Constant, New Babylon, 1963 Collection Frac Centre-Val de Loire
Constant, who trained as a painter, founded in 1948 the international movement COBRA with several European dissident surrealists, and advocated free, spontaneous and joyful art that reconnected with the universal through research on archetypal forms. At the beginning of the 1950s, Constant began thinking about urban reality, calling for a movement towards nomadism and the generalization of playful behavior. He dedicated himself for eighteen years exclusively to New Babylon, a radical illustration of “situationist unitary urbanism”. New Babylon is an “artificial environment,” technological architecture of networks based on nomadism, games and creative change. This city was to take the form of labyrinthine space where movements were no longer subject to the constraint of any spatial or temporal organization. The transformation of architecture would be through the movement of individuals; mobility would be that of migration. For Constant, “the labyrinthine form of the New Babylonian social space would be the direct expression of social independence.” Creation would become a permanent process, a daily activity: “Like the painter who creates an infinite variety of forms, contrasts and styles utilizing only a few colors, New Babylonians would be able to endlessly vary their environment, refresh it, recreate it, by making use of the instruments of technology.” (Constant)
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