The Stravinsky fountain is undoubtedly the wackiest of all the fountains in Paris. The modern kinetic sculptures of the fountain, created by Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle always attract plenty of onlookers.
The Stravinsky Fountain was one of the first modern fountains in Paris. In 1983 it was installed at the Place Igor Stravinsky, right near the equally modern and eye-catching Centre Pompidou. It seems fitting that such a modern fountain is located near the most famous modern museum in Paris. Thanks to its colorful and moving sculptures, the fountain quickly became a popular sight in its own right.
The fascinating fountain was designed by Jean Tinguely, a Swiss sculptor who created it together with his French partner Niki de Saint Phalle. The fountain is an homage to the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, whose music provided the inspiration for the sixteen moving and water-spouting sculptures that are placed in a large rectangular basin. The fountain was originally named Le Sacre du Printemps (Rite of Passage), after one of Stravinsky’s most famous compositions. The modern offices of the IRCAM, a center for musical research, are located right near the fountain, so it made sense to create a fountain based on a musical theme.
Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle were both artists of the so-called Nouveau Réalisme (New Realism) movement, but their works couldn’t be more different. Tinguely’s sculptures are made of steel and aluminum and painted black. His objects look almost like machines. In contrast, Saint Phalle’s works are created from fiberglass and polyester; they are bright and colorfully painted. Her works seem to come from a merry fantasy world. Many of the sculptures represent animals, such as a snake, a fox and an elephant, while others symbolize concepts such as love (huge lips) or music (the G-clef).
Tinguely was responsible for the electrical motors that animate the kinetic sculptures, which add to the fountain’s attraction. The Stravinsky fountain is especially popular with children who are intrigued by the bright colors and constant movement of the almost comical figures.