Handling monumental painted canvas: Olivier Debré’s stage curtain reinstallation at the Comédie Française

3 September 2023
Manutention du rideau de scène d'Olivier Debré à la Comédie Française

Monumental painted canvas handling in Paris: Bovis Fine Art undertakes the reinstallation of Olivier Debré’s stage curtain at the Comédie Française.

The reinstallation of an iconic artwork like Olivier Debré’s stage curtain at the Comédie Française posed a significant logistical challenge for Bovis Fine Art. Let’s delve into the various phases of this monumental artistic project.

Preliminary phase: rigorous preparation and meticulous coordination

Before diving into action, a team of Bovis Fine Art specialists visited the Comédie Française for a preliminary study. This crucial phase initiated the project, identified specific needs, and coordinated forthcoming steps. Detailed methodologies and handling plans laid the groundwork for a flawless execution.

1st phase: from CNAP to Tours, impeccable logistics

Removing the curtain from the Centre National des Arts Plastiques (CNAP) reserves at the north of Paris required a climate-controlled semi-truck for optimal conditions. Our team then delivered the artwork to an art restoration workshop in Tours in Loire Valley, west of France.

2nd phase: secure storage and impeccable delivery

After restoration, the curtain was loaded and transported to a secure Bovis Fine Art warehouse south of Paris, ensuring temporary storage under high security. The final delivery to the Comédie Française was then orchestrated with exceptional precision.

Overcoming challenges: authorizations, delicate handling, and precautions

The project was not without challenges. Obtaining necessary authorizations for handling on Place Colette in Paris required close coordination. The delicate nature of the roll demanded specific maneuvers to prevent any damage to the curtain.

Delicate handling at the Comédie Française: a ballet of expertise

Handling outside and inside the Comédie Française was the climax of the project. Access difficulties demanded creative solutions, including the use of a crane truck and articulated lift to introduce the roll. The key moment was the presentation of the unrolled curtain, followed by its lifting by the Comédie Française’s stage cincture.

Delicate handling with facade craning

Delicate handling to introduce the roll into the Comédie Française posed a complex logistical challenge, showcasing the exceptional mastery of the Bovis Fine Art team. Faced with significant access difficulties requiring an ingenious approach, the team deployed a crane truck for a lift via the theater’s facade, followed by a delicate passage through a ramp inside the theater.

Craning the roll through the Comédie Française’s facade was orchestrated with remarkable precision, ensuring the safety and integrity of the artwork throughout this crucial stage. Delicate handling reached its peak with the roll’s passage through a window, orchestrated with a crane truck and articulated lift. This sequence of complex maneuvers demonstrates Bovis Fine Art’s ingenuity in the face of unique logistical challenges posed by the architectural specifics of the Comédie Française. The team adeptly navigated challenging conditions, ensuring the success of Olivier Debré’s work’s introduction to this iconic venue.

Bovis Fine Art’s teams then handled the roll containing the curtain inside the theater, up to the stage. We notably installed a ramp to eliminate a flight of stairs inside the Comédie Française.

Backstage brilliance: the magic of handling the curtain onstage

The key moment of handling inside the Comédie Française was a choreographed sequence with remarkable precision for the unrolling and installation of the curtain.

Initially, to facilitate handling, Olivier Debré’s curtain was rolled on its short side, reducing the roll’s size for manipulation both outside and inside the theater.

However, during installation, our team had to follow a series of sophisticated steps. First, the curtain was unrolled on its short side onto a protective support made of Polyane and Tyvek, ensuring delicate handling and preserving the delicate restoration. Then, the roll was cleverly adapted by adding two extensions of 1 meter each, allowing for subsequent winding of the curtain on its long side. This modified roll underwent a subtle quarter-turn handling to be unrolled again, still on the Polyane and Tyvek protective support.

Once unrolled in its direction, the stage curtain was skillfully lifted by the Comédie Française’s cincture. Our teams then handled and transported the now-empty roll to the reserves of CNAP at the north of Paris.

Exceptional handling in a pinnacle of French culture

This complex series of steps attests to Bovis Fine Art’s unmatched expertise in delicately handling exceptionally valuable artworks. Our teams successfully tackled logistical and technical challenges, once again demonstrating our expertise in transporting exceptional artworks.

Watch the CNAP video: Olivier Debré, a look back at the restoration of the stage curtain at the Comédie-Française in 2023:

Olivier Debré’s stage curtain at the Comédie Française: an exceptional work of art

The stage curtain at the Comédie Française, an iconic piece signed by renowned French artist Olivier Debré, is more than a mere embellishment for the prestigious theater. Painted with a vibrant palette and unique expressiveness, the curtain embodies the perfect marriage of abstract art and theatrical function. Olivier Debré, in creating this majestic piece, captured the energy and essence of the world of performance. With its imposing dimensions and bold color play, the artwork provides a breathtaking backdrop for performances that come to life under the spotlights of the Comédie Française. Each brushstroke seems to tell a story, evoking the spirit of the theater and merging visual art with dramatic art in an unforgettable way.

Olivier Debré: master of abstraction and color

Olivier Debré (1920-1999) is a French painter who holds a prominent place in the world of contemporary art. A pioneer of lyrical abstraction, Debré was known for his unique mastery of color and his intuitive approach to artistic creation. Inspired by landscapes, emotions, and movements, Debré created a vibrant pictorial language characterized by broad gestures and a generous palette. A member of the famous Debré family, he left an indelible legacy with his works exhibited in the world’s leading museums. His stage curtain at the Comédie Française, with its fusion of abstract forms and vibrant colors, testifies to Debré’s artistic genius and his commitment to transcending the boundaries between visual art and theatrical stagecraft.

Transport et manutention du rideau de scène de la Comédie Française à Paris