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Tuesday, June 25, 2024

Monumental Richard Serra Work Could be Removed from Storage in Paris

A monumental steel sculpture by Richard Serra that has been held in a storage facility overseen by the city of Paris for several years may return to public view. The status of the sculpture, titled Clara-Clara, has recently entered into the discourse of Parisian officials following the American artist’s death in March at the age of 85.

Serra produced Clara-Clara for a 1983 retrospective at Paris’ Centre Pompidou. The installation consists of two 118-feet-long and 12-feet-high steel structures weighing 216,000 pounds; the pair curve away from one another to form a walkway.

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Curving sculptures formed from steel in a gallery.

The piece was installed in the public Tuileries Garden between the Jeu de Paume and the Musée de l’Orangerie after organizers of the exhibition deemed it too heavy to be installed indoors.

In 1985, two years after the exhibition, the city of Paris acquired Clara-Clara and relocated the piece to the smaller Parc de Choisy, located in the city’s thirteenth arrondissement. The sculpture did not fare well at the park: It was defaced with graffiti and damaged from visitors using the steel surface recreationally. To Serra’s dismay, Paris officials deinstalled it again in 1993, this time storing it out of sight.

It was pulled from storage for the first time in 2008 for display in the second edition of Monumenta, a contemporary art exhibition held at the Grand Palais in Paris. For the 2008 edition, Serra was commissioned to create another monumental sculpture, titled Promenande, that was situated in the historic building. The occasion reignited the debate of where in Paris to install Serra’s large-scale; in May of that year, Serra told the New York Times, that he wasn’t what Parisian officials would do with Clara-Clara after the exhibition ended.

Clara-Clara is currently held at the Fonds Municipaux d’Art Contemporain (FMAC), which manages the city’s collection of over 23,000 works of art and oversees restorations, according to Hyperallergic, which reported on the status of the sculpture’s location earlier this month.

It entered the city’s facility in 2010 after Monumenta. It had first been located at the storage center, a former water plant in Ivry-sur-Seine in Southeast Paris, by Columbia professor, Michelle Young, while she was conducting research.

At the end of March, Aurélien Véron, a member of the Groupe Changer Paris, a municipal right-wing opposition group, asked on X, “What future can be reserved for such a major sculpture?” Vernon described the sculpture as a “major work with high financial (several million €) & historical value,” and called on Carine Rolland, deputy mayor in charge of culture in Paris, to reinstall the work in public.

The office of Rolland, which oversees museums in the city, claimed that officials were considering three possible locations for the piece to be reinstalled “in the historic heart of Paris,” according to the French outlet Le Monde.

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