The Monumental Fountain: a work in perpetual motion

Fontaine Monumentale

You sit on its edge to soak up the sun, you sometimes swim in it when it's too hot, but the Fontaine Monumentale is a work of art! Created in 1975 by the Israeli artist Yaacov Agam, it is located in the extension of the historic axis of Paris. At first glance, Agam's fountain captivates with its monumental size and vivid colors.

Also known as the Agam Fountain, this work of art is composed of multi-hued Venetian enamels. Even standing still, it evokes movement thanks to its shimmering colors, reminiscent of the rainbow, the symbol of the artist's work.

For La Défense, Agam conceived a total work of art, equipped with complex machinery. Initially incorporating a sound dimension, this was deactivated to avoid disturbance in the public space. Everything is done to bring the work to life: the color, the light, the rhythm of the water, and the resulting optical illusions for passers-by.

From art to technology

In 1974, Germain Viatte, then director of contemporary documentation at the Centre George-Pompidou, suggested that the Place de La Défense should not only create very large pieces, but also design public spaces. In no time at all, the developer commissioned several internationally renowned artists to create monumental works for the area. Among the works arriving in the 70s: Calder's Red Spider, Miro's Fantastic Characters but also Agam's Monumental Fountain !

To power its sixty-six water jets, which can reach heights of up to 14.50 metres, the work conceals a veritable machinery. The jets are driven by variable speed drives and are positioned to follow a curved pattern in the main basin. A 3m-high waterfall reservoir provides a link between the main pool and the underground technical pools.

Fire in the fountain?

And it's not just music that Agam wanted to include in his work! The artist also planned for the presence of fire with a "sculptofeux" system combining flaming gas torches and water jets. After testing this technique, it was unfortunately not installed, as it was deemed too complex and dangerous.

For those who want to see a real spectacle, several times a day, the 70 water jets of the Monumental Fountain dance in harmony to create a veritable aquatic symphony!

And until October, the Fontaine Monumentale is being showcased thanks to Les Extatiques 2023. Just a few meters away, you can admire a modern work of art: CorailArtefact CCA1.

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