The illegal installation of Clara-Clara in the Tuileries Gardens

1. Clara-Clara by Richard Serra in the Tuileries Gardens
Photo : D. Rykner, 18 February 2009

22/2/09 – Heritage – Paris, Jardin des Tuileries – Installed in April 2008 in the Tuileries at the time of the exhibition Monumenta at the Grand Palais, the gigantic steel sculpture Clara-Clara by Richard Serra has been illegally occupying the location since the month of November 2008.

Initially, the permit to exhibit this work in a place which it totally overpowers by its massive size was only temporary, and there was never any question of authorizing its permanent installation despite the artist’s barely disguised desire to do so. Let us remember moreover that it was not created for the Tuileries, unlike the often repeated claims, but rather for an exhibition at Beaubourg in 1983. As the floor at the Centre Pompidou was too fragile to bear the weight of the 50 ton sculpture, it had then been presented in the gardens, arousing a controversy at the time. After being moved to a square in the 13th arrondissement, Clara-Clara had finally been relegated to a storage depot for art works belonging to the City of Paris. The size of these two curved metal plates (32 metres), rusted on purpose, makes it difficult to exhibit.

2. Clara-Clara by Richard Serra in the Tuileries Gardens
Photo : D. Rykner, 18 February 2009

3. Clara-Clara by Richard Serra in the Tuileries Gardens
Photo : D. Rykner, 18 February 2009

The Musée du Louvre, which runs the Tuileries, is not to blame, nor is the Minister of Culture [1] who sent a letter to the mayor of Paris asking him to remove the sculpture, as had been agreed initially. Since the presence of the large ferris wheel on the Place de la Concorde (another, recurring, scandal) rendered this a difficult operation, it had been agreed that Clara-Clara would be removed end of January. And yet, on Wednesday 18 February, the steel walls were still there as attested to by our photographs, spoiling one of the most famous places in Paris [2]. The rather tense relations between the Ministry of Culture and the City of Paris, as seen recently on the subject of the Hotel Lambert, should not be a pretext for allowing this situation to fester as it constitutes an infraction to the law on historical monuments. Bernard Delanoe, the mayor of Paris, should respect his commitments, or else the government should force him to do so.

Version française

Didier Rykner, dimanche 22 février 2009


[1] However the Louvre and the Ministry of Culture should never have accepted the return of the sculpture in the Tuileries, which had been proposed by the National Museum of Modern Art.

[2] Let us recall the Tuileries gardens are a historical monument

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