Janniot’s legal heir opposes Kawamata’s project for the Palais de la Porte Doree

Alfred Janniot (1889-1969)
The Congo, detail from the bas-relief
of the facade
of the Palais de la Porte Dorée
Photo : All rights reserved

28/3/10– Heritage – Paris, Palais de la Porte Doree – Under French law, an artist’s heirs also hold the moral rights to his work. These rights are unalienaible. Thus legal heirs can prevent the destruction of a work or its disfiguration.

Anne Demeurisse inherited all of the rights related to the work of Alfred Janniot from his widow. In December 1999, she created the Association des Amis d’Alfred Janniot and has worked actively to defend the sculptor’s legacy, notably through exhibitions and publications. Inevitably, she now opposes the erection of a structure by Kawamata (see our articles) in front of the façade of the Palais de la Porte Doree. Her lawyer, Maitre Philippe Zagury, thus contacted the Cite de l’Immigration and the Ministry of Culture. They would indeed be responsible for the consequences if this project, which diminishes Janniot’s moral rights, were to be carried out as planned currently.
Having been informed by the articles in The Art Tribune, Anne Demeurisse took some time to react–but not too late–as authorities had dissembled their true intentions. They answered her questions by showing her an alternative project which only included the footwalk, without the “nest” which hides the façade, stating that this was a temporary installation [1]. However, although the construction permit does not specifically say that this is a permanent installation, it does not set a precise time limit and the Cite website states that this would be “Kawamata’s first permanent work”. For the Alfred Janniot Association, the issue is not to oppose a contemporary art work, but rather to ensure that the sculptor’s art be respected.

We can only hope that the Cite de l’Immigration and the Minister of Culture will rethink their position. On the contrary, the latter, based on the Association’s request should definitely abandon this project as it would disfigure Laprade and Janniot’s masterpiece in a profound way [2].

Didier Rykner, dimanche 28 mars 2010


[1] We know that the same thing was said to the members of the Commission nationale des monuments historiques.

[2] Let us remember that Janniot worked with the help of the sculptors Charles Barberis and Gabriel Forestier in executing the direct carving of the façade.

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