Daniel Buren’s autobiography states: “Daniel Buren (Boulogne-Billancourt, 1938), lives and works in situ”. This sentence, as minimalist as his work, sums up the essence of his production.
Since the beginning of his artistic career, Buren decided that his biography wasn’t going to be a list of dates, places and signatures; for years neither pictures nor resumes of the artist were published. Instead of a biography, the artist presented a list of his main works, which served as proof of the main conceptual and formal criteria of his work.
During the 1960’s, the artist abandoned the studio to make art in the streets of Paris, where the city and the buildings became his canvas. During this period he executed a number of exercises through which he confronted the traditional notions of painting, along with the concepts of subjectivity and authorship.
In 1965, Buren incorporated his vertical coloured stripes, a signature element in his work. The repetitive use of the stripes is what the artist calls a “visual tool”, an element through which he has brought painting to a “degree zero”, a neutral point away from symbolic meanings and narratives.
In 1986 he developed Les Deux Plateaux, an intervention in the courtyard of the Palais Royale in Paris. The work produced agitated debates around contemporary art and historical buildings. The controversy led to numerous interventions in museums and cultural institutions, including the Guggenheim in New York and, recently, the Louis Vuitton Foundation in Paris.
His stripes were found in the stairs of historical buildings, in buses, metros, parks, windows etc. By using the city as a scenario, Buren was not only questioning the art institution but proposing to the public new ways of facing the space and the piece. By a force of repetition, the constant elements in his work have become codes of language that allow spectators to read and recognize anywhere in the world. His works deal with the location they are situated in, providing different perspectives of looking at a space.
His interventions can be understood as contextual pieces which oscillate between the legitimacy of the museum space, and the transgression of public spaces. Through stripes, colors, shadows and reflections Buren offers to the public an aesthetic experience that transcends visual perception transforming into a physical experience of the space.
In November 2016, Buren was invited to develop a piece for the Museum of Modern Art of Bogotá. From that moment, a series of conversations emerged in terms of architecture, light and space and during the following months a process of planning and co-production was carried out between the Colombian and French team. The project initiated in August 2017 under the direction of the artist. The execution of the project reveals the artist’s clarity in terms of managing the space and architecture, as well as his precision and attention to detail.