Palace of versailles

Minimalist art adorns the lawns of the Palace of Versailles

The opulent splendor of the Palace of Versailles’ Baroque architecture and meticulously sculpted lawns might seem the polar opposite of Lee Ufan’s minimalist art. Despite this contrast, however, the Korean-born painter and sculptor “Relatum,” a ten-part installation series dotting the palace grounds until November 2, plays harmoniously with its extravagant surroundings.

Relatum—Dialogue X, Lee Ufan, 2014. Photo © Tadzio and courtesy of the artist; Kamel Mennour, Paris; and Pace Gallery, New York

Following the principles of the Japanese Mono-ha movement, Ufan, who divides his time between studios in Paris and Kamakura, Japan, used only two basic ingredients for his pieces: stone and steel, respective symbols nature and industry. With very little intervention, he set them in heavy vignettes, starting with a 98-foot-long, 39-foot-tall curved steel arch anchored by two boulders at the top of the Gabriel Staircase. From here, “Relatum” descends into the garden with a series of undulating steel plates running the length of the central lawn, and continues through the quiet lanes of the labyrinthine groves.

Each installation creates dialogues between contemporary aesthetics and the sculpted gardens imagined by the great André Le Nôtre. The works, writes Ufan in the show’s artist statement, “whisper like a scene in the desert.”

Until November 2 at the Palace of Versailles;

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