Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Paris Day 5 - La Defense and Outdoor Sculpture Museum

Paris CBD. Outdoor Sculptures Museum. Modern Architectural Playground.


Staying next to La Défense in Esplanade de la Défense, a 10 mins walk distance, meant that I would visit there more often than the average Paris visitor. This is Paris's CBD with skyscrapers. But it's little more than this.

This is my 2nd visit to La Défense, you could read my 1st visit a few days ago here to see the "little more than this" part. Paris visitors have polarised views about this place. This is understandable because Paris visitors are in general come here to see the Old Paris.

If you like the old part of Paris, you probably hate this Modern Paris. But if you like all things modern, and modern art, you would looking forwards to La Défense more than others.

So if you have only a few days to visit Paris, especially for the 1st timers, then you probably give this place a miss. But if you've visited Paris more than once, and have more than a week stay like me, this is worthy of a look.

Apart from Grand Arch attraction, La Défense is dotted with outdoor sculptures around the area. You could make it an outdoor museum day trip if you're into modern art. It's a nice way to spend a lazy pleasant afternoon.

To avoid missing any of the sculptures, or to save time, or to get some background info about the sculptures, start your trip by first dropping into Musée de La Défense (La Défense Museum), get yourself a pamphlet titled "Plan du Musée à Ciel Ouvert" ("The Map of Open Air Museum"). It doesn't come in English, but you would have no problem reading it. There isn't much text anyway. Maybe this is the reason it doesn't come in English.

The museum is located not far from La Défense Metro's exit. The place is sandwiched, or more correctly wrapped around by a coffee shop (whose name escapes me). The museum's info desk is at the street level where you pick up the map. The museum exhibits are located downstairs.

If you're a fan of architecture like me, it offers the history of Axe Historique (read this article), as well as history of La Défense in general. Lots of architectural models and photographs to look at. It's admission free. Nobody was around when I was there (neither tourist nor staff). I could have taken home a few nice models (and nobody to stop me) if they're not encased in glasses or bolted down.

The pamphlet shows some 68 outdoor sculptures. So the city council takes this outdoor museum thing quite seriously. The sculptures are being spread from the Grand Arch to Esplanade de la Defense Metro station.

If you want to study up the pamphlet in question before hand, you can do so at the La Defense official website.

Statue of La Défense de Paris, La Défense, Paris, France
Statue of La Défense de Paris (1883)
This statue gives this district its name.
It's probably the oldest thing in this place

Personnages by Joan Miró, La Defense, Paris, France
Personnages by Joan Miró (1976)
Miró is better known for his painting. This is a 3D rendition of his 2D arts.
This colourful, playful sculpture gives a wonderful juxtapositions to the straight
edged, more austere modern architecture in this area.
This is my most fave sculpture in La Defense

L'Oiseau mécanique by Philolaos, La Defense, Paris, France
L'Oiseau Mécanique by Philolaos (1972)
Look up in the balcony! It's a bird...It's a plane...it's modern art !

Point Growth by Lim Dong-Lak (1999), La Defense, Paris
Point Growth by Lim Dong-Lak (1999)
Organic Vs Inorganic, Linear Vs Sphere,
Open Vs Closed, Dark Vs Shiny,
Rough Vs Smooth, Up Vs Down

La Dame Lune by Julio Silva, La Defense, Paris, France
La Dame Lune by Julio Silva
This "Lady Moon" is carved in marble

L'Araignée Rough by Alexander Calder, La Defense, Paris, France
L'Araignée Rouge by Alexander Calder (1974)
This giant "Red Spider" has a few missing legs.

Les Signaux Lumineux By Vassilakis Takis, La Defense, Paris, France
Les Signaux Lumineux by Takis (1990)
This sculpture is installed atop of Esplanade Metro

Several buildings on either side of the Grand Arch echo its arch structure.

Les Quarter Temps, La Defense, Paris, France
Les Quarter Temps shopping mall

Les Collines de l'Arche, La Defense, Paris, France
Les Collines de l'Arche

Regularly, the space/square in front of the Grand Arch holds art installations or concerts. While I was there, an installation titled "Flowers 2.0" was put on display. All the flowers are made from recycled plastic bottles.

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