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Jean-Michel Othoniel


Jean-Michel Othoniel, Basel, 2012

Since 1990 the French artist Jean-Michel Othoniel have earned international acclaim with his spectacular glass sculptures. His oversized sculptures – made of Murano glass – are magnificent installations that sometimes decorate whole house façades or public space. Glass as a material has a multifaceted impact on the viewer: it is beautiful and seductive but it is also a cold, massive and heavy substance.  This impression of beauty and magic, which draws the viewer in, is the key to opening the dialogue between artist and viewer, as Othoniel explains: “In my opinion, beauty is a trap. First of all you fall in love with it, you are attracted by it, as butterflies are attracted by a flower.” So after entering the world of the artist and his art, the viewer becomes aware of the many different meanings and associations linked with his work, beginning with erotic associations, moving on to suggestions of a more precious material and concluding with confusion about the disproportionate format.
Born in 1964 in Saint-Etienne, France, Jean-Michel Othoniel was the French Academy’s artist-in-residence at the Villa Medici in Rome (1995/1996). One of his most famous masterpieces in glass is Le Kiosque des Noctambules, an installation at the entrance of the metro station 'Palais Royal Musée du Louvre' in Paris, executed in 2000 in celebration of the centenary of the Parisian subway. He has also had solo exhibitions such as his show at The Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice in 1997 and at PS1 in New York in 1998. The Retrospective My Way opened at the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris 2011 and travelled to the Leeum Samsung Museum, Seoul, the Hara Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo, the Macau Museum of Art and the Brooklyn Museum, New York. Jean-Michel Othoniel lives and works in Paris.

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