Fontaines de Pol Bury or Sphérades

The Fontaines de Pol Bury are officially known as Sphérades.

One of the Fontaines de Pol Bury with Palais-Royal gardens in the background
One of the fountains with Palais-Royal gardens in the background

You’ll find them in the Palais-Royal, in the Cour d’Orléans.

This courtyard delineates the Cour d’Honneur from the palace’s gardens.

The architect Louis Victor designed the two Classical colonnades that encompass it.

The Fontaines de Pol Bury are quite unusual fountains.

They are another controversial work of contemporary art that appeared in the Palais Royal under the presidency of François Mitterand.

In 1985, the Ministry of Culture indeed commissioned the Belgian artist Pol Bury (1922-2005) with the creation of two fountains.

The sculptor Pol Bury

Pol Bury belonged to the Surrealist cultural movement of the inter war, however, he only started to work with steel and water movement in 1957.

One of the Fontaines de Pol Bury in Palais-Royal
Bath time!

He produced a series of kinetic works, moving spheres and discs, from a wide selection of materials such as wood, cork, stainless steel, brass or copper.

Electrified mechanisms hidden inside or at the rear of the spheres operated these art works and produced various lighting effects.

In 1976, Bury started to specialize in hydraulic steel fountains and soon mastered hydraulic power to animate steel objects.

Each of the two fountains he created for the Palais-Royal consists of 10 stainless steel spheres.

These slowly rotate on their axis under the power of the water flowing over them.

However, the mechanisms that operated them wore out relatively quickly and the spheres remained still for years.

The Fontaines de Pol Bury were restored at the same time than the Colonnes de Buren in the Cour d’Honneur (2008/09).

Directions: 1st district – Palais-Royal
Metro: Louvre-Palais-Royal on Lines 1 and 7
Coordinates: Lat 48.863901 – Long 2.337258

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