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Tacky And Terrific: A Building Shaped Like An Impaled Head

With the help of Lithuanian architect Rytis Daukantas, the French artist Sasha Sosno transforms a sculpture into a full-scale gallery.

Sasha Sosno has built an artistic career by “obliterating” art. The French New Realist has sliced up a bronze bust and reassembled it with slabs of stone separating each piece. The result: Venus Sandwich. His next project: obliterating architecture by re-creating one of his sculptures as a full-scale, operational building. Modeled on his La Paille dans l’oeil du voisin, the Sosno art gallery planned for Nice, France, will take the bizarre form of a 72-foot-high massive bust impaled at an angle by a four-story structure.

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Sosno hatched the idea of habitable sculpture back in the ’80s, along with the late architect Yves Bayard, who built a library in Nice called La Tête Carré, “Square Head.” (It looks exactly as it sounds.) The new building, designed by the Lithuanian architect Rytis Daukantas, is more ambitious, requiring a support structure in the bust to balance the slanted, cantilevered volume. When completed, it will have six unique floor plates and nearly 6,500 square feet of programming, including four levels of gallery space, a gift shop, a multimedia room, and a small conference hall–all of which will be accessible by a stairwell and elevator in the main vertical circulation path.

“The major challenge,” Daukantas tells Co.Design, “was to create construction which would successfully resist the power of winds.” The core is a vertical steel skeleton (concealed within the head and shoulders), which stabilizes the cantilevered wings. The intersecting volume is clad in glass and wooden louvers, to approximate the look of the wooden plank in Sosno’s original piece.

As one might expect, public response has been mixed: “Some love it, some hate it,” says Daukantas. But, he says, the collaboration has been a personal lesson in New Realism: “Having met Sosno, I enhanced the understanding of art. The idea of obliteration breaks the rules and unlocks the imagination in architecture.”

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About the author

A former editor at such publications as WIRED, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Fast Company, Belinda Lanks has also written for The New York Times Magazine, The New York Observer, Interior Design, and ARTnews.

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