Stravinsky Fountain – Paris

This peculiar pond either defaces or beautifies the space in front of the strangely derelict  St Merri
This peculiar pond either defaces or beautifies the space in front of the strangely derelict St Merri

Writing 101 suggests using a quote for today’s prompts. Who more sensible to quote than Salvador Dali?

“Since I don’t smoke, I decided to grow a mustache – it is better for the health.
However, I always carried a jewel-studded cigarette case in which, instead of tobacco, were carefully placed several mustaches, Adolphe Menjou style. I offered them politely to my friends: “Mustache? Mustache? Mustache?” Salvador Dali

More and more these days I seemed to find the world surreal.

The photo is of the Stravinsky Fountain which can be found on the Place Stravinsky between the Centre Pomidou and the ancient church of Saint-Merri.

The sculptures of Jean Tinguely and Niki de Saint Phalle are supposed to be inspired by the works of Stravinsky but I wonder what Stravinsky would have thought of these bizzare objects plonked in a shallow basin of murky water.

According to that repository of all knowledge, Wikipedia, the sculptures in the fountain represent:

  • L’Oiseau de feu (The Firebird)
  • La Clef de Sol (the Musical Key of G)
  • La Spirale (The Spiral)
  • L’Elephant (The Elephant)
  • Le Renard (The Fox)
  • Le Serpent (The Serpent)
  • La Grenouille (The Frog)
  • La Diagonale (The Diagonal)
  • La Mort (Death)
  • La Sirène (The Mermaid)
  • Le Rossignol (The Nightingale)
  • L’Amour (Love)
  • La Vie (Life)
  • Le Cœur (The Heart)
  • Le Chapeau de Clown (The Clown’s Hat)
  • Ragtime (Ragtime)

I can’t say I could match the sculptures to these names. Because it is constructed over rooms below the street, the fountain was designed to be as light as possible, with very shallow water, a bottom of stainless steel, and sculptures composed of plastics and other light materials. It now has a mildewed look.

As you can probably tell, I am not a fan of this weird remnant of 1980’s design ethic. This whole area is one of few uncomfortable areas of central Paris, the modern grating with the ancient and a feel of shabbiness and loitering crowds. Saint-Merri must once have been a beautiful church but seems to be one of the few churches that has been left to go to ruin.

Thankfully beauty is just a block away and we fled to it.


  1. Dali’s quote is not related to this post in the same way names are not related to sculptors–is that right?

    Thanks for sharing this TJ

    Love ❤

    Liked by 2 people

  2. I am heading the Hakone outdoor sculpture museum next week and there is a massive Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture there and am really looking forward to an exhibition of her work coming up in Tokyo. I am taking about 30 kids from school to see it. Enjoyed your post thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. That fountain is pretty hideous, What a shame the church has been allowed to become derelict as looking at what remains, it seemed to have been quite pretty,. The fountain with the filthy water and grotty sculptures seems to cheapen the whole area.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I remember the first time I saw the fountain in the summer of 1984 when I was only 19 passing through on my way to a creative writing course in Antibes offered through the community college I was attending. As are a lot 19 year old “artists,” I was at the same time both pretentious and self-doubting of my sense of aesthetics. I didn’t know the fountain had just been completed the year before or anything else about it. Running with a pack of students on the loose and in a state of awe over everything Paris, I only gave the fountain a few minutes gaze as my pack dashed towards Centre Pomidou. At the time I was more than a little unimpressed. A creation that looked like it was slap-dashed together by someone attempting to be oh-so post-modern for the first time in their life. I wouldn’t have been surprised had someone told me it was created by a 5th grade classroom as part of some art project.

    Although the word “defaces” did not pop into my head, something to that effect rumbled through my mind for the brief moment I engaged the fountain as a work of art. It was more than a lack of artistic resonance. As far as I was concerned, the fountain was gaudy. I suppose it would be a truism that the consequence of dropping something gaudy into the terrain amounts to defacing it.

    Yet I would not have dared to express my opinion regarding the fountain. Who was I compared to those who had allowed this project to be completed. They definitely had a greater understanding of what constituted great art than some 19 year old from an American community college. So this has been a long way of saying that it is nice to have someone vindicate that 19 year old, or it all being subjective, to at least know he is not alone.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am so glad it was not just me too. What a wonderful experience for a nineteen year old. Thanks so much for sharing your experience. I’m in awe of your writing. ☺

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Would not have considered this ever to be Paris! This looks like something my fellow American’s would do! (Said with lightheartedness and no disrespect.)
    Is quite a departure form your usual, but actually I am glad you have included it!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. So glad you enjoyed it. The whole Pompidou Centre area is so “modern ” it just doesn’t fit with what Paris means to most people. Give me the Belle Epoque any day. ☺

      Liked by 1 person

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