CENTRE POMPIDOU METZ
Views From Above
May 17 - October 7, 2013
Views from above considers how an elevated perspective, from the first aerial photographs of the mid-nineteenth century to the satellite images, has transformed artists' perception of the world.
Covering more than two thousand square metres, the exhibition gives us the power of Icarus and in some five hundred works (paintings, photographs, drawings, films, architecture models, installations, books and journals) offers a singular and spectacular view of modern and contemporary art.
There has been a considerable regain in interest in the aerial view over recent years. From the success of Yann Arthus-Bertrand's Earth From Above to the popularity of Google Earth, we are fascinated by this bird'seye view as much for the beauty of the landscapes it reveals as for the feeling of omnipotence it inspires.
The exhibition draws on this popularity to return to the origins of aerial photography and explore its impact on the work of artists and, consequently, the history of art.
When Nadar took his first aerial photographs from a hot-air balloon in the 1860s, he freed the gaze. To contemplate the world not at eye-level but from a flying machine was to destroy the perspective thinking of the Renaissance, based on the human scale. The moving, floating body is no longer the fixed point that conditions our vision of space. This new, panoramic view blurs landmarks and relief, slowly transforming the land into a flat surface whose visual reference points are no longer distinguishable one from the other.
Right up to today, artists, photographers, architects and film-makers have continued to explore the aesthetic and semantic implications of this displaced perspective. Now this fascinating journey is the subject of an unprecedented multidisciplinary exhibition.
The exhibition unfolds in eight themed sections – displacement, planimetrics, extension, detachment, domination, topography, urbanisation, supervision – that travel through the modern era, marked by two world wars. Innovative scenography takes visitors through time as well as space: little by little, the "view from above" rises from balcony level to a satellite.