Lesser-Known Artists for the Latest “Monumenta”

monumenta 1Monumenta is an almost yearly exhibition at the Grand Palais, in which a noted artist is invited to fill the 44,000-square-foot space with an art installation. Former artists include Anselm Kiefer (2007), Richard Serra (2008), Christian Boltanski (2010), Anish Kapoor (2011), and Daniel Buren (2012).

Russian born artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov were chosen this year to execute their vision. I was not familiar with their work, so I had no idea what I would be seeing. The press beforehand gave scant information.

“The Strange City,” it turns out, is a creation of a utopian metropolis inspired by the Renaissance, Romanticism, and modern science.

monumenta 2The first thing you see when you walk in is a structure much like a huge fan, which constantly changes colors, giving a hypnotic effect.

A maze of white plaster walls contains seven rooms: The Entrance to the City, The Empty Museum, Manas, The Centre of Cosmic Energy, How to Meet an Angel, The Gates, The White Chapel, and the Dark Chapel.

Having seen all the past Monumenta shows, I liked the fact that that the artists took almost an opposite approach to the space than past artists, who filled the space with oversized and/or expansive pieces. The Kabakovs created a series of dark, theater-like intimate spaces.

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