Jean-Max Albert

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Jean-Max Albert
JMA prtr 250914.jpg
Albert in Paris in 2014
Jean-Max Louis Albert

(1942-07-25)25 July 1942
Known for
  • Painting
  • sculpture
  • literature

Jean-Max Albert[a] (born 1942) is a French painter, sculptor, writer, and musician. He has published theory, artist's books, a collection of poems, plays and novels inspired by quantum physics. He perpetuated a reflexion initiated by Paul Klee and Edgar Varèse on the transposition of musical structures into formal constructions. He created plant architectures which come close to site-specific art, environmental sculpture and generative art.


Jean-Max Albert was born on 25 July 1942, in Loches, France. He studied at the Ecole Régionale des Beaux-Arts d'Angers then at the Ecole Nationale des Beaux-Arts de Paris, with frequent visits to the Louvre, across the river (cf An Afternoon in the Louvre). His student friends introduced him to the works of Claude-Nicolas Ledoux, Louis Kahn, and Carlo Scarpa. Albert was also a trumpet player (1962–64),[1] joining Henri Texier’s quintet with Alain Tabarnouval in the beginnings of Free Jazz.[2] The group performed in clubs, festivals and concerts.[3]

Photon Propagation, Model, 2013
Project for a monument to calmodulin,1991

In 1975 he initiated the group show Serres in François Horticultural Greenhouses, Magny-in-Vexin.[4] Sculptor Mark di Suvero invited him to New York City, the first of many visits to United States. In 1981 he met Sara Holt, whose sculpture and photographs were inspired by astronomy. They collaborated and carried out various public art projects.[5] Travels in Europe, North Africa, Middle East.[6]

In 1985 he took part to Ars Technica Association connected to the Cité des Sciences et de l'Industrie uniting philosophers, artists, scientists such as Jean-Marc Levy-Leblond, Claude Faure, Sara Holt, Piero Gilardi, Jean-Claude Mocik, reflecting on the relationship between art and new technologies.[7] In 1990, he was commissioned by the architects Wylde-Oubrerie as collaborating artist for the realisation of Miller House[8] in Lexington. Then invited to give lectures and workshops for the University of Architecture of Kentucky and then for the Art Center of Design in Pasadena.

Edgar Varese, in his comments, often refers to solid geometry[9] and György Ligeti to static music.[10] His experience in the musical field enabled Jean-Max Albert to exchange on these subjects with musicians such as : György Ligeti, Steve Lacy, Barney Wilen, François Tusques.[11] He creates monumental trellis-works : Iapetus (1985) which refers to the structure of Thelonious Monk's ‘’Misterioso’’ »,[12] Ligeti (1994), which refers to Ligeti’s «static sonorous surfaces». A book and exhibition followed : Thelonious Monk Architecte (2001). A collaboration with pianist and composer François Tusques results in 80 short films: Around the Blues in 80 Worlds (2008).[13][14] With Jean-Claude Mocik, he is coauthor of the project Midi-Pile started in 1994.[15]

Beside sculptures related to music, he conceived a project dedicated to the vegetation itself, in terms of biological activity. The utopian Calmoduline Monument is based on the property of a protein, calmodulin, to bond selectively to calcium. Exterior physical constraints (wind,rain, etc.) modify the electric potential of the cellular membranes of a plant and consequently the flux of calcium. However, the calcium controls the expression of the calmoduline gene. The plant can thus, when there is a stimulus, modify its « typical » growth pattern. So the basic principle of this monumental sculpture is that to the extent that they could be picked up and transported, these signals could be enlarged, translated into colors and shapes, and show the plant’s « decisions ». This permanent show, installed in a public place, would suggest a level of fundamental biological activity.[16][17]


Portraits of the Loire ; Framing Sculptures ; Que voit-on quand on ne regarde pas ? (What do you see when you are not looking?)[18] or subjects more episodical: Memories of a Train Journey, Thelonious Monk Architect, Afternoon in the Louvre or The Carpenters’ Design, Albert’s painting are not limited to a particular style. He likes to cite Chinese masters of the classical period, mentioned by Matisse[19] who taught the student to identify with his subject: to paint the tree in its expansion, the rock in its rugged massiveness and mentions that the precept can be also found in General semantics by Alfred Korzybski: "To be efficient, a language should be similar in its structure to the structure of the event it is supposed to represent". This idea that an artwork should be autonomous — epoch and even author's identity, taking second place — has provoked vigorous discussions with artists friends, notably with painter Joan Mitchell.[20]


Monumental sculpture[edit]

Around 1973, a meeting with the architect Louis Kahn, led him to compare the relationship between paint and canvas with that of vegetation on trellis.[21] Jean-Max Albert then revisited the tradition of trellis-work,[22][23] 18th-century utopic architecture and, finally, created vegetal architecture which came close to Land art and Environmental Sculpture.[24][25] It was comparable to the work of Gordon Matta-Clark, or Nils Udo, his neighbour in the Wissenschaftszentrum exhibition in Bonn in 1979.[26] From Vicenza[27] at the Hôtel de Sully, Paris, 1975 (in collaboration with Fougeras Lavergnolle) until the project O=C=O for the "Parco d' Arte Vivente" in Torino, 2007 (by way of the Festival of the Gardens of Chaumont, 1996), Albert created many architectural and vegetal sculptures on trellis-work in the field of Site-specific art, Environmental sculpture and Generative art.[28][29]

Sculptures Bachelard (= Sculptures de visées)[edit]

Espace Détaché
Observation Sculpture, 2002

While monumental sculpture is meant to be installed within an urban or rustic space, Albert’s Observation Sculpture aims to concentrate the surrounding environment in the sculpture. When looking in the Observation Sculpture through its sights (an aperture or circles), the space beyond is (roughly) framed. Combining the different perspectives framed, the little sculpture, usually in bronze, takes shape after the space it is aiming at. An Observation Sculpture proposes a summary of this space concentrated, agglomerated and stuck together in a kind of core, like a geometric model of the site’s character.[30][31]


Albert realized Un carré pour un square, Cube fantôme and Reflet anamorphose,[32] three pieces according to anamorphosis principle as described by Matilde Marcolli : «  If the vector space one starts with is the 3-dimensional space, whose vectors have 3-coordinates v = (x1, x2, x3), then, as long as v is nonzero and a real number λ is also nonzero, the vector v = (x1, x2, x3) and the vector λv = (λx1, λx2, λx3) point along the same straight line and we consider them as being the same point of our projective space. »[33]

For Un carré pour un square the perspective of a square is seen from a specific vantage point. The design is formed by a set of lines of narrow plates of Carrara marble imbricated in the walls of the surrounding buildings and in the vestiges of a former construction site. A low wall and a pillar in masonry were created to shape the other side of the design.[34][35][36] In another example by the same artist, the specific vantage point is indicated by one of the Observation Sculptures[37] set in Paris, Parc de la Villette. In this work, the anamorphosis appears as a reflection of a bronze construction[38] This reflection discreetly shows the inclusion of a circle in a square in a triangle, in reference to the concept plan of the park by the architect Bernard Tschumi.[39][40] Notably, Reflet Anamorphose allows, from the specific vantage point, to observe simultaneously the design and its anamorphosis.

Public works[edit]

  • Vicenza, Hotel de Sully, Paris 1977
  • Attique, Künstler-Garten, Wissenschaftszentrum, Bonn, Germany, 1979
  • Iapetus,[41] Parc de l'école des beaux-arts, Angoulême, 1985, 45°39’15.246’’N0°8’54.834’’E
  • Rayon, Centre Culturel Français, Damascus, Syria, 1986
  • Sculptures de visées,[42][43] and Reflet anamorphose Parc de la Villette, Paris, 1986, 48°53’33.8’’N2°23’26’’E
  • Cube fantôme, ZI de Goussainville, 1986
  • Autumn in Peking, South Pasadena, USA, 1987, 34°6’40’435’’N118°8’33.619’’W
  • Vers l'étoile polaire, Parc des Maillettes, Melun Sénart, 1987
  • Un carré pour un square,[44][45] Place Frehel, Paris, 1988
  • Une horloge végétale, Square Héloïse et Abelard, 24 rue Dunois, Paris, 1988, 48°49’52.745N2°22’13.12’’E
  • Planches,[46] Terrasse du Musée de la Toile de Jouy, à Jouy-en-Josas, 1990, 48°46’8.591’’N2°9’5.868’’E
  • Ligeti, Rectorat de Rouen, Rouen, 1994, 49°26’35’’N1°5’4.6’’E
  • Auriga, Rond-point Montaigne, Angers, 1995, 47°27’59’’N 0°31’30’’W
  • Tombeau de Bartillat, Etrépilly, 1997, 49°2’18’’N 2°55’53.2’’E



  • Tuteurs Fabuleux, Éditions Speed, Paris, 1978. FRBNF34609833
  • Lithium Migrants, Éditions Cheval d’Attaque, Paris, 1981. ISBN 2-86200-017-5
  • Les nouveaux voyages du capitaine Cook, Éditions ACAPA, Angoulême, 1984. ISBN 2-904353-00-3
  • Thelonious Monk Architect, Fleeting white Space, New York, 2001.
  • Space in Profile,[47][48] (French and English), Les Éditions de La Villette, Paris, 1993. ISBN 2-903539-21-9
  • Le tour du blues en 80 mondes, Sens & Tonka Editeurs, Paris, 2005. ISBN 2-84534-118-0
  • Les Querpéens I, Emma Qun'q,[49] Les Éditions du Quintelaud, Paris, 2009. ISBN 978-2-9533484-0-8
  • Les Querpéens II, Ray Quernöck,[50] Les Éditions du Quintelaud, Paris, 2012. ISBN 978-2-9533484-5-3
  • Mental image and representation, (French and English), Translation by Helen Arnold, Éditions Mercier & associés, Paris, 2018 ISBN 978-2-9563142-1-9



  • La machine à laver le temps, Mise en scène de Miguel Borras, Théâtre des Cinquantes, juin 1998
  • Nos mains sous la neige, La comète. Mise en scène de Fabrice Scott donnée au Théâtre du Trianon, Paris novembre 1998 ; Théâtre Adyar Paris, juin 1999


  • Soulages, Opus n°57, 1975
  • De l'architecture transparente, Opus n°65, 1978
  • De l'architecture transparente,[53] Lotus international n°31, 1982
  • Vuthemas, Ars technica n°4, 1991
  • Mathesis singularis, Ars technica n°7, 1992
  • Une obscurité infiniment lumineuse, Alliages n°19, 1994
  • Jean-Bernard Métais et Sir George H. Darwin, Temps imparti, Éditions Beaudoin Lebon, Paris, 2002
  • Thelonious Monk Architecte, L'art du jazz, Éditions Le Félin, Paris, 2009[54]
  • Piotr Kowalski, A contemporary’s Insights,Far-Sited : California International Sculpture Symposium 1965/2015, University Art Museum, California State University, Long Beach, 2018


  • Le tour du Blues en 80 mondes.[55] 80 short films with pianist and composer François Tusques.[56][57][58]


Choreographies and compositions[edit]

Kaluza, ballet, 2013
  • A treat “Espaces structurés” Videos by Hervé Nisic, choreography by Michala Marcus and Jean-Max Albert, music by Kent Carter.[59]
  • Carlotta's Smile, Environment and Choreography with Michala Marcus, Music Carlos Zingaro, AR CO, Lisbonne, Portugal, 1979
  • Morgane Amalia, Choreography with Michala Marcus, 2nd Symposium d'art contemporain d'Angoulême, 1980[60]
  • Kaluza, 21 pièces pour piano et chorégraphie with Sarah Berges. Dance Mission Theatre, San Francisco, 2013[61]


Exhibition Hôtel de Sully, Paris, 1977


  • Carlotta's Smile, AR CO, Lisbonne, Portugal, 1979
  • Lithium Migrants, Galerie Françoise Palluel, Paris, 1981
  • Lithium Migrants, Galerie Richard Foncke, Gand, Belgium, 1981
  • Jean-Max Albert Peintre, ACAPA, Hôtel Saint-Simon, Angoulême, France 1982
  • Lumen poème,[62][63] CRDC, Rosny-sur-Seine, 1984
  • De la roue de sel à la queue du champ,[64][65][66] Galerie Charles Sablon, Paris, 1987
  • Il fait encore assez clair pour voir qu'il commence à faire sombre, Galerie Intersection 11/20, Paris, 1991
  • Framing and Observation Sculptures,[67] Fleeting White Space, Antwerpen, Belgium, 1994
  • Thelonious Monk architecte, Aïda Kebadian, Paris, 2001
  • La collection Trousseau, Aïda Kebadian, Paris, 2002
  • Portraits de la Loire, Abbaye de Bouchemaine, Maine & Loire, France, 2002
  • Souvenir du voyage en train, Aïda Kebadian, Paris, 2010
  • October 2018, Sara Holt and Jean-Max Albert, Galerie Mercier & Associés, Paris, 2018 [68]


  • Vers une nouvelle architecture, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1978
  • Sculpture Nature, Centre d'Arts Plastiques Contemporain, Bordeaux, France,1978
  • Künstler-Garten, Wissenschaftszentrum, Bonn, Germany, 1979
  • A la recherche de l'urbanité,[69] Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1980
  • Actuele Franse Kunst,[70] International Cultureel Centrum, Antwerpen, Belgium, 1982
  • Pavillon d'Europe, Galerie de Séoul, Seoul, Korea, 1982
  • Hommage à Joseph Albers, Musée d'Angoulême, France, 1982
  • Images et imaginaires d'architecture, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris, 1984
  • Inventer 89,[71] Grande halle du Parc de la Villette, Paris, 1987
  • L'art au défi des technosciences? Pavillon Tusquet, Parc de la Villette, Paris, 1992
  • L'art renouvelle la ville, Musée National des Monuments Français, Paris, 1992
  • Ars Technica, ExtraMuseum, Turin, Italy, 1992
  • Useless Science, MoMa, New York, USA, 2000
  • Fragmentations a constructed world, Musée d’Art et d’Histoire de Saint-Brieux,[72] 2007
  • Le musée côté jardin,[73] Fond Régional d'Art Contemporain de Bretagne, 2007
  • Dalla Land arte alla bioarte,[74] Parco d'Arte Vivante, Turin, Italy, 2007
  • Tables à Desseins,[75] La tannerie, Bégard France 2013
  • Du dessin à la sculpture,[76] Musée Manoli, La Richardais, France, 2014

Public Collections[edit]

Signification as factor of order, 2014
  • Centre Pompidou CCI, Éléments pour Brancusi,[77] 1980
  • Fond Régional d'Art Contemporain de Bretagne, Blue Monk, Vicenza, 1982
  • Fond National d’Art Contemporain, Acronesia Mutikos, 1982
  • Artothèque, Angers, Passé composé, 1984
  • Fond Régional d'Art Contemporain Poitou-Charente, Iapetus, 1984
  • Fond National d’Art Contemporain, 2 Sculptures de visées,[78] 1989
  • Musée Paul Delouvrier, Que voit-on quand on ne regarde pas ?[79] 1989
  • Musée de la Loire, Cosne-Cours-sur-Loire: Portrait de la Loire, 1988


  1. ^ French pronunciation: [ʒɑ̃maks albɛʁ].


  1. ^ Dictionnaire du jazz, Sous la direction de Philippe Carles, Jean-Louis Comolli et André Clergeat. Éditions Robert Laffont, coll. "Bouquins", 1994
  2. ^ Cité de la Musique
  3. ^ Musique Française
  4. ^ Michel Cosnil-Lacoste, Cimaises en rase campagne, Le Monde, 7 July 1975
  5. ^ Bruno Suner, Relier ciel et ville, Urbanisme n°219, 1987
  6. ^ Realization for the French Cultural Center in Damascus, Syria, 1986
  7. ^
  8. ^ Miller House Miller House, GA n°35, July 1992. (in English)
  9. ^ Philippe Lalitte, « Rythme et espace chez Varèse », Filigrane [1],
  10. ^ Un entretien entre György Ligeti et Josef Häusler « d’Atmosphères à Lontano», La musique en jeu, Editions du Seuil, 1974
  11. ^ Jedediah Sklower, Free Jazz, la catastrophe féconde, L'Harmattan, Paris, 2006
  12. ^ Michel Ragon, Jean-Max Albert «Iapetus», L’art abstrait vol.5, Éditions Maeght, Paris, 1989
  13. ^
  14. ^
  15. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2016-01-16. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  16. ^ Space in profile/ L'espace de profil,
  17. ^ Intra-and Intercellular Communications in Plants, Millet & Greppin Editors, INRA, Paris, 1980, p.117 (in English)
  18. ^ Musée Paul Delouvrier, Que voit-on quand on ne regarde pas ? 1989
  19. ^ Henri Matisse, ‘’Ecrits et propos sur l’art‘’, Herman, Paris, 1972, p.167
  20. ^ Patricia Albers, Joan Mitchell : Lady Painter, A life, Knof, 2011
  21. ^ Jean-Louis Pradel, Les monuments de treillage de Jean-Max Albert, Opus n°65, 1978
  22. ^ L'ivre de pierre
  23. ^ Hubert Beylier, Bénédicte Leclerc, Treillage de jardin du XIV au XX siècle, Éditions du patrimoine, Paris, 2000, p. 172-173
  24. ^ Jean-Max Albert O=C=O, Franco Torriani, Dalla Land arte alla bioarte, Hopefulmonster editore Torino, 2007, p. 64-70
  25. ^ Jean-Paul Pigeat, Jean-Max Albert et Emilio Ambasz, «Le nymphée et la profondeur», Manuel des jardins de Chaumont, 1996
  26. ^ Wolfgang Becker, Sculpture Nature, Centre d'Arts Plastiques Contemporain, Bordeaux, 1980
  27. ^ Dominique Richir, Tuteurs Fabuleux, Opus n°64, octobre 1976
  28. ^ Bruno Suner, L'art du passage à Saint Nazaire, Urbanisme n°214, 1986
  29. ^ Françoise Very, What Jean-Max Albert’s and Sara Holt’s sculptures show us of architecture = Ce que les sculptures de Jean-Max Albert et Sara Holt donnent à voir de l’architecture In Situ 32 | 2017 : Le collectif à l'œuvre. Collaborations entre architectes et plasticiens (XXe-XXIe siècles)[2]
  30. ^ Jardin-de-la-Treille, wikimapia
  31. ^ Bruno Suner, Les sculptures de visées du Parc de La Villette, Urbanisme n°215, 1986
  32. ^
  33. ^ Matilde Marcolli, The notion of Space in Mathematics through the lens of Modern Art, Century Books, Pasadena, July 2016
  34. ^ François Lamarre, Jean-Max Albert illusionniste éclectique, L’empreinte 27, décembre 1994
  35. ^ Monique Faux, L'art renouvelle la ville, Editions Skira, Paris 1992
  36. ^ Space in profile/ L'espace de profil,
  37. ^ Jean-Max Albert's observation sculptures Sarah Mc Fadden, The Bulletin 24, Bruxelles, June 16th 1994
  38. ^ Bruno Suner, Les sculptures de visées du Parc de la Villette, Urbanisme 215, 1986
  39. ^ Jardin-de-la-Treille, wikimapia
  40. ^ Las Miras del Jardin de la Parra
  41. ^ FRAC Poitou-Charente
  42. ^ Les jardins du parc de la Villette Archived 2014-09-03 at the Wayback Machine
  43. ^ Parc de La Villette (in English)
  44. ^ Fresques et murs-peint parisiens
  45. ^ Monique Faux, L'art renouvelle la ville, Editions Skira, Paris 1992
  46. ^ Musée de la toile de Jouy Archived 2014-08-14 at the Wayback Machine
  47. ^ Musée d’Art Contemporain, Marseille, L'Espace de profil/ Space in Profile [3]
  48. ^ Frédéric Mialet, Exercice sur le vide, D'A n°45, mai 1994
  49. ^ Le nouvel Attila
  50. ^ La lucarne des écrivains
  51. ^ Derry O'Sullivan, Ceamara Jean-Max Albert, An Guth, Dublin, 2008, (in Gaelic)
  52. ^ Derry O'Sullivan, Caemara/Ceamara, Estepa Editions, Paris 2010
  53. ^ "Lotus international"
  54. ^ L'art du jazz Archived 2014-09-03 at the Wayback Machine
  55. ^
  56. ^ Bay area reading, Berkeley University, USA, 2007
  57. ^ Free Jazz Cinéma journées approxinématives, Théâtre de Montreuil, 2007
  58. ^ Clifford Allen, ‘’François Tusques’’ The New York City Jazz Record p10, June 2011 [4](in English)
  59. ^ Projections : La Vitrine, Paris; American Center, Paris ; Global Village, New York ; The Kitchen, New York, 1981. Julie Gustafson, Global Village Program 1981, New York
  60. ^ Dominique Richir, Morgane Amalia, Opus n°77, 1980
  61. ^ Sarah Berges Dance Archived 2014-09-03 at the Wayback Machine
  62. ^ Carole Naggar, Lumen poème, Centre Régional d'Art Contemporain, Rosny-s-Seine, France, 1984
  63. ^ Jean-Louis Pradel, Lumen de Sara Holt et Jean-Max Albert, L'événement du jeudi, 8 novembre 1989
  64. ^ Jean-Louis Pradel, Jean-Max Albert, L’Evénement du jeudi, 17 septembre 1987
  65. ^ France Huser, Jean-Max Albert, Galerie Charles Sablon, Le nouvel observateur, 25 septembre 1987
  66. ^ Anne Dagbert, Jean-Max Albert, Galerie Charles Sablon, Art Press n°119, 1987
  67. ^ Sarah Mc Fadden ‘’Jean-Max Albert «Sculptures»’’, The Bulletin n°24, Bruxelles, June 16th 1994
  68. ^
  69. ^ Un pavillon de treillage à Pau, Biennale de Paris, CCI Centre Georges Pompidou, Éditions Academy, Paris, 1980
  70. ^ Jean-Louis Pradel, Actuele Franse Kunst, International Cultureel Centrum-Antwerpen, 1982
  71. ^ F Reynaert, Inventer 89, Libération, 13 octobre 1987
  72. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2014-10-06. Retrieved 2014-08-27. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)Fragmentations a constructed world
  73. ^ Le musée côté jardin
  74. ^ Dalla Land arte alla bioarte
  75. ^ Tables à Desseins
  76. ^ [Du dessin à la sculpture "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-09-03. Retrieved 2014-08-27. CS1 maint: discouraged parameter (link) CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  77. ^ Centre Pompidou
  78. ^ Fond National d'Art Contemporain
  79. ^ Musée Paul Delouvrier

External links[edit]