Until late August 2021 the exhibition offers a review of inflatable art through the work of various artists including Josep Ponsatí. The Catalan conceptual artist became internationally popular during the sixties, thanks to his ephemeral inflatable sculptures.
The inflatable carries within itself the idea of breathing, an immediate relationship to the living, to the event, to life. From this initial idea, the exhibition “Aerodream” at centre Pompidou-Metz reveals the human dimension of the “pneumatic”, from the first industrial and military exploitations such as airships, weather balloons or floating assemblies from the 18th century to the experiences developed by numerous artists, designers and architects.
In the mid-20th century the appearance of new materials (rubber and derivatives, plastics, woven fishnet, etc.) multiplied the possible uses and practical applications of inflatable structures, which led to a new modular and mobile architecture. But it was through a few mythical exhibitions that the inflatable would find an international echo and a public image, particularly the exhibition “Structures gonflables” at the Musée d’art modern de la Ville de Paris (1968), the pavilions of the Universal Exhibition in Osaka in 1970, and finally Documenta V (1972) in Kassel, where artists and architects such as the well-known Christo transform public space with their work.
In this context, Josep Ponsatí (1947) participated in Catalonia in the conceptual art collective action from the late sixties with his first kinetic sculptures of a minimalist and constructivist character. The style of his work soon moved towards the inflatable, which put him on the international map of conceptual art. In 1971 Ponsatí created his first inflatable and since then he based his plastic expression in producing great inflatables. In 1973, thanks to his attendance to Paris Biennale his inflatable structures gained even greater international echo. From the eighties on, Ponsatí developed inflatable and ephemeral sculptural objects increasingly complex. In 1986 the Museu d’Història de Girona dedicated him a retrospective series and nowadays his work is still at the collections of Centre Pompidu in Paris and MACBA in Barcelona. In 2019 he received the Premi Nacional de Cultura from Generalitat de Catalunya.
Together with Ponsatí’s trajectory the inflatable has taken the form of furniture, dwellings and all kind of structures. Plastic polymers became more common and opened an extraordinary blossoming of creations, of forms and of colours. At the same time, inflatable architecture appeared to be an “architecture of the air”, removing itself from the definitive and irreversible entry into time and space, escaping foundations and heavy materials. It also acquired a critical and political function. The ephemeral nature of the inflatable gives it a timeless dimension, that of the event, of the action, of participation. It is the instrument of an intervention, which did not escaped artists such as those of the Gruppo N, or Piero Manzoni, Yves Klein or Andy Warhol. Bearers of the contestation that rumbled amongst the young generation, the inflatables act as a prism to view the world that surround us in a different way.
After the oil crisis at the end of 1970 which would led to a repudiation of the use of plastics, the inflatable progressively faded away, the post-modern current jeopardising the image of this industrial product. But during the last decade, with the appearance of more ecological new technology, the inflatable has regained its reputation and represents an alternative that enables reinvention of spatial possibilities, introducing different perceptive and cognitive experiences. The recent appearance of organic textile allows us to foresee the development of research where the inflatable could offer new architectural and design options and introducing new constructive principles.
Aeorodream. Architecture, design and inflatable structures, 1950-2020
Pompidou-Metz and Cité de l’architecture et du patrimoine
From January 30 to August 23, 2021
More information here.