"The Ice Giants"
from 10 April to 6 October 2024

Michel BASSOMPIERRE expose ses sculptures
monumental works at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco

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  • Exhibition: The Ice Giants by MICHEL BASSOMPIERRE

Polar bears and emperor penguins are the stars of Michel BASSOMPIERRE’s new exhibition Les Géants des Glaces. By highlighting these species, the Oceanographic Institute and the artist, in collaboration with Galeries Bartoux, hope to move visitors and raise their awareness of the major issues facing the polar regions. This temporary exhibition is part of the polar programme supported by the Oceanographic Institute since 2022.

A sculptor of the living, Michel BASSOMPIERRE gets rid of the anecdotal to focus on the essential. Through his singular and innovative work, recognisable at first glance, the artist becomes the storyteller of a bewitching animal world.

Seven monumental works by Michel BASSOMPIERRE, one of the most important artists in the field of contemporary animal sculpture, will take over the Oceanographic Museum and its roof terrace. To mark the occasion, the sculptor will be unveiling five new creations, made especially for this exhibition: four polar bears and a 3-metre-high emperor penguin.

Original drawings and sketches will also be on display in the Conference Room, accompanied by the continuous projection of a film showing the artist’s work in the intimacy of his studio.

There will also be a lecture combining art and science. While Michel BASSOMPIERRE creates a live work, specialists from the poles will invite the public to reflect on their relationship with life and nature.

An appeal to preserve polar biodiversity

In this exhibition, the colossi are emblematic representatives of polar fauna, which is vulnerable and threatened by climate change. climate. If the bear polar see shrink the ice pack emperor penguins, in search of food for their offspring, are forced to go further and further out in search of food. emperor penguins, in search of food for their offspring, are forced to go further and further out in search of food.

Michel BASSOMPIERRE’s gentle yet reassuring depiction of animals is an ode to wildlife.

“These fragile behemoths inspire wonder, but also question and challenge visitors about the extreme vulnerability of these species. These works bring the public face to face with the current challenges of protecting biodiversity and contribute to our historic mission of making the Ocean known, loved and protected”. adds Robert Calcagno, Director General of the Oceanographic Institute.

7 monumental works
5 of which are new to the Oceanographic Museum


It is very rare in Michel BASSOMPIERRE’s bestiary to present two animals on the same sculpture: an adult accompanied by a juvenile. This has only happened twice so far. L’Empereur, a work specially created for the ‘Les Géants des Glaces’ exhibition at the Oceanographic Museum in Monaco, is one of these two creations. The design of this new sculpture required considerable work on the part of the artist, who meticulously studied the morphology, skeleton, muscles and attitudes of this new animal.

“There are four of us in my head: the animal artist (who observes and understands his subject and its behaviour), the anatomist (who grasps the structure of the body), the draughtsman (who masters the line to reproduce movement) and the sculptor (who transcribes into volume). But in the end, it’s always the sculptor who decides”, says Michel BASSOMPIERRE.


For a long time, Michel BASSOMPIERRE refrained from working on these animals for fear of being compared to his illustrious predecessor François POMPON, even though the latter sculpted only one. It was meeting Rémy MARION, a photographer specialising in the polar bear, that finally convinced him to commit to this approach. The latter provided him with many hours of footage of polar bears in the field, enabling the artist to develop an in-depth understanding of the animal, which turns out to be very different from the brown bear.


the sculptor of animal softness

Born in Paris in 1948, Michel BASSOMPIERRE is one of the most important artists in the field of contemporary animal sculpture.de la douceur animale He has infused this discipline with a unique and fresh style that is instantly recognisable. Seductive and engaging, his work has travelled the world, sending his bestiary of marble and bronze to the four corners of the globe.
Trained at the Rouen School of Fine Arts, Michel BASSOMPIERRE learns to look. Through the thousands of sketches he produced, he built up his understanding of the animal body, a skilfully articulated machine whose lines and movements he captured.

Following in the footsteps of François POMPON, Michel BASSOMPIERRE gets rid of the anecdotal to focus on the essential: a pure form, delicate curves, enveloping light that emphasises the roundness of the masses from which tenderness and poetry emanate. Favouring animals with round shapes – bears, gorillas, Asian elephants, horses and pandas – he achieves a form that is both soft and precise, where light never clashes with shadow. This plastic relationship reflects his connection with the wild world. With perfectly mastered anatomy and drawing, his work shows an animality that is no longer hostile but peaceful and benevolent.

For him, animals are neither strangers nor accessories. For him, animals are neither strangers nor accessories. There’s no anthropomorphism in his work, no menacing or roaring beasts. The animal is there, for what it is, in complete tranquillity, magnetic and masterful.

Michel BASSOMPIERRE has created a powerful body of work that demonstrates an exceptional mastery of drawing, a perfect understanding of volumes and a poetic approach to light that makes visitors want to caress it. But it is also the artist’s tenderness, respect and humility that shine through in this work of rare delicacy.