Critics’ Picks

Daniel Buren, Comme un jeu d’enfant (Like Child’s Play), 2014–15, mixed media, dimensions variable.

Daniel Buren, Comme un jeu d’enfant (Like Child’s Play), 2014–15, mixed media, dimensions variable.


Daniel Buren

Palazzo Donnaregina, via Settembrini, 79
April 25–August 31, 2015

Comme un jeu d’enfant (Like Child’s Play), 2014–15, in a presentation curated by Andrea Viliani and Eugenio Viola in partnership with the Musée d’Art Moderne et Contemporain in Strasbourg, is the first of three site-specific interventions Daniel Buren will create for this museum. Buren’s association with Naples dates back to 1972, when he had his first exhibition at Lucio Amelio’s Modern Art Agency. He then had a solo show in 1989, at the Museo di Capodimonte, and in 2004, he created a large-scale project for the redevelopment of the former Arin site (Arin is the city’s agency for water resources) in the Ponticelli. Buren has created this piece for the museum’s Re_PUBBLICA MADRE venue—so named to emphasize the concept of res publica, encouraging a direct, dynamic, and responsive relationship between space and the public.

Comme un jeu d’enfant is composed of overlapping archetypal forms in wood and colored steel and is inspired by the playful constructions of the German pedagogue Friedrich Wilhelm August Fröbel. Here, columns, tympanums, and architraves, placed in a regular and symmetrical sequence, unexpectedly transition from white to an explosion of complementary colors, suggesting the passage from a hypothetical empty sheet of paper to the practice of drawing.

Featuring arches lined with Buren’s hallmark black and white bands, each nearly three and a half inches wide, the work confounds the viewer’s perception and activates multiple viewpoints. Realized in collaboration with the architect Patrick Bouchain, it is a complex game and a homage to the instinctive depth of a child’s world, as is Buren’s use of his familiar stripes—impersonal and adaptable—which he employs to reveal the intrinsic charm and nature of the objects on which he places them.

Translated from Italian by Marguerite Shore.