Empress of India II, 2005
  • © Adagp - Fondation Louis Vuitton / Marc Domage

A year before his transposition of a piece by the American painter Mark Rothko ("Four Darks in Red", 2004) into film, Bertrand Lavier began a "chantier" (literally, “building site”), as he calls his series, based on the works of another major figure in American painting, Frank Stella.

Lavier transposed Stella’s iconic Notched V series of stripe paintings, begun in 1964, into coloured neon. Empress of India II (2005) is the illuminated version of the eponymous work by Frank Stella from 1967 (kept at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco). Here, Lavier’s appropriation of the painting does not involve superimposition but rather the transposition of one material to another, provoking a short circuit as violent as the neon glare that neutralises the original piece. While Stella remains a presence, Lavier’s pop-art approach breathes new vitality into the work by appropriating visual techniques from the world of urban advertising.