Aluminium as a Material for Creativity

From the 19th to the 21st Century

International Conference

Musée des Arts décoratifs, AUDITORIUM 101 rue de Rivoli, Paris

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11th and 12th December 2014

The admission is free, but space is limited. Registration is required :

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A product of the second phase of industrialization, cast as a symbol of progress in science then subsequently of ‘modernity’, aluminium has assumed a diversity of guises across the centuries of its use. It has been vaunted by some (designers, artisans and artists) as a malleable metal of high value in the domains of science, technology and sport. It has, meanwhile, been accorded in other domains of the social world a more lowly status, the banal and every day being somewhat less feted.

For the last conference of the ‘ANR Créalu’, the goal is to shed light, via an interdisciplinary approach, on the creative processes harnessed in maximizing the potentiality of the new material since its discovery and invention during the mid 19th century. This will involve tracing the evolution of an industrial sector from its beginnings in the bauxite mines to the production of everyday objects, the presentation and usage of both commonplace and high end consumer products, and the appropriation of the material by societies within the wider context of globalization.

The conference will be held in French and English.


For the final conference held within the framework of the research programme Créalu, the focus will be on the processes involved in the creation, the moulding of perception, and the patrimonializing of aluminium through a comparative approach towards materials:

  • By taking a historical perspective on regions such as Asia or Eastern Europe in which aluminium, although strongly present, has been thus far little studied, identifying key political and economic turning points and their repercussions;

  • By identifying the creative activities employed within research and development laboratories, industrial corporations, engineering and design firms, and indeed at all levels of the industrial process, viewed in parallel with organizational and financial innovations;

  • By enquiring into additional uses and functions of the material, particularly in the societal, spiritual and ritual domains (such as in the practices of religious cults), in terms of design, interior decoration and religious art;

  • By examining the procedures employed by local, national and international institutions involved in shaping the public perception of aluminium: that is to say, museums of science and technology, design, architecture, decorative arts, art, popular traditions and so on. How has the history of aluminium been portrayed in exhibitions and collections and what is the place of aluminium in the history of public collections in general? How, more particularly, has the thematic of material been addressed in museums of science and technology? 



Photo CreditsGérard BENOIT À LA GUILLAUME (all rights reserved)

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Heading : Bidons Sans Frontières ©, France, Haut-Jura, January 2013.

Background : Bidons Sans Frontières ©, Morocco, Lake Iriki, December 2009.

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