Aren’t those more like colored triangles? Yes. But I guess the 4,761 striped flags in French conceptual artist Daniel Buren’s piece, on view through Nov. 11 in the sky above One Colorado in Old Pasadena, together form a square.
There are 69 lines of flags. Each line holds 69 flags. I know not of any sexy significance to these facts. Its other numbers are more pedestrian: 22.5 feet above the ground. (Don’t you just love that we’re not given some metrical nonsense?) Each flag is 13.5 inches long. The piece shades 70 feet by 70 feet of the courtyard.
Wednesday morning various chic French people from the consulate and the local Alliance Francaise, the women in wonderful shoes, joined One Colo, Armory Center for the Arts and Pasadena Convention and Visitors Bureau folks in feting the big sky thingie. Sadly, Pommery Champagne, another sponsor, was not there. We drank black coffee.
Buren is not all that well known here but is big everywhere else, with installations at the Palais Royal, New York’s Guggenheim and Beijing’s Forbidden City.
The proper question is indeed the one you are already asking — what makes this different than those plastic flags you see fluttering every day above freeway-close used-car lots?
It is hard to say — but not hard to know the answer to your question when you go see it. Not art hoax, but art. It just works: Something about the small sounds of the thousands of flags fluttering. About the trellis-like shade effect it provides in the courtyard. About the fastidious preciseness with which Buren designed and executed the site-specific piece. Yes, about its quiet commentary on the retail commerce all around it. And about its ephemerality.
Actually, we’re the ones, sort of, who will force that latter issue — force “Colored Square” to come down. Day after Thanksgiving is the annual Charles Cherniss Tournament of Toys charity Christmas tree lighting in the same courtyard, kickoff for the newspaper’s charity toy drive with One Colo and Jaycees. Tree’s so tall it would poke right through the art.