Discover more from Barry Frangipane's Newsletter
Stravinsky Fountain Reopens in Paris
Paris's playful fountain figures return to celebrate 40 years
In 1983 when artists Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle created the Stravinsky Fountain just outside the Centre Pompidou, I wasn’t sure what to think. Neither was anyone else. After all, it was only a few years earlier that Beaubourg (Centre Pompidou) was unveiled.
This center for the arts appeared to be built inside out, with all the pipes for water and ventilation running up the outside of the building, painted in bright colors no less. Then came the Stravinsky fountain, which also was fill of color, unlike the typical stoic fountains of Paris.
But Tinguely and Saint Phalle had an idea. They wanted something much more playful to compensate for “…the superb monstrosity” of the art center next door. Tinguely wanted the fountain to be like a circus.
It was decided to honor Russia Composer Igor Stravinsky’s works with sixteen moving fountain figures with names such as:
The Clown Hat
Children and adults alike gradually came to enjoy the “art nouveau” fountain, and it became a popular spot to enjoy a quick lunch in the sun. But the fountain displays a different side during the night, when the black structures of Tinguely disappear, and only the bright colors of Saint Phalle are visible.
Over the years, time took a toll on the fountain. Many of the figures failed to move, the water jets ceased to function, and the basin needed repair. When I visited the fountain in 2020, it was a sad skeleton of what it used to be. But in early 2022 a complete renovation project was started, and the fountain reopened to the public on November 7, 2023. The millions of Euro for the restoration have paid off. It’s as playful and beautiful as when I first saw it in 1983.
Support my work and subscribe to this newsletter. It’s free. Go ahead.
Come see it during the day, have dinner in Le Marais, then come back after dark to see it again. Here’s the map: