19 May 2021
23 Aug 2021



If the dream of flying has accompanied man since Icarus, it is really with the idea of an inflatable sheath, taking the place of the deployment of wings, that it became effective starting from the 18th century. The history of inflatables, parallel with that of aeronautics, is that of the development of a more organic relationship to the aerial. The sheath is a metaphor for the skin, a protection for the body, enabling an immediate proximity with the air. The inflatable carries within itself the idea of the pneuma of breathing; an immediate relationship to the living, to the event, to life.


The exhibition reveals this human dimension of the «pneumatic», from the first industrial and military exploitations (airships, weather balloons, floating assemblies, inflatable decoys...) to the experiences developed by numerous artists designers and architects.


In the middle of the 20th century the appearance of new materials (rubber and derivatives, plastics, woven fishnet...) multiplied the possible uses and practical applications of inflatable structures.


In keeping with the "achieved utopia" by Richard Buckminster Fuller, numerous architects gave inflatables an architectonic credibility, such as Victor Lundy, Walter Bird, Frei Otto, Gernot Minke, Cedric Price and Arthur Quarmby. In May 1967, a symposium on the subject created a stir in Stuttgart and would constitute the reference for the collectives in search of mobile and modular architecture like Archigram, Ant Farm, Eventstructure Research Group, thus for artist the world over such as Graham Stevens or Panamarenko, architects (Jean Aubert, Jean-Paul Jungmann, Antoine Stinco, Hans Walter Muller, Johanne et Gernot Nalbach or Günther Domenig and Eilfried Huth). But it was through a a few mythical exhibitions that the inflatable would find an international echo and a public image, notably the exhibition at the Musée d’art moderne of the City of Paris in 1968, and the pavilions of the Universal Exhibition in Osaka in 1970 (of which those of Yutaka Murata) and finally Documenta V in 1972 in Kassel where artists and architects such as Christo, Hans Hollein, Haus-Rucker-Co, Coop Himmelb(l)take over public spaces with their works.

General information


1, parvis des Droits-de-l’Homme

57000 Metz

+33 (0)3 87 15 39 39




Frédéric Migayrou, directeur adjoint au Musée national d’art moderne – Centre de création industrielle, Centre Pompidou
Valentina Moimas, conservatrice au service Architecture au Musée national d’art moderne – Centre de création industrielle, Centre Pompidou.


Francesca Sabatini
06 07 09 67 19