22 Mar 2023 - 10 Sep 2023

In the air, the flying machines

Hangar Y


Hangar Y’s inaugural exhibition, In the air, the flying machines, is organised by Art Explora on Hangar Y’s invitation, as part of its patronage programme. The exhibition pays tribute to Hangar Y’s initial function, offering an in-depth exploration of the history of flying machines.

Given humankind’s universal fascination for flight and the numerous inventions that made it possible to aspire to that goal throughout the 20th century, the exhibition’s curator, Marie-Laure Bernadac, in collaboration with Art Explora’s artistic director Blanche de Lestrange, focused on how these machines for elevating and transporting people in the air, as well as their transformations over time, have inspired artists.

Although the origins of these innovations can be traced as far back as the Renaissance in Leonardo de Vinci’s sketches, the advent of the first flying machines in the 19th century inspired the artistic avant-garde of the early 20th century as well as many contemporary and art brut artists.

The exhibition brings together more than sixty works covering a variety of artistic movements over a large part of the 20th century. Borrowing aviation pioneer Alberto Santos-Dumont’s book title (Dans l’air, 1904), the exhibition presents a selection of poetic paintings, installations, monumental sculptures that play on repurposing machines, contemplative or political videos, photographs and scale models.

The exhibition presents 20th century artists and inventors like André-Victor Édouard Devambez, Léon Spilliaert or Gustav Mesmer, alongside major figures of international artistic creation such as Adel Abdessemed, Doug Aitken, Fiona Banner, Alighiero Boetti, Mircea Cantor, Ali Cherri, Sylvie Fleury, Joana Hadjithomas and Khalil Joreige, Sophie Jung, Robert Longo, Ahmet Öğüt, Laure Prouvost, Shimabuku ou Roman Signer, not to mention iconic artists of art brut like André Robillard. An immersive and inclusive journey highlights their shared interest in the history, technology, form and aesthetics, function and symbolism of these flying objects.

In the same mindset as the works of art, the exhibition also showcases unique objects and fascinating collections related to flying objects: planes, airships and spare parts, connected with the era of ‘Ballonmania’ at the turn of the 19th century, wind tunnel models, collections from France’s National Air and Space Museum and stock images… to pay tribute to the history of Hangar Y, a landmark building for aerostats.

Press release from Hangar Y