Jardins in the Grand Palais

A day in Paris | Cultural events | Exhibitions | Museums | About art
chateau_de_la_ballue_expo_jardin_at the_grand_palais by Esprit de France
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The garden as a botanical ensemble and artistic construction.

Our green heritage is currently generating growing interest with almost 2,000 gardens classed as historic monuments in France. This is why the exhibition at the Grand Palais, JARDINS, arouses a vivid curiosity even if the theme seems rooted in contradiction with the aspirations of a museum. How can the changing, ephemeral and in-situ characteristics of a garden be presented in an exhibition a priori defined by an opposite approach? That of the Grand Palais avoids the obstacle by proposing an original and dense journey, full of developments, as it is interested in the garden as a botanical ensemble and artistic construction.

Garden art lays actually its first foundations during the Renaissance, in the light of excavations made on ancient sites such as those of Hadrian’s villa in Tivoli. It is based on both scientific and artistic knowledge: optics and the rules of perspective are as important as the cycle of seasons. To tackle these questions, the exhibition begins by differentiating the various elements that make up the vocabulary of gardens: earth and humus, plants, trees, borders composed by a gardener honored here with his tools. The sumptuous jewel flowers produced by Van Cleef & Arpels or Cartier, the astonishing yellow rudbeckia made by Blaschka father and son, the rare cyanotypes by Anna Atkins (the first photographs on a blue background dating back to 1845), the delicate Iris watercolors by Patrick Neu have filled us with admiration.

The garden is then considered from another point of view, that of wandering through alleys, groves, passages without forgetting the belvederes and the grand vistas designed at the scale of a landscape. It is also the articulation through time that imposes itself: time for conception and for the  changing seasons, time for the evolution of its forms and its uses. It is the opportunity to rediscover 18th century French paintings by Watteau and Fragonard, or early 20th century ones by Monet, Cézanne, August Macke or Klimt, whose mosaic-like park is on the poster of the event. As for us, within the beautiful installation by Yann Monel, we have enjoyed finding the famous gardens of the Château de la Ballue (next to the Mont Saint Michel), a member of the Esprit de France Hotels and Demeures Collection. A magical place, re-created by the Mathiot-Mathon family, that we strongly recommend and which illustrates Michel Foucault's words: "The garden is the smallest part of the world and it is the whole of the world at the same time”.