The Cour de Bar in the Palais Ducal, Dijon Victimized by Yves Lion

1. Room with tombs
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon
Photo : Perspective des ateliers Lion Architectes Urbanistes 2012

14/5/13 - Heritage - Dijon, Musée des Beaux-Arts - The Musée des Beaux-Arts in Dijon which has been under renovation work since 2008 (but which had the excellent idea of not closing and proceeding in stages), will open a new itinerary for its Medieval and Renaissance collections on 7 September.

We will return in due time to this inauguration. Although what we glimpsed during the news conference held today in Paris indicates a fine museum layout and a larger number of works on view, one point however shocked us : the construction of a contemporary addition overlooking one wing of the Cour de Bar. This courtyard is made up of diverse buildings, ranging from the 14th to the 19th century. If an addition was really needed in order to make the museum visit more coherent with the 19th century building which does not present any particularly exceptional characteristics, it should have been done in a more respectful and modest manner.
Alas, an "architectural statement" was deemed a must (today’s trend) and Yves Lion, one of France’s most mediocre architects, was chosen, though his past contributions have been tremendously traumatic for historical monuments. In the 90’s, he inflicted his misguided talents on the Hôtel Hénault de Cantobre in the Marais - now the Maison de la Photographie - notably by eliminating all the old woodwork and floors, and by demolishing, on the rue de Fourcy, the coach house which closed the courtyard. This was before The Art Tribune was founded but we have already talked here about his most recent exploits, including the château de Blérancourt or the Square de la République in Poitiers.

2. View of the Cour de Bar
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon
Photo : Perspective des ateliers Lion
Architectes Urbanistes 2012

3. View of the wing built by Yves Lion
Cour de Bar
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon
Photo : Adrien Goreac
Photo : Ville de Dijon

4. View of the wing built by Yves Lion
Cour de Bar
Musée des Beaux-Arts de Dijon
Seen on 9 October 2012
Photo : Sarah Hugounencq

The trademark of such an architect, whose principal virtue is certainly not modesty, is to impose an obvious mark of his presence. Why accept the commission if not ? The result here is a façade in copper with absolutely no opening, which stands out glaringly by its volume, material and color, overwhelming visitors (ill. 2 and 3). When we last visited Dijon for the very beautiful exhibition Rude, this wing had already been built and we had not noticed it. Does this mean that the structure in question, which we find absolutely brutal in appearance, is in fact a subtle achievement ? Not at all : the reason is simply that at the time, the courtyard was under construction work and we were convinced we were looking at a palissade put there to cover the scaffolding (ill. 4) ! At best, it looks like an advertising billboard without the advertising.
We should remember that the Palace of the Ducs de Bourgogne is listed as a historical monument in a protected historical zone of the city. The fact that the DRAC authorized such an eyesore on this important site, that the Commission nationale des monuments historiques (which, it appears, was consulted) allowed it says much about the application (or not) of the Code du Patrimoine. We are happy to hear that the French Ministry of Culture wishes to vote a new law on the subject, but perhaps it should first make sure that existing ones are enforced. How would the authorities have reacted if a private individual had wished to impose an "architectural statement" on a historical monument ?

In the press release, Yves Lion explains the confrontation between old architecture and contemporary additions : "we need to be sincere, not imitate, accept these confrontations while remaining polite with both our predecessors and today’s public". We will be sincere, as he so desires, in our response : this project is not polite, it is frankly outrageous. True, in defending his construction, the architect pronounced very telling words : "some very elegant people found it very beautiful" [sic]. His arguments are as convincing as his architecture.
We are sorry we discovered this architectural wart only after it was built and we regret not having kept a close eye on the project. One thing is however very clear and that is that we can no longer trust the current system for protecting French heritage.

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Didier Rykner, mercredi 15 mai 2013

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