“Have a seat” says the sculptor

Paris has more interesting outdoor statues than anyplace else I know. We aren’t talking statues that were more put up recently to be “different”, we’re talking statues that were put up over history that stop you in your flaneur tracks.

One of my favorites is “Big Foot”.

Early modern art sometimes came (and still often comes) with an arrow and “this side up”. It used to be considered a joke. But modern art can be confusing. You will often see a viewer tilting their head, and saying “What is that? What was the artist trying to convey?” Artists can’t stand beside their work all the time, explaining “this is my view of the sadness of dandy lions”, or “this statue is about compassion and hemorrhoids”. (or whatever their art is supposed to represent). Modern art often makes the viewer work harder. You have to interpret two things, what the artist was trying to say, and what the art says to you. Your appreciation is a combination of the two.

My favorite statue in Paris though helps the viewer out a bit. There is no need to know what side is “front” and what is “back”. The artist, and indeed it is part of the artwork, has placed a chair that never moves. It is bolted in place. The viewer can sit in the chair, and contemplate the work. The artist is telling the viewer, “Look from here, and sit and take your time.” The artist wants you to restfully look at the work, and thus think about it a bit. No quick walk by. No quick judgement please. Sit, rest, look.

It is fun to see people to try to move the chair, perhaps to take to the nearby pond.
The chair appears to have just been placed there casually. The chair in fact has been placed there very deliberately, while taking pains to not be seen as part of the art. It is simply the artist, giving the viewer a hint about how to view the work.

It should be noted, that while I enjoy sitting in the chair part of the work, and enjoying the view, small children love climbing on this statue. Despite a large playground nearby, something about this statue begs children to climb on it.

I have to admit, I slid down the big “foot” part myself.

The seat won’t move. The artist says,

After sitting a bit, I think I like it!

Categories: Art, Travel

Tags: , , , , , , ,

3 replies

  1. Clearly, this is the vantage point from which the artist has determined that the best view of the sculpture can be had. From the look of it, from this point the work looms high over the viewer and fills the visual field. It would have to be pretty impressive, though I have to admit I would be at least as interested in the view from the opposite side.

  2. I often take visitors to see the statue of Einstein here in DC, http://amc.maa.org/e-exams/e8-usamo/e8-3-usamomedia/01pics/2001USAMO.jpg Often I see people there who clearly want to sit in Albert’s lap, but are intimidated by the presence of others. I tell them, go ahead and sit on him for your photos; everyone does it.

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