Design

Water Ballet at the Palace of Versailles

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The fountains-sculptures in Murano glass beads.

Philippe Chancel

A landscaper. An artist. Louis Benech and Jean-Michel Othoniel worked at the Château de Versailles to restore the grove of the Théâtre d'Eau. After two years of work, it opens in May 2015. The sculptures are inspired by baroque ballets.

In the gardens of Versailles, the grove of the Water Theater is ravaged by the storm of late December 1999. Should we reconstitute the same, as it was designed for Louis XIV and its festivals at the Palace of Versailles ? Eternal quarrel between Ancients and Moderns.

Under the reign of Louis XVI, already, the grove was transformed to make way for paths and grass. No trace of its former magnificence. This "Green Round" as it was called for a long time was devastated by the recent bad weather. Nothing opposes, then, that is implemented a contemporary garden. An international competition with several creators is launched ...

The grove of the Water Theater seen from the sky.

Drone Production.

Louis Benech, a scenographer at the Palace of Versailles ...

The landscape wins. He imagined a walk in the shade of beeches, oaks ... leading to a clearing of light and water, a living room of greenery punctuated with benches with simple shapes and two basins animated with three sculptures-fountains with flowers. water.

Referring to Le Nôtre, who was surrounded by artists of his time, Lepautre and Le Brun, Louis Benech wanted these monumental works to be designed by a contemporary visual artist, and that is the strength of his project. He chose Jean-Michel Othoniel, whose work seems gracious and joyful to him.

Jean-Michel Othoniel makes the sculptures of the Palace of Versailles dance

For the creator, on the lookout for an idea, "a doorway", it is obvious: Louis XIV is the ubiquitous subject of gardens. The artist delves into the historical texts.

His research leads him to the thesis of an academic who drew a parallel between the embroidery beds of Le Nôtre and the minuets drawn by Raoul-Auger Feuillet in Choreography or the art of describing dance in 1701. A work that he ordered the monarch to remember his steps.

Othoniel manages to find a copy of the collection in question and, there, revelation: "I saw a link between the choreographic writing and my intertwined figures".

Louis Benech and Jean-Michel Othoniel in duet at Versailles.

Christian Milet.

Entrechats, tracery and water pearls at the Palace of Versailles

In the rigaudon or bourrée, there is lightness, the party, says Jean-Michel Othoniel. Murano blown glass fountains draw bounces, arabesques, ricochets. In short, they express the body in motion and form calligraphies reminiscent of cut boxwood embroidery.

As for the color of the pearls, we opted for gold. "This is the royal palette, that of the gates of the castle in particular." The Sun King shone, and France with him.

A watercolor of Othoniel appearing "The Entrance of Apollo".

Jean-Michel Othoniel

Fountains sculptures in Murano glass beads.

Philippe Chancel

Opening of the Water Theater grove at the Palace of Versailles on May 12, 2015.

Castle of Versailles. Place d'Armes, 78000 Versailles. chateauversailles.fr

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