Daniel Buren is a highly regarded French conceptual artist known for his institutional critiques. He is renowned for his use of non-gallery public spaces and his 'non-painting' system of pasted paper and printed canvases, where white vertical stripes alternate with a chosen colour.Read More
The repeated parallel bands avoided compositional decisions, and the lack of dominance of any one colour minimalised the possibility of meaning. This methodology focused on the social and spatial environment in which the 'intervening' work was placed, and functioned beyond the rigid conventions of institutional gallery practice.
In 1960, Buren graduated from École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d'Art in Paris. After a year in the Caribbean painting frescos in 1965, he began making his striped poster works. Furtively installed in situ displays in Parisian streets, these affichages sauvages (wild posterings) were intended to undermine institutional arrogance, working outside the orthodox frameworks or systems. Buren sees artworks as not autonomous but vitally linked to what is around them.
Around this time Buren rose to prominence as co-founder of the radical Parisian art group BMPT (Buren; Mosset; Parmentier; and Toroni). The group consisted of four disparate individuals attempting to marry a Situationist critique of art institutions with a post-structuralist denial of authorial identity and representation as part of an attack on capitalist consumption. They utilised performance, text, and their individual styles of repetitive minimalist painting, as seen in their Manifestation exhibitions (1966—1967).
As Buren increased in popularity, presenting work in the United States, Europe, and Australia, he exhibited more and more with the type of art and museological institution he had often critiqued. He complained it was becoming impossible to intervene, particularly as the top international art institutions clamoured for his attention. Over time he became more decorative, but not always.
For The forms: Paintings (1977) at the Centre Georges Pompidou, he had five striped canvases cut to the same size as five works on display from the collection, but positioned behind them on the wall. Hidden, Buren's canvases were detectable only through wall labels placed next to the label of each frontal painting. For his debut solo exhibition in 1968, Buren blocked off visual access to his exhibition by pasting stripes over the large glass entrance to Galerie Apollinaire, his dealer gallery in Milan.
Over time Buren become more inventive with the physical properties of the unusual social spaces he sought, attacking the towering internal Guggenheim space with the massive Peinture-Sculpture (Painting-Sculpture) in 1971. In the nineties, he began modifying architecture with coloured transparent roofs and mirrors, experimenting with light and, sometimes, short lines of truncated stripes in works such as A Perimeter for a Room Work in situ (2011) and Colours for a Pergola: Situated Work (2014).
Glowing light boxes of stripes also appeared in works such as 5 Colours of Electric Light: Situated Work (2011), as well as zig-zagging planar reliefs that projected out from the wall in Pile up: High Relief nº B5 (2017). Now his works became easy to acquire commodities, though some 'situated work' stated site-specificity, aiming at conceptual consistency.
Daniel Buren's solo exhibitions include Daniel Buren: De cualquier manera, trabajos in situ, Museo de Arte Italiano, Lima (2019); The colors above our heads are under our feet as well, The Baker Museum, Artis—Naples, Florida (2018); Transitions: works in situ, Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota (2003); Le Musée qui n'existait pas, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2002); The Arches, Southampton City Art Gallery (1994); and Eine Manifestation, Städtisches Museum, Mönchengladbach, Germany (1971).
Group exhibitions include Glass and Concrete, Manifestations of the Impossible, Marta Herford Museum, Germany (2020); Arte Povera bis Minimal, Museum Wiesbaden, Germany (2009); 41st Venice Biennale (1984); documenta 5, Kassel (1972); 10th Tokyo Biennale (1970); and Prospect 68, Dusseldorf (1968).
Buren's website can be found here.
John Hurrell | Ocula | 2021
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