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Child's play: Daniel Buren at Museo Madre

08.05.2015. Art & Culture

Wooden building blocks are the archetypal pre-school toy; they seem to have been with us forever. Yet they have a very precise origin. Known officially as ‘Fröbel gifts’, and designed to stimulate infant creativity, they were invented by German educationalist Friedrich Fröbel in the early nineteenth century for the world’s first kindergarten, in Bad Blankenburg. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright credits them as being at the root of his earliest interest in the architectural process: “For several years I sat at the little kindergarten table-top and played with the cube, the sphere and the triangle – these smooth wooden maple blocks. All are in my fingers to this day”.

French artist Daniel Buren has made a career out of combining conceptual visual interests with architectural settings, most notably in the artistic sign that has become his trademark – alternating white and coloured stripes, each exactly 8.7cm wide. In his latest installation, on display until 31 August, Naples’ Madre contemporary art museum, Buren has created, with the help of architect Patrick Bouchain, a sort of Kindergarten City out of giant versions of Fröbel’s elementary geometric shapes – the cylinder, the square, the triangle and the arch. Visitors embark on a “stroll through colour”, from the initial monochrome shapes to others painted in bold candy-box hues.

Entitled Come un gioco da bambini (‘Like a children’s game’), this delightfully ludic installation is the first of a series of projects commissioned from Buren for the Madre museum’s tenth birthday, that are designed “to celebrate the relationship between the museum and its public, between the institution and its community”.

Museo Madre, Naples, until 31 August. Open Mon-Sat 10am-7.30pm, Sun 10am-8pm.

Pictures: © Roberto Salomone

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