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ELIASSON

Danish artist Eliasson plans gigantic fountain for Versailles

Olafur Eliasson plans an "incredibly high" fountain at the Palace of Versailles.

Danish artist Eliasson plans gigantic fountain for Versailles
Olafur Eliasson posing beside his art installation "Ice Watch" made with parts of Greenland's ice cap, on display in front of the Pantheon in Paris. Photo: Eric Feferberg/Scanpix
The Danish-Icelandic artist, whose iconic domestic projects include the 'Your rainbow panorama' at the ARoS Aarhus Art Museum and Copenhagen's recently-opened Cirkelbroen, said on Monday he wanted to “make dreams come true” with his latest project in France.
 
He plans to follow Anish Kapoor's controversial “Queen's vagina” sculpture at the Palace of Versailles outside Paris with “an incredibly high” fountain in its gardens.
 
But he refused to saw how big the jet of water which will be shot from the top of the crane in the Grand Canal would be, telling AFP cryptically that the “size is decided by the confidence in the more cosmic Baroque”.
 
“Of course I could tell you how many metres it is, but I am not going to because we need to leave it to the audience to make up their minds how high is high,” he said.
 
An enormous fountain did feature in the original plans for the baroque 17th-century palace drawn up by the “Sun King” Louis XIV's architect Andre Le Notre, but was never realised despite attempts to pump water over a hill from the mighty river Seine.
 
“We are going to make the impossible possible,” the artist declared, “to make dreams come true.”
 
Eliasson, 49, conceded that he was “behaving like a small arrogant king” by not revealing the enormity of his creation but said “aesthetic and cultural muscle” was not decided by size alone.
 
'Incredibly high'
Nonetheless, he said he had designed it to be viewed from Versailles' Hall of Mirrors and from the “terrace in front of the palace, where it will be beautifully tall and well proportioned to the horizon.
 
“And when you walk down to the Fountain of Apollo it will be incredibly high,” he added.
 
The artist is also transforming two groves or “bosquets” in the palace's gigantic gardens, creating an enchanted fog in one which he hopes the public will feel free to “fool around” inside.
 
“The circular curtain of mist [in the Bosquet de l'Etoile] offers the opportunity to run around and to become a fool… it is a true folly,” he said.
 
While on windy days it “might barely be there… on a sunny day there might be rainbows” which would allow people to behave like “butterflies” he said.
 
The artist argued that turning “cultural institutions into places where people can meet and argue” was crucial to real citizenship, particularly in places such as Versailles, which symbolised France's absolute monarchy.
 
Glacial dust
Eliasson roamed around the palace in the dark at night to get a feel for it, he said, going through secret doors and down hidden corridors.
 
He said he was also creating installations for inside the palace, some of which are so subtle that they may not be noticed by some of the one million visitors likely to pour through the palace over the summer.
 
Eliasson, who grew up partly in Iceland, will also decorate the Colonnade Grove with the dust left by a melting Greenland glacier that also featured in an installation he made in Copenhagen in 2014 and repeated for the COP21 climate change conference in Paris earlier this year.
 
His Versailles works will go on show from June 7th to October 30th.
 
Eliasson has previously wowed New Yorkers with his 10-storey urban waterfalls and Londoners with his giant trippy sunset at Tate Modern.

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ELIASSON

Danish artist to ‘hold up in the sky’ at Versailles

Danish artist Olafur Eliasson has installed a giant waterfall that cascades into the Grand Canal of the royal gardens at the Palace of Versailles outside of Paris.

Danish artist to 'hold up in the sky' at Versailles
Photo: Anders Sune Berg/Chateau de Versailles Official Website
It is so big he claimed it “almost holds up the sky”.
 
But Danish artist Olafur Eliasson refused Monday to reveal just how tall the giant waterfall he has created at France's Palace of Versailles actually is.
 
“The height is perfect,” he told reporters as he unveiled the spectacular installation which cascades into the Grand Canal of the famous royal gardens outside Paris.
 
“Just as I intended it will obscure the sun when it sets” on Midsummer's Day, said the artist, who has previously wowed New Yorkers with his 10-storey urban waterfalls and Londoners with a huge trippy sunset at the Tate Modern gallery.
 
 

Photo: Anders Sune Berg/Chateau de Versailles Official Website
 

(Photo: Anders Sune Berg/Chateau de Versailles Official Website)
 
 “Of course I could tell you how many metres it is, but I am not going to because we need to leave it to the public to make up their minds how high is high,” he said.
 
Earlier he admitted to AFP that he was “behaving like a small arrogant king” in not revealing its height, adding cryptically that the “size (of the waterfall) is decided by the confidence in the more cosmic Baroque”.
 
Eliasson said he wanted to get away from a “world where everything is reduced to statistics… to resist the idea that we have always to quantify the unquantifiable.”
 
Instead, he insisted the eight works he has created for the palace built by “Sun King” Louis XIV, the most absolute of France's absolute monarchs, were created to give “everyone the chance to become a king and queen.
 
Lost in the mist
“It is about decentralising the hierarchy of the perspective… (to let everyone) winkle out the secrets” of the visual tricks Louis XIV and his architects used to impress and overawe visitors to Versailles.
 
His other works include what he hopes will be an enchanted misty ring in one of the gardens' many groves called the “Fog Assembly” in which visitors are encouraged to “lose themselves”.
 

Photo: Anders Sune Berg/Chateau de Versailles Official Website
 
Unfortunately, its full effect was somewhat obscured by a real fog on the morning of its opening. The waterfall too was sometimes lost in the mist.
 
An enormous fountain had featured in the original plans for the baroque 17th-century palace drawn up by Louis XIV's architect Andre Le Notre, but was never realised despite attempts to pump water over a hill from the river Seine.
 
“We are going to make the impossible possible,” Eliasson had earlier declared, “to make dreams come true”.
 

Photo: Anders Sune Berg/Chateau de Versailles Official Website
 
But Mother Nature in the shape of the floods that swelled the Seine last week almost undid his plans, the 49-year-old artist admitted.
 
 “Several people… kept working in the downpours while their homes were threatened by the water,” he said, paying tribute to the workers who helped install the artworks.
 
Climate change is a major theme for the artist, who grew up in Iceland. Another of the works he has created in the Colonnade Grove at Versailles is from dust left by a melting Greenland glacier that also featured in an installation he made for the COP21 climate change conference in Paris late last year.
 

Eliasson with his glacier installation in Paris last year. Photo: AFP
 
“For some people it might look like worthless mud,” he said, but the fertility of “this dust is what made civilisation”.
 
Eliasson's installations — which will be on show until October 30 — follow British-Indian artist Anish Kapoor's controversial “Queen's vagina” sculpture at the palace last year.
 
It was repeatedly defaced, once with anti-Semitic graffiti, which drew condemnation from French President Francois Hollande.
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