The Oort Cloud Fountain Jean-Michel Othoniel

Franeker
‘On my first visit to Franeker I was struck by the unique mediaeval style and human scale of the city. I learned that Franeker was once a university town that welcomed many prominent scholars, and it was the birthplace of Jan Hendrik Oort, one of the most important astronomers of the twentieth century. My design is a homage to the “cloud” that was described by Oort and that now bears his name.
New cultural heritage
in eleven Dutch cities
New cultural heritage
in eleven Dutch cities

I wanted to give the fountain the same scale as the beautiful “fountains of youth and immortality” that graced the central squares of many cities and villages in the Middle Ages. The Oort Cloud Fountain was designed as a series of waterfalls that flow from a large basin along a vertical chain of night-coloured pearls. Two large beads stand out: one of them silver, like the colour of the moon, the other gilded, the colour of the sun. The Oort Cloud takes shape as a mist of very fine droplets that fall into the basin from a mesh of golden tubes around the “sun”. ‘This delicate work of art is located in a small city park at the foot of the Martini Church. The benches surrounding it make it a meeting place where time no longer exists, in the midst of unique flowers that refer to the stins flowers in the nearby Martena Garden.’

Jean-Michel Othoniel (France, 1964) lives and works in Paris. Othoniel won great acclaim with his use of Murano glass, with which he creates multi-coloured sculptures in the form of large ‘beads’. The piece he designed in 2000 for the entrance to the Palais Royal-Musée du Louvre metro station established his reputation worldwide. In 2016, after having worked on the commission for eight years, his magnificent interior of the rebuilt Angoulême cathedral was unveiled, complete with new floor motifs and stained glass windows. Othoniel exhibits in major international galleries and museums. In 2011 the Centre Pompidou presented a retrospective of his work from 1987 onwards, which was also shown in Seoul, Tokyo, Macao and New York. In May 2015 at the Palace of Versailles ‘Les belles Danses’ was unveiled, a large fountain based on the dance steps of Louis XIV. It is the first permanent work of art to be placed in the palace gardens since the death of the Sun King himself.

 

 

Fountains