• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2806

    Twentieth Century Art

    2 December 2008, Amsterdam

  • Lot 160

    Constant (Dutch, 1920-2005)

    Nébulose Mécanique

    Price Realised  


    Constant (Dutch, 1920-2005)
    Nébulose Mécanique
    signed and dated 'Constant 1958' (on the plexiglass disc)
    stainless steel wire, plexiglass and aluminium
    36 x 43 x 15 cm. (excl. the wooden base)

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    During a stay in 1956 in Alba, Italy, while visiting his friend and colleague Pinot Gallizio, Constant came in to contact with a group of gypsies. The gypsies were forced by the local authorities to weekly break up their improvised village of wooden planks and cloth to make place for the market, and rebuild it somewhere else. This process brought Constant to his famous idea of New Babylon, a project he would work on without interruption the following 20 years. New Babylon represents the concept of a Situationist city, a vast network of enormous multi level interior spaces which propagates to eventually cover the entire planet. Every aspect of the environment in New Babylon can be controlled and reconfigured spontaneously by the people living in it. Constant always saw New Babylon as a realizable project, which provoked intense debates and polemics about the future role of the architect.
    The part of the New Babylon oeuvre that consists of scale-models, shows us a fantastic and complex world, produced in metals and synthetics. It suggests a poetic though technical world, full of change and surprises, like the present lot Nébulose Mécanique. It is a mysterious, closed and yet transparent skeleton-like construction, and is part of the labyrinth responsible for repeatedly new discoveries. Although more than 50 years old now, this labyrinth, New Babylon, never lost its necessity and remains a timeless monument during uncertain times.

    Special Notice

    Christie’s charges a premium to the buyer on the Hammer Price of each lot sold at the following rates: 29.75% of the Hammer Price of each lot up to and including €20,000, plus 23.8% of the Hammer Price between €20,001 and €800.000, plus 14.28% of any amount in excess of €800.000. Buyer’s premium is calculated on the basis of each lot individually.


    Acquired directly from the artist by the present owner.

    Pre-Lot Text



    Rotterdam, Witte de With, center for contemporary art, Constant - New Babylon. The Hyper-Architecture of Desire, 21 November 1998 - 11 January 1999