Jean-Michel Othoniel, ‘Water Theatre Grove’, 2013, Château de Versailles

Landscape designed by Louis Benech

Image rights: Image courtesy of Château de Versailles

About Jean-Michel Othoniel

Jean-Michel Othoniel creates resplendent, large-scale glass sculptures that explore themes of fragility, transformation, and ephemerality below their shiny surfaces. “I want to seduce you with their beauty and then lead you to other themes,” he says. Having come of age as an artist during the AIDS crisis, Othoniel deploys various strategies to hint at loss and despair—cracks in his objects’ perfect surfaces, scenes of uncanny whimsy, negative spaces, and, early in his career, transient materials like sulfur. Most identifiable are Othoniel’s jewel-like glass sculptures that function like outsized necklaces, hung in public gardens or twisted in improbable contortions in galleries. He is particularly interested in glass for its ability to be manipulated and transformed, having also used the material to spell out texts and craft opulent installations, like a canopy bed of glass orbs and a public mis-en-scène of puppets. Othoniel cites Constantin Brancusi, Sophie Calle, and Félix González-Torres among his influences.

French, b. 1964, Saint-Etienne, France