Artist Alexandre Benjamin Navet has transformed New York’s 5th Avenue into an immersive floral sketchbook

On a morning earlier this month, French artist Alexandre Benjamin Navet smiled broadly as he strolled down New York’s 5th Avenue throughout his latest work.

“It’s really moving to see all these beautiful people taking pictures and enjoying it,” he said. “You don’t know what to expect when you start this kind of project. It’s amazing to see all the interactions and the joy on everyone’s faces.

Navet has the preppy style of a native Parisian. He wore a blue blazer and his skinny, fitted gray jeans matched his ubiquitous cap. He sat at an outside table in a plaza. Ahead of him, a group of tourists posed next to a giant sculpture of a vase of flowers surrounded by freshly planted pink, yellow and red begonias.

It was part of the 36-year-old’s immersion Fifth Avenue is blooming facility, traveling the busy 57th to 49th Street thoroughfare throughout May.

“The idea was to go through a giant sketchbook,” Navet said of his takeover of 5th Avenue, which transformed the 12 blocks into a veritable canvas for the colorful sculptures of vases and large arches of the artist. It even includes a beer garden.

Each piece is adorned with living flowers. As they grow, the appearance of the sculptures also changes. “It’s all about spring and creating surprises in the city,” Navet said.

One of Turnip’s generous bouquets. Courtesy of Van Cleef & Arpels.

Each project begins with Navet’s hand sketches. His work is defined by a sense of naïveté, a childlike utopia of Crayola scribbles that is balanced by a keen sense of scale, proportion and adult perspective. His style is quite distinctive, flourishing on this dichotomy that embraces his two sides.

The project was carried out in collaboration with the non-profit association Fifth Avenue and Van Cleef & Arpels. The installation’s design elements are woven into 56 of the luxury jeweler’s boutiques around the world (including its 5th Avenue flagship, which serves as the anchor for the 57th Street exhibit) and eight of its pop-up stores.

Navet has been working with Van Cleef & Arpels for some time. In 2017, he won the Grand Prix of the Design Parade of Toulon, sponsored by the brand, and in 2020, he designed the windows of his stores. “His aesthetic and positive attitude fits perfectly with the Maison,” said Helen King, President and CEO of Van Cleef & Arpels Americas.

Navet’s style is well-suited to art projects that bridge the commercial and public realms – it’s high and classy, ​​yet casual observers can easily connect with its work. It’s also perfect Instagram fodder.

He is also at ease in the spheres of traditional art. The French Embassy commissioned a series of landscape paintings by Navet, which are currently on display at the French Institute in London.

And he will have a personal exhibition, “Jardin”, which will open at the Galerie Deroullion in Paris on June 26. “I’m actually going to do something really different with my vocabulary,” he says. “It’s going to be a discovery.”

Alexandre Benjamin Navet, <em>Brussels Window (I)</em>2022. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Derouillon, Paris.” width=”772″ height=”895″ srcset=” 06.jpg 772w,×300.jpg 259w, 2022/05/Derouillon-06-43×50.jpg 43w” sizes=”(max-width: 772px) 100vw, 772px”/></p>
<p class=Alexandre Benjamin Navet, Brussels Window (I)2022. Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Derouillon, Paris.

Before embarking on art, Navet studied industrial design at ENSCI-Les Ateliers in Paris. He graduated in 2011, but was not satisfied.

“I realized there was something missing in my life,” he said. “It was color.” He zealously makes up for lost time.

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