LE RÉEL MERVEILLEUX
Essential Homme|Spring 2020
Jean-Michel Othoniel instills his work with sensory revelations plucked from the real world.
ANGELIKA POKOVBA

Jean-Michel Othoniel in front of his La Rose du Louvre, 2019, Paris.

The sensory experience of consuming art is unique on its own, with the power to unite natural instincts with the imagination. Jean-Michel Othoniel, a revered French glass artist, has crossed oceans exhibiting in galleries around the world and even made it into the permanent collection of the Louvre. Yet beyond the residencies and commissions for designers like Chanel, his greatest fascination is delving into public space to evoke a sensory reaction from the viewers themselves.

La Grande Vague, 2019, Paris, in stainless steel and glass bricks.

“It is really my position as an artist to try to enchant the world,” Othoniel says.

His career started quickly after graduating from the École Nationale Supérieure d’Arts de Paris-Cergy. At the 1992 documenta, a contemporary art exhibition in Kassel, Germany, that occurs every five years, his glass-blown sculptures were an immediate hit. Othoniel’s glass bead modules became his signature, and have since been exhibited as Les Belles Danses at the Versailles gardens in 2015 and Le Kiosque des Noctambules, as a permanent installation at the Métro Palais Royal station, to name a few. Outside of Paris, Othoniel has exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, Villa Médicis in Rome, and Hara Museum of Contemporary Art in Tokyo. But it was about a decade ago that he returned to Paris, which seemed changed and even more attractive than during his early years.

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