Stravinsky fountain is near the George Pompidou Centre, called the most Avante Garde building in the world. The Pompidou Centre is named after Georges Pompidou, a French president who hoped that Paris would have a center so that people could join together and admire all types of art, including sculptures. The Centre was created in 1977.
The Stravinsky Fountain or La Fountaine Stravinsky, faces the southern side of the Centre. It is located just over the center's music department. The fountain is a humorous and whimsical depiction of Stravinsky's compositions. Artists Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint-Phale created the sculptures in the fountain in 1983. In all, 16 sculptures make up the fountain.
The fountain represents Stravinsky's work and composition style. Some of his work was represented by his mentor, Rimsky-Korsakov. His music was traditionally very straightforward and to the point. Some of tones were dull. A classification of his work includes, what is called, The Enfant Terrible. These pieces are light and vibrant. They include names such as The Firebird, The Rite of Song and the Rite of the Nightingale. The melodies could be best described as harsh and brash, though colorful and alluring.
Another category of music represented in the sculptures that include neo-classical compositions. These compositions were light and cheerful. They were the exact opposite of Russian compositions that were known and represented in Stravinsky's time.
The black portions of the fountain, completed by Tinguely, are animated. They move according to the force of the water. The area around the fountain has become one of frivolity. Caricature artists, dancers and other entertainers are often found in the area near the fountain. In comparison to Tinguely's work, De Saint-Phale's work can be best described as playful and colorful.
De Saint-Phale's style is based on her upbringing. This France-born artist was actually raised in New York in the United States. De Saint Phale was a rebel. Her father lost a great deal of money in the stock market and she ended up having to live with several different family members. Even as a child, she broke rules and was somewhat temperamental. She changed schools often and had what may be described as a slightly volatile disposition. She was curious and loved comic books, which were probably her first introduction to art. She also loved the read the classics as a child and was intrigued by rich descriptions of characters. It is possible that she transformed the characters from the stories into her own visualizations of how the characters would appear and react.
De-Saint Phale also liked to dapple with vibrant colors during that period in her life. It was a part of her character to seek change and to color objects in a way which would both shock and give the piece a new state of being. De-Saint Phale was involved in the arts at a young age. She took an interest in the theater and loved to perform on the stage.
As a young adult, De Saint Phale, a brunette beauty with a slim sinewy graceful body, became a model. She modeled in Vogue, a top fashion magazine. She also modeled for Harpar's Bazar and for Life Magazine.
De Saint Phale moved back to Paris in 1952 after she married Harry Matthews, a writer who she met while in the United States. De-Saint Phale went through a most turbulent period during this time of her life. She ended up having a mental breakdown. Painting became a way to rediscover herself. Painting became a form of therapy. De-Saint Phale was called a Nouveaux Realist. Although she painted from her heart, she was also known for her more "violent" paintings. She would sometimes invite observers to shoot at works or to through darts at targets (pouches of paint) on her work. She used guns and rifles in her paintings as a part of her own self-exploration. She used this method as a way to fight off her inner pain and to defend herself. They were "paintings and assemblages...designed to be shot at with rifles and pistols. As well-- aimed bullets punctured plastic bags and cans of paint the all-white works were transformed into multicolored reliefs" (Rubenstein).
After she completed the period in which she used guns and rifles, she evolved into a more peaceful time in her work. She created the Nanas that are found in Stravinsky's Fountain. The Nanas are large women with full bodies and comforting bosoms. The figures were acrobatic and bulbous in nature. She began to create such figures in the late 1960s, just in time for the Women's Movement.
They were described as "brightly painted sculptures of bulbous, acrobatic, fecund-looking female figures. Widely exhibited in the late 1960s, the "Nanas" were effective icons for the period's exuberant eroticism and burgeoning feminism" (Rubenstein).
Her work is greatly influenced by one of her favorite architects, Gaudi. His style is apparent in several of her pieces. De Saint-Phale, did not have any formal art training. She divorced Matthews in 1960. She loved the look of paint colorfully blotched and splattered onto different materials.
De Saint-Phale and Tinguely were friends and created several pieces of work together. Their sculptures border on sexual -- merging Tinguely's smooth sometimes-angular wire shapes with De Saint-Phale's colorful, feminine round shapes. The fountain expresses the combination of the hard and the soft and of the male and the female in all of its beauty and promise. The fountain incorporates the two styles and does so with harmony. Images in the fountain are shaped like a heart that is painted in red, yellow and teal, a bicycle, a bluish hat and other sculptures that represent each of the composer's works. A pair of red lips appear to spit water and a huge sculpture entitled, "Firebird" or L'oiseau de feu is certainly painted in De Saint-Phale's brilliant color-style stands tall in the mechanical fountain. The Firebird is named after Stravinky's 1910 ballet composition. This sculpture is depicted in De Saint-Phale's roundness and shocking plume. One of the dances in the ballet was called the Infernal dance. Therefore the red in the sculpture represents intensity and heat. The ballet was performed in brilliant red costumes and the principal dancer wore a scarlet headpiece made of feathers on her head. De Saint-Phale is attempting to represent the build-up of melody in the composition and the appearance of this most magical creature. The Firebird is a dominant feature in the fountain and the sculpture is represented with a brilliant yellow plume on its head. De Saint-Phale has placed huge polka dots on the bird's chest. They are colored red and green to add to the sculpture's light-hearted nature. The giant wings are outstretched, created with steel. The wings are tubular, an outline of a bird in flight. His wings are almost twice the size of its short and stout body -- very different from the graceful lean curves of a ballet dancer. The point is to instigate laughter with a piece that is unlike Stravinsky's ornate composition. De-Saint Phale has painted a red face on the firebird's chest which resembles its own face. The Firebird has the appearance of being a two-headed animal. Water squirts from the top of his headpiece. The headpiece reminds one of the hat worn by the old palace jesters in kingdoms. These were men who were made to do all they can to make the king laugh and feel lighthearted. The Firebird has this same mission.
De-Saint Phale uses textures and colors to give the bird the impression of being a winged clown in the fountain. The polka dots on one side of its body are quite noticeable in comparison to the black strokes that somehow resemble feathers. The Firebird is very much a comical jest in the fountain.
The red lips in the fountain represent The Fairy's Kiss. This composition was created in 1928 for the ballet. Stravinsky dedicated The Fairy's Kiss to Tchaikovksy. This piece was based on Russian romance. The Fairy's Kiss was performed as a ballet with four scenes. De Saint-Phale's representation of the large lips with water squirting from the mouth is a humorous depiction of this ballet. The ballet characterized love.
Some of the other pieces represent themes in music. The blue hat represents the "hi-hat" splashes in Stravinsky's music. This dramatic music was used in Histori du Soldat. Histori du Soldat also used snare drums, field drums and bass drums.
The Ballerine Sirene is depicted as a detached womanly body that is lying down in the fountain. The torso is twisted upwards towards the rear end. The sculpture is painted in pink, red, and green. The body is fully developed and reeks of sexual desire. The sculpture depicts Stravinsky's romantic era in the ballet. His music was published by a publishing house that was called Serene Editions. The woman represents the different shades of womanhood and sexuality associated with some of Stravinsky's most heated and sexually charged works. These pieces were represented by dark heavy…