Sculpture in the Park

FIAC , the Paris Contemporary Art Fair, celebrated its 40th  anniversary at the end of October. So a stroll in the Tuileries Garden held even more delights than usual as we wandered through its avenues and past its fountains encountering an outdoor exhibition of temporary installations and sculptures joining the permanent collections in this formal landscape.

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Aristide Maillol – part of the permanent exhibition.

The Jardin de Tuileries is one of Paris’ foremost gardens, stretching from the Louvre to the Place de la Concorde. It was founded in the 16th century by Catherine de Medicis but achieved iconic status under Louis XIV and the great landscaper Le Nôtre. During the French Revolutionary period, the Royal family were brought from Versailles to the Tuileries Palace and allowed to exercise in part of the garden, until their final incarceration and execution. Today the park is popular amongst Parisians and visitors alike.

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Under President Chirac in 1998, works of modern sculpture such as those by Henry Moore and Auguste Rodin were installed in the Garden,  joining those of earlier centuries.

 A.Rodin 'The Kiss'

A.Rodin  ‘The Kiss’/ ‘Le Baiser’ , cast of the marble original

Then works by modern sculptors were added, so that the Garden became not simply one to stroll or jog in, but also an outdoor gallery.

'Confidence' Daniel Dezeuze

‘Confidence’       Daniel Dezeuze

Gaston Lachaise's  Standing Woman

Gaston Lachaise’s Standing Woman

For the FIAC (Foire Internationale d’Art Contemporain) , temporary additions were made to the resident sculptures.

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Shen Yuan ‘Bridge’

‘Bridge’ by Shen Yuan sought to promote cultural exchange, the white and blue ceramic glaze representing the Chinese Ming period and the tiles alluding to the tiles in Arab culture. Straddling the main axis through the park, it certainly provoked interest and comment. I noticed how it echoed the Obelisk in the distance in the Place de la Concorde.

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Look carefully at the striking geometrical shape of Jean Dupuy’s 3 metre high ‘Here’ and you will notice the multidirectional arrows spelling out the word ‘Here’.

Jean Dupuy Contemporary Art Fair, Tuileries Garden 2013

Jean Dupuy Contemporary Art Fair, Tuileries Garden 2013

I liked the way it framed the view,one could step through it , its geometric shape contrasting with the 18th century statues . It took me a little while before I noticed the word itself.

James Lee Byars ‘Golden Sphere’ , in its simplicity and contrast with the historic landscape, was a point of reflection on the pond in the central axis.

What I like too about the Jardin de Tuileries are the numbers of comfortable chairs available throughout the garden – something I think everyone should consider for their own garden.

'The Golden Sphere' James Lee Byars

‘The Golden Sphere’
James Lee Byars

A favourite sculpture of mine was Francisco Sobrino’s ‘Untitled’, a single reflecting module of polished steel mirror with systematic and repetitive interlocking, like a 3-dimensional modern Celtic knot. Its severe and challenging appearance at 7.5 metres high, brilliantly contrasting with the surrounding vegetation.

Contemporary art fair, Paris 2013 Francisco Sobrino

Contemporary art fair, Paris 2013
Francisco Sobrino

Of course I am still taken with classical sculpture in a classic setting :

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But a stroll in the park can be less predictable when you encounter this instead :

'Standing Figure' Willem de Kooning

‘Standing Figure’
Willem de Kooning

As the art critic Robert Hughes said in The Shock of the New , ” The greater the artist, the greater the doubt..”

So for me the FIAC was an exercise in embracing the new; how lucky Parisians are to have this wonderful outdoor exhibition in the Tuileries , and in many other locations, available to them every year.

Finally, a stroll later and we arrived in the Place Vendôme, where scaffolding shrouded the famous Ritz Paris, undergoing a two year renovation.

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However, the “scaffolding” on Napoleon’s statue on the Column was .. ahhh… another installation, this one by Tadashi Kawamata.

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More “interventions” could be seen around us on the square.

Place Vendome

Place Vendome

These ‘Tree Huts at Place Vendôme’  are likened to archaic tribal huts, a deliberate contrast to the style of the surrounding buildings, their elevated position inviting us to levitate and escape the chaos of the surrounding world… ”  the village of a mysterious and celestial community”.

Now what was that quote ..” The greater the artist, the greater the doubt ”

More information here on  placing art in your own garden.

Or creating focal points here.

(All photography mine; feel free to use any of Jardin’s images but please credit and link back)

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10 thoughts on “Sculpture in the Park

    • Yes, very few are suitable (on size alone) for private gardens but I enjoyed the opportunity to view them in that setting… the advantage of living in Europe is the variety of cultural events we can get to… avoiding the crowds and the rain are the disadvantages!


      • Yes I must admit I don’t think I would like all the rainy days. They seem to make for wonderful gardens though. I guess I’m lucky to be able to enjoy reading your posts. It certainly gives a good feel for the garden events. Thank you.


  1. Thank you so much for introducing me to more fabulous new things. I LOVE the Golden Sphere, which just seems to float on the surface of the water. Are you familiar with the work of Peter Randall- Page? I would love to be able to afford one of his sculptures- I would place it in my meadow. The closest I get to the presence which one of his pieces have is when the meadow is cut and made into big bales.; the poor man’s sculpture, but fabulous none the less.


    • Glad you liked the post.
      Yes, Randall-Page sculptures are magnificent, a real presence in a garden. I love the ones with complex curving lines like the ones found on Neolithic Irish tombs such as Newgrange.
      But big bales have a presence too…


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