Saturday, March 29, 2008

Searching for Utopia


If you'd walk by the Grand Palais today (a huge exhibition hall originally built for the Paris Exhibition of 1900) you'd see something pretty unusual: a huge turtle made of bronze (it weights no less than... 5 tons!). The little man on the turtle is... a self-portrait Jan Fabre, the Belgian artist who actually made this masterpiece (called "Searching for Utopia"). BTW, the reason why this turtle sits outside the museum is that the Grand Palais is going to host ArtParis, a pretty famous modern art exhibition.

35 comments:

  1. How beautiful! I love art exhibits but have never been to one in Paris, where I insist on being outdoors at all times.

    Smooches to Eric today!

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  2. Cool.

    By the way, I should say the Wiki photograph of the Grand Palais does not do it justice. It really is an incredible building inside out - especially since they cleaned it up recently! If Tour St. Jacques (yesterday's post) took a good couple of years, I can only imagine how long it must have taken to clean up Grand Palais and its beautiful glass ceiling.

    How about a pic of the Grand Palais taken from the Pont Alexandre III, Eric? :-D (Oh, come on, it's worth the trip, you know you'll get some pretty good shot of a few good things down that way ;)

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  3. Awesome turtle and its symbol! Like it a lot! Also a beautiful title for that masterpiece!
    Utopia, a lot to say about: "L'utopie est la vérité de demain", Victor Hugo.
    Many other famous sentences exist about utopia, not always to be considered as an unrealizable project!
    Good night, to the european side!

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  4. Great photo but not too keen on the artwork, though i love the medium. Confused? So am i.

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  5. What!? Art Exhibits in Paris! Now I've heard everything. Hang on Jan, that turtle is on the move!

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  6. What a fun sculpture! Wouldn't it be fun to ride a turtle? Cool.

    Thanks for sharing the art of Paris!!

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  7. Why does the ArtParis exhibition lasts so few days?

    Is this turtle as big as it seems from the angle you shot it?


    Tomate I know exactly what angle of the Grand Palais you have in mind. I took several pictures of it from Pont Alexandre III. It's just trop joli, I couldn't stop taking photos of it...

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  8. Stupendous venue, of course, but the work on display as part of ArtParis 2008 is, well, less than impressive - indeed, it's all a bit old hat. Fortunately, there are many other great exhibits to see in Paris at the moment - Louise Bourgeois at the Centre Pompidou, or Babylon at the Louvre, for example.

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  9. Eric are you going to show us aything about Earth Hour that will take place today?

    Is Paris involved in this project?

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  10. That would be a grand spectacle for one to encounter while walking down the street. How wonderful!

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  11. With a 5 ton turtle at the entrance I'm sure many will be enticed to enter and see the rest of the exhibition.

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  12. I like this turtle. It's oddly spectacular.

    You know what Paris is? It's our Athens, our Rome, our grand place where art and architecture are at their most beautiful and innovative. Just look at that turtle, then look at the great columns and doorway behind it.

    And this is not the past, it's now. How fortunate we are. Where's my plane ticket?

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  13. Petrea: I agree, the gargantuan turtle at the entrance is certainly interesting (and spectacular, and now, etc.), but the art inside is pretty ordinary, if the examples posted on ParisArt's website are anything to go by. An exception to the general ho-humness this online teaser is AES+F's "Last Riot", which is an image I am sure will get audience's looking, talking and debating - and for all sorts of reasons. Some may even find it beautiful and innovative.

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  14. And now, with my typing errors corrected...

    Petrea: I agree, the gargantuan turtle at the entrance is certainly interesting (and spectacular, and now, etc.), but the art inside is pretty ordinary, if the examples posted on ParisArt's website are anything to go by. An exception to the general ho-humness of this online teaser is AES+F's "Last Riot", which is an image I am sure will get audiences looking, talking and debating - and for all sorts of reasons. Some may even find it beautiful and innovative.

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  15. It sounds very interesting to me. I have always loved art with Arab influence and, by the artist exhibiting, it seems this s is what is all about this year.
    A shame that is so short lived...
    Guille you must go and tell us all about it!

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  16. I have to say Eric that in general I'm not a big fan of turtles or modern art for that matter but in this case I'll have to make an exception. It looks fabulous. Great perspective to the photo too.

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  17. Look, it's a traveling turtle!! Here she is, at the beach...


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/dekarma/201695775/

    What an incredible project.

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  18. Thanks for the photos, Tomate, they're fun.

    Lucio, I was speaking more about the city, as opposed to this one exhibit. Exhibits come and go. But the beauty one finds in Paris, at almost every turn, is timeless.

    (I found London to be fabulous as well, and will surely fall madly in love with any ancient town or city that's well-preserved. I love the oldest structures. This from one who lives in a city that's barely over 100 years old.)

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  19. I like the turtle. I have a stuffed turtle that I use in class to help my students learn prepositions (sur la chaise, près de la porte, etc).

    The age of Paris fascinates me to this day. When I lived in the 5th in college I was astonished that down the street to the right was a Roman arena (les arènes de Lutèce), down the road the other way was part of the original wall surrounding Paris, and the building across the street had a plaque that said 1865 and it was an apartment building with a verrerie on the rez-de-chaussée! Here in Richmond if it was a building from 1865 they'd say "Don't touch it! It's a historical landmark!" Of course 1865 was an important year in Richmond's history, with the fall of the Confederacy and the Great Conflagration when much of the city at that time was burned. But still, I have a profound respect for cities with some history. There is always something to discover.

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  20. woohoo,ride 'em cowboy Jan!
    I'm looking forward to viewing the exhibition as I know nothing about emerging Arab artists.
    Went to see Louise Bourgeois but the line was WAY too long. I hope one can buy tkts in advance, as this is proving to be a very popular exhibition.
    Petra, let me assure you that someone with your curiosity would constantly be discovering all the layers of wonder London too, has to offer.

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  21. Great blog Eric. Enjoyed all your pics and stories. and got a good laugh out of some of the comments.

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  22. Ooh, Marcia, I know how you feel.

    Phx-cdg, welcome back! You have much to catch up on. Yes, London! I've had one visit there--11 days, and it wasn't nearly enough. I couldn't stand to leave. One never runs out of things to see there and I loved exploring.

    Marcia, that feeling you had in Paris is something you can get in London, too (not to mention the countryside all over Europe). Those Romans got around.

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  23. Ahhhhh.. the 5th! ;) Yes, tons of history and hidden treasures down there, especially astonishing when you come from a much "younger" country such as the US.

    I don't know about the rest of you guys, but this huge art piece is really growing on me, big time!

    I'm almost sorry you didn't post more pictures in the "making of" Eric :) Maybe it's the name of the piece that particularly connects with me, I don't know, or maybe it's the shiny metal, or just the size of it, or maybe it's the underlying message, I don't really know, but I find it really, really, really moving (no pun intended) and impressive.

    (Thanks for the kind words, Petra and Monica).

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  24. Petrea--I've been to London too, and feel very much at home there as well! In fact, my mom and I are traveling this summer to the UK. London, Cambridge, York, Edinburgh, Manchester..... It's going to be fun even if it is a lot of time on a bus!

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  25. Marcia, I won't say I'm jealous. I'm happy for you! And I intend to follow as soon as possible.

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  26. i ate at the restaurant inside the grand palais, zi mini palais last week - very nice. great idea to have a restaurant in such a nice building. not expensive at all (at least for a northern european), good food and great service.

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  27. I was in Paris last weekend and saw the Turtle too, but I didn't know what it was for. Thanks for the information :-)

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  28. I saw the turtle in true, yesterday (tuesday), as I wanted to go and visit Marie-Antoinette's exhibition at Le Grand Palais, in order to change my mind after a crazy day...
    Unfortunately, this happened to be not possible, since the exhibition is closed on monday :(
    I didn't remember it! No luck for me!!
    But anyway, I was very pleased to meeting this big turtle in person That is bigger than the photo let it supposed to but the photo is even nicer than the real one ;)

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