16.10 – 24.10 2021
For its first edition under the patronage of the Embassy of Italy, Genius Loci rekindles the spirit of L’Ange Volant, designed and built in Garches, on the outskirts of Paris in 1927 by architect and designer Gio Ponti. L’Ange Volant is the Italian master’s sole architectural work in France and a quintessential reflection of his multi-faceted artistic expression. Levity, transparency and colour, his major inspirational themes, will be celebrated for the duration of the exhibition-event through the creation of more than twenty international artists with various art forms, of which several commissioned works that draw inspiration from the spirit of the place. The works will take pride of place in all of the villa’s focal points, from the entrance to the garden. The full spectrum of expression, ranging from sculpture to perfume, will bring to light one of the many facets of Gio Ponti’s L’Ange Volant in a kaleidoscopic show encompassing the past, present and future.
L’Ange Volant was conceived by architect and designer Gio Ponti for the Bouilhet familly, then owners, directors and descendants of the founder of Christofle, the silverware maison. Nesting on the hillside in Garches, close to the Saint-Cloud golf course, this neo-Palladian villa built between 1925 and 1927, was conceived down to the most minute detail by Gio Ponti. It was a seminal moment in his architectural work, his only construction project in France and one of the most well preserved in the world.
Gio Ponti was at once a painter, writer, architect, designer and a scenographer. All facets of his creativity are in evidence in this early career work, recently restored by its original owners. Every feature of the villa bears the hallmarks of the master, from walls to ceilings down to door handles and engraved mirrors and was also conceived as an ode to love. Indeed, its very construction was the setting for a couple to be formed, as Tony Bouilhet, the commissioner of the villa and Carla Borletti, Gio Ponti’s niece who came from Italy to visit her uncle on the building site first met. Thus, the architect named the villa L’Ange Volant as a nod to the lovers who were married there in 1928, barely a year after the inauguration.
This private commission allowed Ponti to realize his prototypical casa all’italiana, a concept of an Italianate villa envisioned around the notion of the joy of living, of theatre and empty space. With artefacts and art as permanent guests.
A celebration of the spirit of a place, Genius Loci is the first contemporary art and design exhibition open to the public to be staged in L’Ange Volant.
Roberto Giulio Rida
Bas Smets & Eliane Le Roux
Alix Waline & Sabatina Leccia
SPECIALLY COMMISSIONED WORKS
Several works were especially commissioned for Genius Loci. Inspired by the spirit of L’Ange Volant, they take pride of place both inside and outside of the villa.
Architect Franklin Azzi authors his first artistic feat with Le Saint, a light installation referencing the spirituality of the place and of its creator. Conceived as an inaugural work of the Genius Loci experience, it floats as if by magic in the entrance courtyard.
In the garden, artist Mathias Kiss spreads out the wings of the angel over the lawn of the villa. This polished stainless-steel work symbolized the overshadowing figure of L’Ange Volant. This polished stainless-steel work symbolized the overshadowing figure of L’Ange Volant.
Inside the villa, architect and designer Sophie Dries reveals a Murano glass mirror incrusted with stones referencing Gio Ponti’s passion for minerals and his obsession with transparency. English artist Julian Mayor minted a low welded steel table that shimmers like a block of crystal. Spanish artist Maloles Antignac shaped a sculpture inspired by the iconography of the hand, one of the iconic themes of Gio Ponti’s work in ceramics Textile sculptor Agnès Sébyleau unfolds her tentacular wings as the fingers of a prodigious hand. French-Irish designer Damian O’Sullivanpresents a double candle holder, inspired by the union theme as a tribute to the quest for light and levity of the Italian designer, as well as a vase whose shape is both sensually round and geometrically rigorous.
Composer Jérôme Échenoz attempted to capture the spirit of the place in realizing the sound installation that accompanies the visitor strolling from the entrance through the rooms upstairs, while Barnabé Fillion created a perfume especially for Genius Loci that seeks to resonate with the spirit of the locale and draws from the major inspirational themes of Gio Ponti: mirror effects, transparency and lightness of being. The scent will be unveiled in stages throughout the exhibition, note after note.
SPECTRAL PONTI – 2021
Specially commissioned for the Genius Loci exhibition curated by Marion Vignal, the Spectral Ponti work by Laurent Grasso attempts to probe the supernatural dimension contained in the spirit of a place. Employing an entirely novel imagery, the film offers a moment suspended in time, a journey devoid of material constraints through the Ange Volant villa by Gio Ponti. In doing so, it follows the footsteps of Spectral Orsay, recently unveiled at the musée d’Orsay. Spectral Ponti reveals a contemporary, yet timeless vision of the house designed by the italian architect between 1925 and 1927 under the figurehead of the angel. Seeking to immerse the spectator in a troubled world in which our perceptive boundaries are blurred, the works of Laurent Grasso are an invitation to charter our way across suspended space. His way of making worlds collide chimes as a distant echo with the ideas of Gio Ponti, for whom architecture was meant as an ode to lightness and an orchestration of appearances.