Tags: art, grand palais, monumenta, paris, promenade, richard serra, scultpture
There is a moment upon entering the recent Monumenta exhibit at the Grand Palais during which it’s hard not say, “This is it?” Standing by the front door, I heard a number of people express the sentiment, and I admit I thought it myself.
After all, this was a hugely hyped exhibit of one of the most renowned sculptors of our era — but when you walk in, all you see is five giant, apparently identical slabs of steel, lined up in a monotonous row.
Appearances, though, can be deceiving.
As an artist, Richard Serra can be strikingly austere, even by minimalist standards. But he is also frequently playful and contrary in his works (see the to-do about his 1981 piece, Tilted Arc), and so I believe this initial shock and disappointment was exactly what he intended. It is in the wake of this disappointment, however, that a true appreciation of Promenade begins to take form — because as you walk around and through the five monoliths, you’re bound to uncover the subtle beauty in the rhythm and off-kilter balance of their relationship.
I doubt my photos do any justice to the experience, but for what it’s worth, here is a taste of Promenade:
And as always, more here.
Note: this post is horribly outdated, and the exhibit itself is long since closed, but that might actually be a good thing. Based on the images originally used to promote the event, I think the curators wanted people to be surprised by the actual sculptural content when they entered the hall. I can see why they would — this piece simply wouldn’t be the same if you knew what was coming. So I was wondering for a while if it would be wrong of me to share my photos with people who might conceivably go to the exhibit, but… too late! You missed it, so enjoy.