Marta Pan,
modernity at work

Trained at the Academy of Arts in Budapest, Marta Pan moved to Paris in 1947. She was 24 years old. She was inspired by plants (onions, shells, roots) whose joints she drew in increasingly close planes, with great sensuality. She transposed these figures, brought to the limits of abstraction, into chamotte clay and, for some of them, into ceramic.

Marta Pan, 1966, at the Salon des Jeunes Galeries in Lausanne during the temporary installation of a floating sculpture / Collection Fondation Marta Pan – André Wogenscky / Credits : Marcel Ismand

Between dynamism and balance

Towards abstraction

In 1954, Marta Pan tried her hand at woodcarving in the workshops of Charles Barberis, the carpenter established in Corsica who, among other things, made the woodwork for the glass panels of the housing units that André Wogenscky built with Le Corbusier.

With an astonishing mastery, Marta Pan approaches simultaneously three types of abstract forms. Some of them, of simple appearance, strike by the dynamism that emerges from them. Such is the case of « L’ébène » arranged above the interior basin of the Fondation.

L’Ébène / Collection Fondation Marta Pan – André Wogenscky / ©Antoine de Cordoue

Dancing inspiration

Others are articulated, like « Teck », a large sculpture whose two elements unfold around a hinge. Maurice Béjart made this work the central element of the ballet he created in 1959 on the roof of the Unité d’Habitation in Marseille during the first Festival de l’Art d’Avant-Garde.

Wood and plants: The roots of her inspiration

Other sculptures, such as « Balance en deux » or « Obero », preserve the characteristics of Marta Pan’s initial attraction to plants: they are marked by an invisible point of balance, on which two elements of different shape and mass pivot.

Balance en deux / 1957 / Walnut / 20,5 x 53 x 43 cm / Collection Fondation Marta Pan – André Wogenscky / ©DR.

Their originality attracts the attention of the curator of the Kroller-Muller museum who commissions Marta Pan to create her first floating sculpture, « Otterlo », whose realization mobilizes about thirty people, engineers, industrialists and workers…

The series: An exploration of shape and material

Marta Pan is also renowned for the series of puzzles, executed in wood, and the series of plexiglas where, within round, cylindrical or lenticular forms, imperceptible micro universes are surreptitiously installed, sometimes appearing like aquatic animals. The art critic Michel Ragon will devote a book to this fascinating series of a hundred works.

« Lentille 180 » , plexiglas and mercury, 6 x Ø 18 cm, 1970 / Collection Fondation Marta Pan – André Wogenscky / ©DR.

A close association with architecture

Marta Pan then modifies her approach, distancing herself from direct carving: she imagines, draws, transposes her creation into precise plans and has her works made in a factory, with the utmost precision and according to a high degree of requirement. She thus prolongs the process of realization of Otterlo.

Marta Pan in 1969, in front of the «Sculpture 110» temporarily installed in the garden of the villa of Saint-Rémy-lès-Chevreuse, current collection of the City of Paris

Quickly, her relationship with architecture led her to approach works of large dimensions

Marta Pan in 1993 in front of Duna, granite sculpture installed in the garden of the Grenoble Museum of Fine Arts / Collection Marta Pan – André Wogenscky Foundation, current collection city of Grenoble

Interventions in the public space, an international influence

Marta Pan achieved several artworks in the public space: at the Saint-Antoine hospital in Paris, at the Ministry of Defense in Beirut, at the Necker hospital in Paris, The floating sculptures: an exploration of the elements

Her ability to arrange the sculptures in space is expressed in an even more powerful way in the parks (Bobigny, Kerguehennec, Otterlo, Duisburg, Dallas, Hakanone…) where her floating sculptures are exhibited

Many times exhibited in the greatest museums, her work and her presence in Japan are crowned by the prestigious Premium Imperial prize.

She died in 2008, after having designed multiple models of the « Portes » series.

University Hospital Center of the Saint-Antoine Hospital in Paris, 1965 ©Gérard Ifert

Biographie of André Wogenscky