The architect Claude Parent, a prominent figure of the 1960s & 1970s French avant-garde has died age 93. He was most recetly featured at the Liverpool Biennial at the Tate. Parent’s radical intervention transformed the Wolfson Gallery with slanted floors and ramps, providing the audience with an exciting opportunity to experience the museum anew as a gathering space in which to view a variety of work from Tate’s collection. The artworks on display, included pieces by Edward Wadsworth, Gustav Metzger, Francis Picabia and Gillian Wise, among others, chosen to complement Parent’s passion for challenging conformity.
Parent was born in 1923 and was an important figure in the field of architecture; a member of the Académie des Beaux-Arts, once a student of Le Corbusier, he was the practician and theoretician of the “oblique function”, which he formulated with the philosopher Paul Virilio. For allhis career, he engaged in re-thinking and actually changing the way humans live – by creating unbalance, and thereby making them aware of their own being.
The author of a limited but extremely influential built work – from the maison Drusch to the church of Sainte-Bernadette in Nevers and to the shopping centre at Sens -, he has also contributed through his writings to define the activity of being an architect, and through his drawings devoted to the movements of populations, to the structures of our world, to expand reflection on the future of human life on earth.
Being considered a “utopian” architect, the methodology he shaped has played a great role for his peers of all generations and for contemporary artists and thinkers – notably Jean Nouvel, who started his professional life as a collaborator to Claude Parent.
Claude Parent’s intellectual, artistic and architectural oeuvre has been celebrated on numerous occasions, such as a retrospective at the Cité de l’Architecture in 2010, at the Tate Liverpool in 2014; at the Venice Biennale, in the same year, where he was invited by Rem Koolhaas; at the Galerie Azzedine Alaïa, from January 14th to February 28th, which placed him in dialogue with Jean Nouvel on the issue of museums. The promises he offers remain largely to be explored.