16.09.2023 — 15.01.2024

Enchan-Temps : The Eyes of the Sky [Les Yeux du Ciel]

Antoine Grumbach

Marais Space

I see the eye of the one who sees my eye
Antoine Grumbach

Véronique Jaeger is pleased to announce the second part of the annual ENCHAN-TEMPS cycle, the exhibition Les Yeux du Ciel devoted to artist-architect Antoine GRUMBACH, opening on Saturday, September 16, during the Heritage Days.

Antoine Grumbach (1942) is an artist-architect and urban designer who graduated from the Ecole des Beaux-arts in Paris in 1967 and received the Grand Prix National d’Urbanisme et d’Art Urbain in 1992. His international achievements are countless, as are his major architectural and urban planning projects, which include the Cours Mirabeau in Aix-en-Provence, the new inhabited bridge over the Thames in London, as well as the restructuration of Shanghai’s historic district, Greater Moscow, the Paris tramway and the Greater Paris “Seine Métropole” project… and including his teaching activities for over forty years at the Ecoles nationales d’architecture in Paris-La Villette and Belleville, the Ponts et Chaussées and the universities of Harvard, Princeton, Essex and Toronto. Well-known as an urban fixer, Antoine Grumbach sees the city as continuous, infinitely complex and perpetually unfinished, envisioning its development and renewal without necessarily anticipating its demolition or replacement; he sees modernity not as a rupture or restoration, but rather as a skillful interweaving of past and present. Recognized for his significant reflection on the perpetual incompleteness of cities, and concerned with the enhancement of the environment, he has been involved in the junction of the Metropolis with the territory of Nature for decades, first in Greater Paris, then in Greater Moscow. This reflection, nourished by his long experience as an architect and urban planner, led to the realization that by 2050, the majority of the planet’s inhabitants will be living in metropolises, and that it is therefore essential from the outset to integrate territories of Nature into these cities. He found that they are inseparable from the Earth, and that inert soil from construction excavations in the Ile-de-France region, which represents 10 million m3 per year (equivalent to 4 Khufu pyramids), was a useful material for creating landscaping and remedying soil pollution as we move into the Anthropocene Epoch.


Like such Land Artists as Robert Smithson, Michael Heizer, Robert Morris or Dennis Oppenheim, Antoine Grumbach conceived a work of Aerial Art, entitled Les Yeux du Ciel [The Eyes of the Sky], a gaze at Earth that can be visited both from the inside as well as the outside since it is offered up to the sky, in the manner of the Nazca Lines, a group of geoglyphs in the desert of Peru. 

Les Yeux du Ciel are located at Villeneuve-sous-Damartin, on the axis of the runways of the Roissy-Charles de Gaulle airport, on a plateau measuring 1.6 kilometers long, 800 meters wide and 30 meters high. It is one of the largest sites for the reuse of excavated soil in the construction industry developed by the company ECT. Driven by the belief that inert an excavated Earth from construction sites throughout his life as an architect is not waste, but a noble and fertile material that can be recycled, Grumbach approached the company ECT, which manages this soil, with a proposal for a work of  Aerial Art that reconciles circular industry, landscape and monumental art. On landing as well as on takeoff, airline passengers will see two wide-open eyes celebrating the welcomes and farewells of travelers to the Paris region. The two eyes, each measuring 400 x 170 meters, will be surrounded by trees in the middle of cultivated fields, on an open-air / outdoor theatre represented by a mound laid out in grassy tiers.

The first Western eye, Icare, will be inaugurated in September 2023, during the French Heritage Days. This eye has been imagined as an open-air museum celebrating the union of earth and sky, accompanied by a collection of large images of geoglyphs from around the world. This site will become the world’s first museum of aerial landscape art. The design of the iris pays homage to aeronautical flight, and is directly inspired by the prehistoric monument at Stonehenge in Britain. Two sets of panels in concentric circles present on one, the exploration of the sky from antiquity to the present day; and on the other, a selection of large reproductions (7.20 x 3.60 meters) of Aerial Landscape Art, from prehistoric geoglyphs to the most recent examples. In the center, a recessed half-dome shows a map of the sky.

The second Eastern eye, Dédale, will open in 2025-2026. The Eastern iris will provide a lookout point, an observatory of the sky. Surrounding the tree-lined belvedere that overlooks them will be four labyrinths made of the materials used to build the plateau where they are located and a garden labyrinth that echoes the tradition of parks. The viewpoint in millstone will be equipped with a table map in enameled lava on its periphery, with a description of the landscape and the history of the site and beyond, literary quotations and sketches. In the center, a Ginkgo Biloba, a tree symbolizing resilience and longevity, as the first tree to grow back in Hiroshima a year after the nuclear bomb destroyed the city.


This exceptional, monumental Aerial Landscape Art project, built on Earth and designed with terrestrial materials, to be seen both from the ground and from the sky, also makes it possible for the private company ECT to affirm its position as a patron of the arts, alike the great patronage in the Renaissance. Starting from Antoine Grumbach’s principle I see the eye of the one who sees my eye, this architect-artist thus situates himself in the Millenary history of the great terrestrial tracings visible from space, such as the Nazca Lines which will be seen by the 170 million travelers taking off or landing from Roissy CDG in 2026. An artwork made by Man with the materials of Earth and for the Earth.

The Gallery will present model-sculptures in clay and marble animated by his eyes in painted azulejo tiles, drawings, photographs and films of this eponymous monumental work on the scale of Greater Paris, whose first eye will be inaugurated in mid-September in conjunction with our exhibition, during the French Heritage Days. Antoine Grumbach’s work has always developed on an intimate scale through drawing, pencil in hand, guided by the bedrock of memory, filled with the imagination and poetry of word and shape associations, as seen in the 105 drawings from his Encyclopédie Vagabonde , on display at the gallery. For Antoine Grumbach, drawing is both an experiment and an analysis of experiences: its immediacy and transparency allow for all degrees of montage, collage, transposition and recuperation in relation to the “found” present and the “re-found” past. In this sense, rather than traditionally conceived architecture, Antoine Grumbach’s drawing shows us, through its fluidity, how the history of the work and the resulting construction is both recorded by automatic writing and projected simultaneously into the future of the past.

The exhibition will also feature two other major projects in progress:

The Belvédères du Grand-Paris are artificial hills in a 30-kilometer circle around Paris, the “lungs” of the Paris metropolis, with Notre-Dame at its center. The creation of this work reveals a circular economy approach to excavated earth (22 million tons per year). Artificial hills, a barometer of the action taken by the municipal administration, generate a system of symbolic places in the Grand Paris metropolis. The importance of the urban flow of materials is reflected in this series of “green oases” around which urbanization will be able to spread. Located on the boundary between urban areas and farmland and forests, these lookouts offer a variety of landscapes to discover. Each hill will be inscribed like a monumental Janus head, revealing the fragile limits between the two gazes. Les Yeux du Ciel constitutes the first belvedere around Paris. These hills were initially drawn and sculpted in the wet sand of the beaches at Deauville as ephemeral artworks, then photographed before being destroyed by the wind, the sea or passers-by. Photographs and drawings of these belvederes will be exhibited.

The Axe de Lumière imagined by landscape architect Léna Soffer-Grumbach, retraces the historical axis of Paris to Le Havre. A work on the scale of the territory, where each point of the axis that meets the Seine becomes an opportunity to reveal the landscape and the site’s natural elements, Sky/Earth/Water/Light. This was designed to integrate art, culture and nature into Antoine Grumbach’s Greater Paris project, Paris-Rouen-Le Havre, of which the Seine is the main axis. Antoine Grumbach is convinced that the identity of metropolises is shaped by their geographical nature, of which the Seine valley and its watershed are the marker. A model-sculpture by Léna Soffer-Grumbach will depict this Babylonian project.


The exhibition Les Yeux du Ciel, is the second part of a cycle of three exhibitions in 2023-24 entitled ENCHAN-TEMPS, conceived by Véronique Jaeger, reflecting the gallery’s commitment to questions of sustainable development and the environment and to a reflection on space, movement and memory, in the work of artists whose monumental creations are both deeply rooted in sites of memory on Earth, but is also revealed in their fullness and monumentality when seen from above, from Heaven – artists whose work, unique and profound, made by and for human beings, is fundamentally visionary and inherently valuable.

At a time when we are facing fundamental questions for the future of humanity, including Artificial Intelligence with all its advantages and dangers, global warming and the urbanization of cities transformed into megacities, the gallery is more than ever committed to defending artists who propose a world based on notions of sustainable development, balance and peace, combining in their works past, present and future visions, a world that embodies the major challenges of the 21st century.

“Les Yeux du Ciel is the mature work of an architect, urban planner and artist that combines his vast experience and inner vision with the projection, perpetual movement and globalism of an outer vision, opening up the green and artistic possibility of a metropolis nourished by his faith in the sustainable development of art. Purifying the gaze in search of content and depth, between memory and dream, between the ephemeral and the timeless, to make visible and enhance, through this majestic gaze, all the relevance of a work between Earth and Sky. Les Yeux du Ciel is also creating a new art form, Aerial landscape Art, which raises the question of what a work of art can be on the scale of a metropolis; it also inspires thinking about the challenges of Greater Paris, the relationship between culture and nature, the usefulness of a material as symbolic, creative and versatile as earth and the subtle beauty of its infinite nuances. This cross-reflection between Metropolitan Land Art and Aerial Art opens up new artistic perspectives,” wrote Véronique Jaeger on Antoine Grumbach’s work.

This cycle of exhibitions entitled ENCHAN-TEMPS, inaugurated in February 2023 with the current exhibition Habiter la Terre – Archéologie Intérieure by Dani Karavan and Jean-Paul Philippe, will continue in mid-September with Les Yeux du Ciel by Antoine Grumbach, and will close with the exhibition Le Souffle d’Ici – L’Eau de là [The Breath of Here – The Water Beyond] by Susumu Shingu, sculptor of water and wind with whom the gallery has been collaborating since 2006, who created a Wind Museum in Japan and recently exhibited at the Château de Chambord to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Leonardo da Vinci’s death. Susumu Shingu is currently preparing an exhibition with Renzo Piano at the Nakanoshima Art Museum in Osaka, Japan, entitled Parallel Lives, which opens on July 12; they have completed over a dozen projects together. The exhibition will also provide an opportunity to delve deeper into Susumu Shingu’s research into perpetual movement based on the natural energies that drive his sculpture, with drawings, paintings, sculptures and models of his major projects.