Considered to be one of the most important artists of the contemporary scene, Daniel Buren (b. 1938) is the author of a considerable output of both artistic and theoretical work. Very briefly summarized, his most emblematic contribution could be seen as his understanding and use of the on-site concept. After briefly studying at the École des Métiers d’Art, Daniel Buren began questioning the boundaries of painting early in the 1960s, using an artistic language reduced to essentials and based from 1967 on the use of 8.7 cm wide vertical stripes – defined by him as a visual tool. Buren since then has been developing work of exceptional rigour and consistency and which can be read as a plural approach to the context in which works of art appear.
The exhibition Like Child's Play, Works On-site, 2014 presents two new works created by Daniel Buren for the Strasbourg Modern and Contemporary Art Museum (MAMCS). They have been installed on the MAMCS' 1500 m2 glazed façade and in the 600 m2 temporary exhibition area. The project is in two parts that fully complement each other and in both cases give the visitors a chance to rediscover in a new light the architecture and temporary exhibition spaces of the museum.
On the glass canopy and the large windows lining the "nave" of the MAMCS, Buren continues the in situ approach he has been using since 1968. The museum's architecture (designed by the Fainsilber studio) is is seen and understood for what it is, Buren's proposal consisting in enlarging this extensive area. This he achieves through his work on light and chromatic values, modified by the use of tinted film affixed directly to the glass canopy. Thus added to the 25 metre high "nave", these "stained glass windows" create a striking effect, radically altering our vision of the museum's iconic facade as seen from the outside, as well as our perception of the interior space.
In the exhibition space, entirely cleared for the occasion, an architectural landscape has been built on a regular plan of three squares, with a hundred painted wooden components for the visitor to wander among. The geometrically shaped modules (cuboids, cylinders, cubes, pyramids or arches) are arranged symmetrically in the room, rather like a giant construction game. The components installed in the first half of the room are left in white, while the following ones play a colour game. The alternating, 8.7 cm wide stripes, emblematic of the artist's work, are discreet yet visible on the inside of the arch-shaped modules. The room is divided lengthwise by a walkway, marked out by structures over 6 metres high; hollowed out in their centre by an "oculus", the modules give the effect of a giant telescope.
With this double exhibition, Daniel Buren has created site-specific installations that combine understanding of an existing structure with an affirmative architectural, even sculptural, proposal.
The exhibition is accompanied by a catalogue raisonné listing works engaged since 1971 in a close dialogue with architecture and including a text by Marie-Ange Brayer and a new interview of Daniel Buren with Patrick Bouchain, Joëlle Pijaudier Cabot and Estelle Pietrzyk.