French Town Trashes Major Public Sculpture

Carlos Cruz-Diez. Photo via Facebook.

A French town decided that rather than repair a public sculpture by the renowned Venezuelan artist Carlos Cruz-Diez, it would send it to the trash heap. The artist, whose works are a blend of Op art-influenced sculpture and James Turrell-meets-Bruce Nauman light art installations, had installed the sculpture, titled Colonne Chromointerférente and said to be worth €200,000 (about $270,000), on the grounds of a high school in La Roche-sur-Yon in western France in 1972. The 20-foot-tall enamel-on-steel tower, painted with crisscrossing bands of blue, green, red, and white, had become visibly dirty. And then, as local blogger William Chevillon first noticed, it simply disappeared.

The blogger first noticed the massive sculpture’s absence on June 15, a day when the local community was celebrating its cultural patrimony with a tour of the town’s public art. Surprised by the work’s disappearance, Chevillon pressed the local council for an explanation and was informed that because of security risks related to the increasingly rusty surface of the sculpture, it had been sent to the dump over the Easter holidays.


Carlos Cruz-Diez, Colonne Chromointerférente shortly after its installation in 1972.
Photo: Courtesy the artist. © Carlos Cruz-Diez.

In a letter published by Ouest France, Cruz-Diez responded to the unceremonious scrapping of his art. “For those who ordered the destruction of my Colonne Chromointerférente… art does not exist and makes no sense. If the situation had been any different, the work would have been maintained,” he wrote. He also expressed disbelief that “such an incident could have taken place in a country that is considered cultured and a fervent defender of the arts.”

As Le Figaro notes, the sculpture had been commissioned under the auspices of the local percent-for-art program, set up in 1951.

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