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Green Soul #6 – Plastic arts. What is “ecological” art?

The Foundation offers a series of lectures entitled Green Soul, L’anthropocène, cultures, imaginaires, conceived and led by art historian and curator Paul Ardenne. This series of 8 lectures, conceived as a whole, aims to provide the most complete picture of the anthropocenic “spirit of the times”, prodigal of the “Green Soul”.


#6 – The plastic arts. What is “ecological” art? Painting, sculpture, installation, video, between lament, celebration, activism and degrowth.


The aim of this meeting is to define what is becoming of creation in the Anthropocene era. How are the visual arts reacting to the increasing pollution, the collapse of biodiversity, global warming and the depletion of resources that make the headlines every day? How does the visual arts world respond to the challenge of decarbonisation, with what discourse, what resources and what credibility? Ethics, more than ever, are the order of the day, against the destructive fury of the global economy.

In parallel with the change in mentality that is underway, we need to assess the artistic potential of the ecological commitment that ‘visual’ artists are making, between aesthetics, ethics and environmental combat, using conventional creation or contextual art that has been declared ‘useful’. The time seems to have come for a radical change in the way things are done and in the methods used.


Paul Ardenne has a degree in History and a doctorate in Arts and Art Sciences. He is a contributor to the journals Art press, Archistorm and INTER-Art actuel, and is the author of several books: Art, l’âge contemporain (1997), L’Art dans son moment politique (2000), L’Image Corps (2001), Un Art contextuel (2002), Art, le présent (2009), Un Art écologique. Création plasticienne et anthropocène (2018), L’Art en joie. Aesthetics of joyful humanity (2023). He is also a novelist and specialist in architecture (Terre Habitée, 2005; La Bonne ville, 2019; Le Boost et le frein – Comment l’humain bâtit au 21e siècle?, 2021…).

As a curator of contemporary art, Paul Ardenne has designed numerous exhibitions, the most recent of which are “Dendromorphies. Creating with trees” (Paris, 2016), “Courants verts. Creating for the environment” (Paris, 2019) and “L’anthropocène et après” (Saint-Denis de la Réunion, 2020). He has produced several programmes on France Culture devoted to art in the age of the Anthropocene (“L’art est l’environnement“, January 2023) and is a regular contributor to the series of programmes The World in Images, on the ARTE television channel.


In partnership with ESA Saint-Luc Bruxelles School, Master in Social Innovation Design.