Colonnes de Buren

The Colonnes de Buren are officially known as Deux Plateaux.

Colonnes de Buren in Palais-Royal
Colonnes de Buren in Palais-Royal

In 1986, the Ministry of Culture commissioned the sculptor Daniel Buren with their creation to adorn the Cour d’Honneur of the Palais-Royal.

Deux Plateaux (literally 2 levels) originate in the basement of the courtyard in order to symbolize the link between street-level and underground Paris, both so rich in history.

This was a way somehow to link past, present and future.

The 260 striped Colonnes de Buren are made of white Carrara marble from Italy and black marble from the French Pyrénées.

These columns are truncated and of different heights, but they all have 8.7 cm wide stripes.

Controversial artwork

The Colonnes de Buren are placed in lines and turn the 3000m² Cour d’Honneur into a huge chessboard!

Colonnes de Buren in Palais-Royal
Colonnes de Buren in Palais-Royal

No need to say that they were highly controversial at first, and still are!

Many detractors argue that their ugliness ruined the beauty of the Palais-Royal.

Indeed, the building is a listed Historical Monument.

The columns were therefore installed ‘in a hurry’ and their inauguration skipped!

Ten years later only, water leaks and seepage in the basement, contributed to their degradation and they were falling apart.

In 2007 Daniel Buren bitterly complained of the state of ‘extreme disrepair’ in which his columns were.

Colonnes de Buren in Palais-Royal
Colonnes de Buren in Palais-Royal

The Ministry of Culture had a cunning idea to get around public opposition in order to obtain the necessary funds for their restoration:

The Colonnes de Buren were listed Historical Monument!

The cost of the work, which began in 2008, amounted to 5.3 million Euros.

However, the Eiffage Groupe became a patron, and contributed 500,000 Euros.

The work included among others the resurfacing of the courtyard, new electrics and a brand new water network.

Inauguration eventually took place on January 8, 2010 after 15 months of restoration work!

And… they have since been once more restored!

Directions: 1st district – Palais-Royal
Metro: Louvre-Palais-Royal on Lines 1 and 7
Coordinates: Lat 48.863661 – Long 2.337253

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