PARIS.- Following the success of the first installation in the MONUMENTA series, by Anselm Kiefer in 2007 visited by over 135,000 people in less than five weeks American sculptor Richard Serra is the second artist to accept the MONUMENTA challenge, in 2008.
MONUMENTA is an ambitious artistic confrontation: each year, a leading international contemporary artist is invited to create a group of new works, specially conceived for the 13,500-m2 nave of the Grand Palais, in Paris. MONUMENTA implements an innovative outreach policy, with a commitment to provide an extensive range of interpretative visitor resources. Specialist guides are available on site (free of charge) to welcome individual visitors and help them explore and understand the installations, with the accent on dialogue and exchange. School groups from ages 3 to 18 can take advantage of a specially-devised programme of visits and workshops, offering a range of themes and formats, developed in association with a variety of institutions including the Théâtre National de Chaillot, the Coté de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, and the Young Visitors service at the Centre Pompidou, co-ordinated by the Centre National des Arts Plastiques (France's national centre for the visual arts). School activities offer a variety of dif ferent approaches, all based on essential components of the school curriculum. Reflecting the event's commitment to the promotion of cultural education, the activities are designed to provide children with the keys to an understanding of the installations at the Grand Palais, through dance, and the exploration of the body's spatial relationship to its environment, architecture and sculpture. More than ever, this major contemporary art event reflects the Ministry of Culture and Communication's commitment to bring the work of leading contemporary artists to the widest possible public.
Evocatively entitled Promenade, Richard Serra's installation for MONUMENTA 2008 presents a radical, poetic landscape of steel, minimalist yet full of movement. The work's simplified, majestic forms play on effects of contrast with the ethereal architecture of the metal and glass nave of the Grand Palais. The artist disrupts the visitor's relationship to the setting, and offers a unique experience designed to challenge our perception of space and gravity. Born in 1939, Richard Serra has been one of the leading exponents of modern American sculpture over the past three decades. His monumental steel sculptures reflect a minimalist approach, generating an intense spatial awareness that focuses attention on their production processes and the dialogue between the work and its environment. Working with industrial materials and highly complex engineering techniques, Serra's installations embody a plastic approach that pushes the powerful physical and material characteristics of the works to their utmost extremes. Richard Serra's often enormous sculptures are quite literally 'experienced' by the visitor, who moves both 'within' and around them, discovering an altered, often dizzying perception of their relationship to the space. For these reasons, Richard Serra was immediately attracted by the potential of the nave of the Grand Palais, rising to a height of 45 metres at its centre.