,” 2015.

Lost In Eden: A Conversation with Jean-Michel Othoniel

On May 12, 2015, French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel celebrated the official opening of his grand fountain sculptures at Versailles, the former home of Louis XIV. The three monumental glass sculptures are sited within the newly renovated Water Theatre Grove created by landscape designer Louis Benech. The original grove was designed in 1671–74 by André Le Nôtre. Severely damaged by a storm in 1999, it was reforested, and in 2011, Othoniel and Benech won a competition to redesign the place where the Sun King once danced. Collectively titled Les Belles Danses, the fountains represent the first permanent contemporary art commission at Versailles. Four years in the making, Othoniel’s dancers were inspired by a rare 18th-century book on dance steps. This jubilant project, composed of more than 1,700 giant blown-glass beads, was already in the works when Othoniel was artist-in-residence at Boston’s Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in 2011. Les Belles Danses debuted while the Gardner was showing “Secret Flower Sculptures,” an exhibition featuring large flower sculptures, mono types, as well as models and source materials for Othoniel’s Versailles project. …see the entire article in the print version of October’s Sculpture magazine.