Monumenta 2011: The Leviathan


I waited till the third last day of the exhibit to finally make my way to see something truly special…



I literally ran from school to the Grand Palais for a last chance viewing of Anish Kapoor’s creation for Monumenta 2011 the stupendous – Leviathan.


For the fourth year in a row, the French Ministry for Culture invited a famous international sculptor to respond to the monumental space provided below the canopy of the glass roof of the Nave – providing an incredible 13,500m2 of space and able to reach heights of 35m.



This year Anish Kapoor, one of our generation’s greatest contemporary sculptors, produced a new work for the Grand Palais’ monumental space.




In one of the publicity packages for the exhibit Kapoor talks about his work, saying that it is his goal to create “A single object, a single form, a single colour. My ambition is to create a space within a space that responds to the height and luminosity of the Nave at the Grand Palais. Visitors are invited to walk inside the work, to immerse themselves in colour, and it will, I hope, be a contemplative and poetic experience.”


I felt exactly as he had described as I made my way quickly through his exhibit in the last 15 minutes of its opening.




I first entered the inside of his creation, and my eyes had to adjust to the change in light and colour – I was enveloped in a crimson red cloud with other guests and we all stared intently into the curves and lines of this wonderful arena.



I wish I had the option of spending more time inside and seeing the roof structure through the bubble, but it was too late and the grey skies did not provide enough light to illuminate the space as it had been conceived by the artist.



I walked back outside having experienced the emotional effects of the colour and made my way into the open space of the nave to explore the outside of this creature.




This building sized sculpture made from aubergine coloured material was imposing up close. Walking close enough to touch it at the same time as another admirer we both noticed that it was flexible and quickly realised it was a rubber like material like the one used to make life-rafts.



Walking underneath was a sight to behold, it reached up high above our heads, and seemed to be like a visiting alien inhabiting the massive space below the iron and glass roof of the Grand Palais.



The nave was filled with it’s organic shape, which morphed into 3 separate spheres like a fluid gel joined to each other by appendages.



I had run into another Australian by chance and as we walked around together we marvelled at this artist’s vision.


We had come late and so tried to capture some of the grandeur in the little time we had.


We made our way up the staircase to try and view it from afar, but no matter how high or far away from it we managed to go it still was too large to envision in its entirety.



In the waning light it’s surface diffused the light and reflected the roof above like a mirror.





As usual I managed to be one of the last people out of the building literally ushered out by security as they closed the exhibit. And so I was lucky enough to snap some parting pictures with the massive space empty of visitors.



In stark contrast to its normally packed nature the piece seemed to loom even larger and take on an almost natural life-like position in the room and in my wild imagination I almost expected it to start growing and further evolving in its environment.



Sadly I never made it back for another look although I wish I had.


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