Monumenta at the Grand Palais

Since 2007, the Grand Palais has hosted an annual exhibition called “Monumenta.” The French Ministry for Culture and Communication invites an international artist to create a new work designed specifically for the nave of the impressive space.

This year Indian artist Anish Kapoor has created something that truly lives up to the expos’s name. His piece “Leviathan” for Monumenta 2011 is…well…monumental.

Yeah. You’re seeing correctly.

Here’s another shot of tiny people next to the great big art object:

For the record, I don’t mean tiny people in that they’re small. No, they’re normal-sized people next to a friggin’ humongous installation. We’re supposed to say size doesn’t matter, but come on. It really kind of does, right? Visiting the exhibition was definitely an awesome experience.

First, though, you start inside the giant installation.

This was sort of like being inside a giant red womb.

One of the neat things about the Grand Palais is its huge glass dome. As the light changed (it was a cloudy day, with shots of sunshine in passing moments), both the appearance and feel of the object itself changed. When the light streamed in, what looked at first opaque soon transformed, as we could now see the metal armature of the building itself.

The womb was all well and good, but we were ready to get out into the world. And as with birth, nothing really prepares you for what the world actually has in store.


What’s great is obviously how surreal it feels to be interacting with such an impressively scaled object – and yet it’s real!

We lingered for awhile, but there’s only so many angles from which to view the one object.

Back outside, we paid a short visit to the Petit Palais across the street (does the Petit Palais ever have an inferiority complex being across from the Grand Palais?)

I’m starting to think I have too many photographer friends. No, that’s not true. You can never have too many talented folks around you. I mean, I’m not a good model yet photographers are always snapping shots (the nerve!)

My friend wanted me to “engage” with the ornate door of the Petit Palais. Engage to me, meant trying to climb it, of course.

Don’t worry – I’m only “faux” climbing it. I have enough respect that I didn’t want to do any damage. (Sion vs the Palais).

My favorite pic of that series (besides the fact that I’m doing something weird with my hands) is this one:

I look so casual, as if I’m just walking out of “my house” or something. Why yes, I do live in this here palace. Just popping out for some errands.

Oh wait. You’re not interested in my paparazzi shots? You want actual information about how to get to Monumenta?

Right! You should go! It’s only open until June 23!

Nave of the Grand Palais – Main entrance
Avenue Winston Churchill 75008 Paris

Opening times
Daily except Tuesday
From 10:00 AM – 7 PM, Mondays and Wednesdays
From 10:00 AM – midnight, Thursdays to Sundays
Admissions close 45 minutes before closing.

Metro: lines 1, 9, 13 / Station: Franklin Roosevelt, Champs-Elysées-Clemenceau
Bus: lines 28, 32, 42, 72, 73, 80, 83, 93

Admission to the exhibition gives free entry to the program of same day evening events.

5.00 euros



18 Responses to “Monumenta at the Grand Palais”

  1. 1 pretemoiparis June 13, 2011 at 1:13 pm

    okay, I was kind of not interested in seeing this… but after reading your post, I am curious! Maybe I will go 🙂


    • 2 paris (im)perfect June 13, 2011 at 1:18 pm

      Well, it all depends on what you expect/want out of an exhibition. There is just the one object on display, so what you see in the photos is about all there is to see. Just a question of being there in person as it *feels* different to be in the presence of such a big installation. I didn’t stay for long, but I was happy I went.


  2. 3 Patrick Ross June 13, 2011 at 3:19 pm

    Friggin’ humongous is right! My first reax was “okay, artist, your only schtick is size?” but then your prose and photos captured the artist’s vision, which I would love to experience myself (not happening, unfortunately).

    I loved this: “I’m starting to think I have too many photographer friends. No, that’s not true. You can never have too many talented folks around you. I mean, I’m not a good model yet photographers are always snapping shots (the nerve!)”

    I surround myself with creatives as friends, which can be both invigorating (their energy) and intimidating (their talents and skills). I’m with you!


    • 4 paris (im)perfect June 13, 2011 at 5:04 pm

      Thanks so much for the comment, Patrick! Yes, it is both inspiring and intimidating to surround yourself with creative people. I feel so blessed to know so many talented folks!

      (Also, the size of the piece was a really effective schtick! 🙂 )


  3. 5 wkdwtch June 13, 2011 at 4:11 pm

    Fantastic! I want to hop on a plane and jet over just to see that exhibit. Thank you for the photos – they are truly amazing.

    I would totally believe you are a princess just popping out of the palace for a croissant.
    Your posts are always fun.


    • 6 paris (im)perfect June 13, 2011 at 5:05 pm

      Oh thank you! This makes me day if you can believe I’m a princess popping out of the palace 🙂

      Glad you like the posts – I have fun writing them!


      • 7 Lee Isbell June 13, 2011 at 9:17 pm

        Guess I’ll miss it. I’m passing through CDG on the 24th on the way south, no chance of getting into the city. But your photos tell the story. In any case, it reminded me that I hadn’t done Guggenheim-in-Bilbao on my blog yet, so you inspired me to get to work on that. I must say we saw a few head-scratching exhibits there. I know art should be through-provoking, but I’m not sure that some of the thoughts provoked were what the artist had in mind. The museum itself is, well, a museum-piece worth a visit just to see. Wish my memory was better so I’d be able to recite some of the facts our lovely guide gave us about it.


      • 8 paris (im)perfect June 13, 2011 at 9:31 pm

        Ha. I know what you mean, Lee. I often don’t know what to think about contemporary art. Always a good thing to have the mind stimulated, though! I’ll look forward to your Guggenheim-in-Bilbao post 🙂


  4. 9 Sugar Daze June 13, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    OMG, I almost went this morning with my kids thinking that there might be fewer people since it’s a holiday weekend and my mother-in-law talked me out of it. Saying the line of tourists would be insane. Should have gone – it does look incredible in your photos – what a striking installation and I bet it must be cool to interact with. Okay, gonna have to find some time to sneak out this week between orders to go take a look-see.


    • 10 Sion Dayson @ paris (im)perfect June 13, 2011 at 8:57 pm

      Hi Cat. You can spend as much or as little time there as you want. If you have a chance to sneak away for just a bit, you can easily see the exhibit quickly if you need. The coolest feeling is the initial “encounter” with the object. There was a line when I went, but it moved quickly. Don’t let people talk you out of going to see art! 🙂


  5. 11 Adam Roberts June 13, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    I wanted to go with my son at the weekend, but read that queues could be an hour long to get in. There’s no way he’d put up with that! We did the Invader exhibition at La Génerale instead – no queues, free to get in, Space Invader shaped waffles…he loved it!


  6. 12 Franck June 14, 2011 at 10:44 am

    Is there a valve somewhere?


  7. 13 Sweet Freak June 14, 2011 at 2:28 pm

    It’s sort of genius though. It gets you to visit such a grand building and then, you’re right, there’s only so much gazing at a massive orb you can do, so you’re in and out. Bam – you’ve gotten your arty quota for the week!


  8. 15 Stephanie June 14, 2011 at 4:28 pm

    What an awesome installation!! How I wish I’d stopped by while still in Paris – I mean what better place to be inside a giant ball of sorts? Glad you were able to make it and love the pictures. Plus, doesn’t everyone living in Paris have an apartment with gilded gold doors? If not, why am I moving there again?


  9. 17 Pen and Ink June 17, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Wow! Amazing pictures. I get a feeling for the true size of the objects. I wish you and your camera had photographed The Spruce Goose. I never found a photo that did justice to the actual size.


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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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