An ephemeral work of art in the gardens of Vaux-le-Vicomte

From 2019 a new artistic creation will replace the boxwood embroidery of the Castle of Vaux-le-Vicomte. The garden of Vaux-le-Vicomte, founding work of the French gardens of André Le Nôtre, is in the process of experiencing an unprecedented change in its tercentenary history. The old and sick boxwood were torn off during the winter and are preparing to give way to an ephemeral work of art, specially created and chosen after a consultation initiated in 2018. The chosen work, the Ephemeral Ribbons, is a creation of the artist Patrick Hourcade. With audacity and modernity, he will pay homage to the visionary art of the landscape gardener of the seventeenth century.

The family of Vogüé, owner of the estate, assisted by a scientific committee, took note of the end of life of the boxwood embroideries planted by Achille Duchêne in 1923 and decided to proceed their replacement. Before a new definitive replacement project is identified (on artistic criteria, historical, scientific and economic), the owners decided to organize in the summer of 2018 a call for applications from artists, landscape designers, designers for the creation of an ephemeral work on these two beds. After deliberation by a specialized jury, Patrick Hourcade’s project was selected to replace the boxwood embroidery. The work, named ‘Rubans Ephémères’ is inspired by arabesque drawings of Achille Duchêne (early twentieth century), themselves inspired by the embroidery designed by Le Nôtre in the 17th century. In his proposal, Patrick Hourcade’s mission is to respect the rules of the French-style garden. That’s why he honors André Le Nôtre’s persecutory as well as the very language constructed landscape and nature tamed by the man. The perfectly maintained turf is, therefore, an essential aspect of the Ephemeral Ribbons: it must be cut short and do not change with the seasons. The arabesque, when it is, is the key to the concept of the Ephemeral Ribbons. The choice of the Ephemeral Ribbons material was guided by the water bodies present in the gardens of Le Nôtre, on which the reflection of the sky plays according to the hour and the season. Patrick Hourcade was inspired by the aluminum walls of Louvre Lens. Ephemeral Ribbons will consist of 390 aluminum inclined plates. Aluminum will give strength and dynamism to the arabesques while allowing games reflections and mirrors in the manner of garden ponds. The work is evolutionary and alive: like a natural video, it will never be identical two days in a row. The sky will be reflected in the plates and will give them different splinters, allowing a permanent modification of the Ephemeral Ribbons.


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