Olafur Eliasson's Waterfall at Versailles - Aesthetic Post

Olafur Eliasson’s Waterfall at Versailles

Olafur Eliasson, Waterfall

Olafur Eliasson, Waterfall

Olafur Eliasson, Waterfall

As part of the Palace of Versailles’ annual contemporary art exhibition, artist Olafur Eliasson’s works are installed across the grounds, engaging visitors in a variety of ways. Eliasson, known for his large-scale installations that explore light, perception, and environmental issues, introduces unexpected experiences to Versailles, without interfering with the historic layout or landscape.

Perhaps the most striking installation is Waterfall, a monumental fountain that simulates the action of a waterfall and recalls his previous waterfall series in New York City. Viewed from front, the outpour of water appears to come from mid-air, cascading into the Grand Canal. A latticed tower of yellow steel girders provides the feature’s base; the installation is partly influenced by 15th-16th century French monarch Louis XIV’s landscape architect André Le Notre, who had planned an ambitious water feature for the garden that was never realized.

“This waterfall reinvigorates the engineering ingenuity of the past,” said Eliasson. “It is as constructed as the court was, and I’ve left the construction open for all to see – a seemingly foreign element that expands the scope of human imagination.”

Eliasson approached the château and gardens of Versailles as a site for experimentation, and all of the pieces exhibited were conceived specifically for the site. Other outdoor installations, where the theme is water, include Fog Assembly, which envelopes viewers in ring of mist, and Glacial Rock Flour Garden, introducing the residue of retracting glaciers to the grounds. Inside, mirrors and light are used to create effects and encourage visitor interaction, such as the piece titled Solar Compression, where a mirror glows with a thin rim of light, or The Curious Museum, where large-scale trompe l’oeil effects are created through reflections.

“The Versailles that I have been dreaming up is a place that empowers everyone,” said Eliasson. “It invites visitors to take control of the authorship of their experience instead of simply consuming and being dazzled by the grandeur.”

“It asks them to exercise their senses, to embrace the unexpected, to drift through the gardens, and to feel the landscape take shape through their movement.”

The exhibition is on display until October 30th, 2016, in Versailles, France.

More at: Olafur Elliason
Photos: Anders Sune Berg

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