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'Trees': the exhibition that will reconcile you with the plant world

The Cartier Foundation in Paris hosts an exhibition in which art and science go hand in hand to honor and claim the importance of trees.

Art, nature and science merge into Trees © Cartier Foundation

Aesthetics and science shake hands around trees in the exhibition Trees (Nous les Arbres), a sample that brings together the work of artists, botanists and philosophers, and that reveals some of the latest research on these members, sometimes so undervalued, of the vegetable kingdom.

The Cartier pour l'art contemporain Foundation hosts until November 10, 2019 an exhibition that fuses the beauty and biological richness of trees through paintings, drawings, photographs, films and installations.

The works are signed by artists from all parts of the world -like Latin America, the United States and Europe- and of indigenous communities like Nivaclé and Guaraní (from the Gran Chaco, in Paraguay) or the Indians Yanomami, They live in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

Sans titre, 2009 © Salim Karami


The discovery of some faculties of trees hitherto unknown has given rise to the fascinating hypothesis baptized as "Plant intelligence".

Indeed, scientific research conducted in recent years has resulted in the most revealing discoveries, such as the sensory and memorial capacities of trees.

According to these findings, these living beings even possess communication skills, existing in symbiosis with other species and exerting a climatic influence that could be the answer to many of the environmental problems that exist today.

Lake Quadrado, 2010, by Luiz Zerbini © Eduardo Ortega


Trees joins the ideas and values ​​of art and science adding to a plant revolution that aims to explore and investigate both the ecological aspects themselves and in the relationship of the human being with nature.

The sample presents Three narrative threads. The first one explores tree knowledge, from botany to new plant biology.

Secondly, aesthetics, from naturalistic contemplation to dream transposition; and finally, the current devastation of trees It is told through documentary observations and pictorial testimonies.

Untitled, Tokyo, 2008 © Miguel Rio Branco


Trees -created by Bruce Albert, Hervé Chandès, Isabelle Gaudefroy-, revolves around several people who for different reasons and in different circumstances, have developed a special relationship with trees, either aesthetic, scientific or intellectual.

Thus, we have the case of the botanist Stefano Mancuso, pioneer of plant neurobiology and advocate of the concept of plant intelligence.

Mancuso has collaborated with artist Thijs Biersteker to create 'Symbiosia', an installation that "gives voice" to trees combining art and science.

Through a series of sensors placed in a horse chestnut and a turkey oak, It shows the reaction of trees to the environment and pollution in real time, as well as the phenomenon of photosynthesis, root communication and the idea of ​​plant memory.

Série Quasi Oasis, 17, Santiago du Chili, 2012 © Sebastián Mejía

Another fundamental pillar of the exhibition has been the botanist Francis Hallé, whose work constitutes a valuable testimony of the encounter between science and sensitivity.

In the exhibition we can also contemplate Fabrice Hyberhas's paintings, artist and sower, who planted 300,000 tree seeds in his valley in Vendée, and whose work he offers a poetic and personal observation of the plant world, questioning the principles of rhizome growth, energy, mutation, mobility and metamorphosis.

Other artists and collaborators who have participated in the exhibition are the Italian architect Cesare Leonardi, the Brazilian artist Luiz Zerbini, the Colombian artist Johanna Street (whose trees of ghostly silhouettes evoke the fragility of these giants threatened by deforestation), the film director Encina Peace, the multimedia artist Tony Oursler, the now missing French film director Agnès Varda and the Peruvian photographer Sebastián Mejía.

Paysage de mesures, 2019 © Fabrice Hyber


Visitors to the exhibition are also invited to stroll through the wonderful garden of the Cartier Foundation, created in 1994 by the German Lothar Baumgarten and whose trees -like the Lebanese cedar planted by François-René de Chateaubriand in 1823- they inspired jean nouvel to create an architecture of reflections and transparency, playing in the dialogue between inside and outside and giving rise to "fleeting emotions".

The garden is the home of several works of art, some created especially for this exhibition, others permanently installed there.

Agnès Varda He moved the tree trunk he once planted in his small garden on rue Daguerre to the Cartier Foundation garden.

The log, crowned by the sculpture of his cat Nini, it represents the poetic synthesis of all trees "what matters in our lives: the cherry tree in the garden, the weeping willow on the road to the market, a giant cedar under which I loved to sit, and the trees here and there, whom we greet in passing ”(Agnès Varda, Paris, March 11, 2019).

The Cartier Foundation garden © Eric Sander

Hidden among the vegetation, we can distinguish the bronze footprint Biforcazioneby Giuseppe Penone, commissioned by the Cartier Foundation in 1987.

During a week of autumn, Theatrum Botanicum will become the scene of a video installation created by Tony Oursler and at sunset, Eclipse It will transform the garden into an enchanted forest.

The sculpture of Nini, the cat by Agnès Varda © Edouard Caupeil

On the occasion of the exhibition Trees, the Cartier Foundation has launched two exceptional publications. First, the exhibition catalog, which presents, through 500 images and a vast collection of scientific and critical studies, all the pieces on display.

Turning its pages we can delight in the works of writers, painters, photographers, architects, sculptors, philosophers, botanists and climatologists.

Second, the book The architecture of the treesby Cesare Leonardi and Franca Stagi, It is the result of a botanical study conducted by these Italian architects for over twenty years and was initially designed for urban park planning.

Tree architecture brings together more than 550 drawings of 212 tree species, each drawn on a scale of 1: 100. This scientific and aesthetic study, first published in 1982, is a reference work for architects, landscape designers and designers, as well as for anyone fascinated by trees and their infinite variety.

Monstera Deliciosa, 2018, by Luiz Zerbini © Pat Kilgore

Trees can be visited until November 10, from Tuesday to Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Tuesdays until 10 p.m.

Also exist Guided visits from Tuesday to Friday at 6pm.

You can buy your tickets here.

Serie A Picturesque Voyage Through Brazil © Cássio Vasconcellos

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