In 2007, the French Ministry of Culture initiated a program to invite leading contemporary artists to create site-specific, temporary installations in the nave of this massive structure. The inaugural exhibition was prepared by Anselm Kiefer, and American artist Richard Serra accepted the "Monumenta" challenge for 2008.
Entitled "Promenade", Richard Serra's installation of 5 huge steel plates on an off-kilter axis is far more complex and involving that you might think. The visitor experiences the sculpture by walking into, through and around the entire field in what becomes an intensely personal examination of space, light, gravity and majesty. The scale of the installation fits the enormity of the space and therefore challenges the viewer to shift perceptions of height, movement and one's unique relationship to the larger space around him. It is at once a public and a private space. One may enter the Grand Palais thinking "what is all the fuss about", but I promise you, you will leave having had a powerful emotional experience.
Richard Serra's "Promenade" is at the Grand Palais until June 15th. His outdoor installation "Clara-Clara", created in 1983, will grace the Tuileries Gardens until November 3rd.