Dialogue of Blues
The work of the late sculptor and pioneering female artist Niki de Saint Phalle sparks a conversation with the young Swiss artist Manon Wertenbroek at the Collector’s Lounge of Art Bassel 2018, writes Aussy Aportadera
Amidst the pristine clarity created by the crystal and glass in place within the room, the bold neck of a snake enlivens the space. Its bright colours and patterns stand tall atop its body, tinted in an intense cobalt blue. The hue is rich and vibrant, exuding youth and even mischief in its tone—not quite calm as in ocean blue; not as pensive as is the sky. Cobalt blue is reminiscent of something past, tinged with nostalgia, but it is also free; nothing holds it back.
One can only imagine that such spirit of pioneering vision is what inspired La Prairie to colour their Skin Caviar packaging in this shade more than 30 years ago. The sculpture at the centre of focus is the Pouf Serpent Bleu by French-American artist Niki de Saint Phalle. On display at the luxury skincare brand’s Collectors Lounge in Art Basel 2018, it is clear that the feminist sculptor impacted a lasting influence on La Prairie.
In time for the launch of the Skin Caviar Luxe Cream, which has been remastered with Caviar Premier, La Prairie commissioned the young Swiss artist Manon Wertenbroek to collaborate with the iconic work of de Saint Phalle. The result was a dynamic exhibit of three exclusive pieces—each echoing in commentary and dialogue with the sculpture that started it all. Using reflective surfaces as her materials, Wertenbroek created abstractions to express the heritage of La Prairie as her theme.
In Mirrors, she displays science in an exchange of knowledge and ideas through the infinite relationship between two reflective surfaces. In Blue Portrait, an empty, undrawn face reflects the audience’s own image, putting emphasis on aesthetics as it pulls the viewer deeper into layers of reflection—literally and figuratively. In Window Glimpse, Wertenbroek mimics the impulse of passers-by to indulge in catching their reflection on a shop window in deeply traced lines that recall parallel frames.
“We are thrilled to be collaborating with Manon on such an inspiring project. Her work is at once completely contemporary and forever timeless,” said La Prairie President and CEO Patrick Rasquinet of the artist. “Throughout the three works she has created for us, her use of cobalt blue is striking, and reminds us of the legacy of de Saint Phalle, a feminist, cosmopolitan an artist who settled in Switzerland to dedicate dicate icate herself to her work. The T energy, which vibrates e es throughout the pieces s by Manon, a 21st-century Swiss female artist carvingng a place for herself in n the world of contemporary art, iiss truly inspiring for us.”
CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT Mirrors, an intimate relationship between two reflective surfaces; Swiss artist, Manon Wertenbroek; Pouf Serpent Bleu by Niki de Saint Phalle; the making of Window Glimpse and Blue Portrait