Is this really the crown of which dreamed the lovers of opera and the faithful of the Opera Garnier for the 350 years of the institution, and the 30 years of the Bastille Opera house? Probably not, given the nervousness undergoes social networks before the first images of the Saturnalia, , by Claude Lévêque and its wheels of gold sitting on the pilasters of the grand staircase taken by day visitors and spectators of the evening. The curse of “networks antisocial”, mocked a smile, Stéphane Lissner, general manager of the Opéra national de Paris since July 2014. It is he who invited the French plastic to work at the heart of the monument, after having admired the Collection Lambert in Avignon (a red mist crossed with a lightning bolt in neon), the Bourdelle Museum and the Louvre.

contemporary art is not always photogenic. And if the anamorphosis of JR on the Pyramid of the Louvre in 2016 was better in picture than in real life, much to the delight of internet users and the general annoyance of the museum’s curators, the installation by Claude Lévêque is on the contrary better in reality than in the picture. This is the location, its scale and its extraordinary decor, the theatre in the theatre that leads to the stage lovers of opera and ballet in a silent and imperious prologue: these are two huge wheels of the tractor turned into gold rings – in fact the copper enough mat on resin – appear to be smaller under the nave 30 metres in height. Their baroque voluntary integrates with the architectural vocabulary of disproportionate and the range of marbles of various colors. Unexpectedly, we look all the more the audacity of Charles Garnier and his style historicist of the second half of the Nineteenth century.

“I’m not an artist of provocation,” sighed Claude Lévêque, who represented France at the Venice Biennale in 2009 with an installation of melancholy, silver, any of the vacuum and wind ( Le Grand Soir ). For those who have seen the reserves of the Musée Bourdelle and his colony of plasters transformed by its game of lights and neon purple, this assertion peaceful and amazed, and sinks to the source. There are many more of the poet of small things that the blasting of the cathedral in the Nivernais to the imposing stature, the sophistication secret.

Diadem of light

“I designed these Saturnalia, as a device continuous that goes from the rotunda of the subscribers to the grand staircase and continues with the tiara of light on the roof of the Opera Bastille. I knew that the tires of the tractor attiseraient the question of heritage. Even if, for me, they are dematerialised and posed in a certain way, on the bias, echoing the architecture is very symmetrical and very ornate. I wanted to articulate it differently, to catalyse the movement of staircases, railings. The Palais Garnier invites the spectacle, the illusion, I wanted to share this magical place with my sculptures, created in-house with the teams of the Opéra Garnier. The Saturnalia, evoke for me the mythology, role reversal, side step, this particular time where things are transformed. I have already worked here but for the stage, including scenography for Angelin Preljocaj and Merce Cunningham.” Again, the opinion différèrent. Art, without doubt.

“Saturnalia”, the Opéra Garnier, Place de l’opera (Ninth). Tel.: 08 92 89 90 90. Opening hours: open everyday. of 10 h to 16 h 30. Until 31 dec. 2019.