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La Fontaine du Réalisme

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La Fontaine du Réalisme - Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, France 2013



When two of Gustave Courbet’s works were rejected by the jury of the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris, he withdrew his eleven accepted submissions and displayed his paintings privately in his Pavillon du Réalisme. For the introduction to the catalogue of this independent show, Courbet wrote a Realist Manifesto, echoing the tone of the period’s political manifestos.

Eight universal expositions took place in Paris between 1855 and 1937, and each included fountains, which demonstrated the latest in technology and artistic styles. They introduced illuminated fountains, fountains that performed with music, fountains made of glass and concrete, and modern abstract fountains to Paris. The history of fountains in Paris until the mid-19th century was the history of the city’s struggle to provide clean drinking water to its growing population and have an important social connection to the city.

La Fontaine du Réalisme, produced while on residency at the Centre Culturel Irlandais, takes its impetus from Courbet’s Realist Manifesto and the necessity for the artist to: “be in a position to translate the customs, the ideas, the appearance of my time, according to my own estimation.”

La Fontaine de Réalisme consists of a combination of recycled wood collected locally, colored gaffer tape, garden furniture from the CCI courtyard and two plastic swimming pools purchased locally to complete the sculpture. It has been installed into the courtyard of the CCI and at night is illuminated with a number of theatrical lights (normally used by the CCI for its own theatre productions). The lights use colored gels to illuminate the work in a dramatic manner against the backdrop of this historical building.

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La Phantom du Réalisme - Phoenix Rising (group exhibition) Hugh Lane Gallery 2014

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