Sculpture | A Glimpse of Michel Deverne

Etoile éclatée, 1968
Lacquered stainless steel panel
€8,000 > 12,000

Michel Deverne
Wood, Metal, Paper
PIASA Rive Gauche
Paris | France
Exhibition 19th June > 25th June 2014
Sale 25th June 2014

French artist, Michel Deverne’s giant-size sculpture Les Miroirs (1981) at La Défense – also known as La Grande Mosaïque – formed by ten giant cylinders, at 2.3 m², is considered the largest work, ever produced using the mosaic technique.

Information on Deverne, however, is elusive. An initial trawl of the internet brings little reward – a few images of him in his later years, a couple of pictures of his bass-relief works and some rather dull shots of the aforementioned mosaic sculpture. Wallpaper* ran an obituary just after his death, aged 84 in February 2012, that refers to an interview they did with him in 2011. Unwilling to simply plagiarise the magazine’s articles, or repeat the scant text of the auction house’s press release, I resolved to continue my search elsewhere.

On their site, Paris’s Centre Pomidou, where Deverne’s works have been exhibited, gives only the dates of his birth and death. The city’s Grande Palais, where the artist has also been exhibited, on my having entered his name and clicked the search button on their site, rewarded me with the following advice: ‘Check if your spelling is correct. Remove quotes around phrases to search for each word individually: bike shed will often show more results than “bike shed”. Consider loosening your query with OR. bike OR shed will often show more results than bike shed.’ So I tried Michel OR Deverne and predictably, got nowhere.

Draft of sculpture for a stretch of water, 1982

€2,000 > 3,000

Obelisque no 6
Study for Togo’s Monument of Independence, 1976

€2,000 > 3,000

Table, 1970
Pine wood and stainless steel
€3,000 > 4,000

Deverne’s sculptures have been installed in many public places in France and also around the world – in cities like Rotterdam and Tel Aviv, as well as in Saudi Arabia, Japan, Canada, Senegal, Belgium, Cameroon and the United States – but a search via New York’s MoMA site brought zero results, as did another at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tate Modern’s site has nothing on him.

Aware that Deverne drew much of his artistic inspiration from architecture and the city, I thought London’s Design Museum might have something. Nothing. The Vitra Museum perhaps? – No. Deverne was French, but I thought the Royal Institute of British Architecture, could be worth trying, but again, zero results.

Michel Deverne became a Professor at the Paris Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1977 – I drew a blank on their website, too – and was awarded a silver medal in Arts Plastiques by France’s Académie d’Architecture in 1983. Here I struck lucky – 20 articles in which he is mentioned – Wow! – but they were only available in French, and sadly, I don’t speak French. Should you be equally handicapped but want to learn more about Deverne go to the Wallpaper* link. There, amongst a lot of very interesting detail about his life and his remarkable creations you’ll find a link to the Paris gallery, RCM, which, when the feature was created, apparently represented him. However, Deverne’s name, if it ever did, doesn’t appear on their list of artists.

Michel Deverne: Wood, Metal, Paper, PIASA’s final sale of the season at the Espace Rive Gauche will be held on June 25, when sixty works will be sold. The company’s design department will be staging a dialogue between the works of Michel Deverne and Paul Kingma – another French artist inspired by architecture – in a setting created by Dorothée Meilichzon.

All object images © PIASA
Portrait by Christophe Rouffio

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