Richard Serra Receives French Legion of Honor Award

It's France's highest honor.

Richard Serra. Photo Bertrand Guay/AFP/Getty Images.

Today, artist Richard Serra will receive France’s highest honor, the insignia of Chevalier of the French Legion of Honor, at the Cultural Services of the French Embassy in New York, the Art Newspaper reports.

The prestigious award—created in 1802 by Napoleon Bonaparte to reward outstanding services rendered to France—celebrates the close relationship of the American artist with French art institutions and galleries, as well as his great contribution to contemporary art.

“For the French, Richard Serra is among the greatest sculptors today,” the French Ambassador to the United States, Gérard Araud, said in a statement. “His commissions like the Octagon for Saint Eloi and Philibert et Marguerite, and of course Promenade at the Grand Palais, transform and give new meaning to the landscape through their magnitude, singular material, and the unique relationship they cultivate between the space and the viewer,” he added.

Richard Serra’s Clara Clara (1983) installed in Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, Paris<br>Photo via: Flickr

Richard Serra’s Clara Clara (1983) installed in Tuileries, Place de la Concorde, Paris
Photo via: Flickr

The American artist has indeed left his mark on France’s cities, Paris in particular. One of his landmarks is his sculpture Clara-Clara (1983), formed by two identical steel conical sections, was originally installed in the Tuileries, Place de la Concorde. (This artwork enjoyed a much warmer reception than the butt-plug sculpture installed at—and quickly removed from—Place Vendôme by his compatriot Paul McCarthy).

In 2008, as part of the yearly “Monumenta” exhibition at Paris’ Grand Palais, Serra installed the epic Promenade, formed by five gigantic slabs, each 56 feet high, 13 feet wide, and weighing over 73 tons.

Richard Serra’s Promenade (2008) at the Grand Palais, Paris<br>Photo via: 40 Forever

Richard Serra’s Promenade (2008) at the Grand Palais, Paris
Photo via: 40 Forever

Serra has also showed at the country’s most prestigious museums, including the Louvre, the Centre Pompidou, the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, and the CAPC Musees d’Art Contemporain in Bordeaux and Lyon.

Other Americans awarded the Légion d’Honneur include Miles Davis, David Lynch, and Toni Morrison, among other luminaries.

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