La Maison Rouge, a converted factory situated between the Place de la Bastille and the Quai de La Rapee in Paris’s 12th arrondissement, houses the foundation of Antoine de Galbert and welcomes the public Wednesday through Sunday between 11am and 7 pm.
The convivial space with naturally lit hallways, an interior courtyard and interconnected multi-dimensional rooms mounts three exhibitions a year, and currently features Néon, Who’s afraid of red, yellow and blue?
A hundred years after its invention by French chemist Georges Claude, this retrospective explores the use of neon in 108 works by 83 artists from the 1940s through today.
Since its scientific and commercially applicable beginning neon has evolved into a more complex medium associated with contemporary art’s intellectual currents. The pieces, group by chronological and conceptual theme, demonstrate how neon has been manipulated to create meaning and present numerous ways to interpret light, color, form and function.
Perhaps with some nostalgia for neon’s original use in a Parisian street sign, I felt most drawn to the pieces which upon further study revealed palindromes, anagrams and multiple plays on words. Ivan Navarro transported me beyond the bulbs’ bright space while Laurent Pernot’s “Captivity” and Claude Lévêques “Revez!” elicited a sense of playfulness amidst all the other pieces placed in the basement to emphasize the dark side of neon’s light.
Be sure to leave plenty of time to enjoy a treat from the Rose Bakery and to browse the bookstore.
Néon, Who’s afraid of red, yellow and blue? is on view through May 20, 2012. For more information, visit their website.
Susan Lyons is a Paris contributor for The Seen.