HelloMonaco opens a series of publications devoted to the history of the sculptures adorning the gardens and parks of Monaco. Sometimes the whimsical creations of architects are hidden from the eyes of curious tourists and only an experienced observer can see them amongst the green of the trees. Today we will be discovering the sculpture park of Fontvieille.
At the initiative of Prince Albert II, the Fontvieille park has been acquiring sculptures of famous contemporary artists from all over the world. This is one of the Prince’s contributions to the development of modern art in the Principality, already famous for a great variety of cultural events.
Fontvieille is a venue of the Contemporary Art Fair, known as the “White Night,” which encourages the work of new contemporary artists. If you stroll along its peaceful alleys, you will definitely come across at least one or two of these sculptures. Upon further inspection, you will find that most sculptures bear a plaque with the name and artist. Some have been there for several decades and few people remember how they came to the park. However, all these works of art remain in excellent condition thanks to the proper care and protection.
So let’s take a stroll across the shady park of Fontvieille.
“A Woman with a cigarette”
One of the first sculptures on our way is a lady of magnificent form who seems to be laying down on the green grass and thinking about eternity with a lit up cigarette. The sculpture is the creation of Fernando Botero, an 84-year old Colombian painter and sculptor. During his career, he traveled a great deal and quickly gained recognition. In 1992, Botero sculptures were presented in an exhibition on the Champs Elysees in Paris.
But before his international acclaim, Botero’s career actually began with watercolors. Back then he was charging 200 dollars per piece and he had just moved to New York. Within a few years, he was not only making a living for himself, but providing for the rest of his family in Colombia.
His open-air expositions became an absolute novelty. Botero was the very first artist and sculptor whose pieces interacted with the audience in this way. He was a pioneer who made this tradition popular among his fellow artists.
Fernando Botero has his own museum in Bogota, which is home to 123 of his works from watercolor paintings to sculptures. Botero continues to work to this day, being just as productive as in his younger years. The artist himself admits: “The only reason I am afraid of death, is because I have to stop creating, which I love so much.”
“A Woman with a cigarette” is made in bronze and dates back to 1984.
Incidentally, Monaco hosts another one of his sculptures named “Adam and Eve” which you can see on the terrace with a beautiful sea view, next to the Casino of Monte-Carlo.
The next sculpture that draws our attention is called “Fish” (1986). This work was a gift to Monaco from an Italian sculptor. The fish symbolizes the Mediterranean and reflects the efforts of Prince Albert II in protecting the endangered species. Not only fish, but also all marine flora and fauna in the region.
Next to the “Fish”, there is a sculpture by Emma de Sigaldi called “Evolution” (1979). The author lived in Monaco from 1954 up until the end of her days in 2010.
Emma did not become a sculptor straight away. She was born in Germany in 1910, and was a prima ballerina at the age of 17. Back in those years, she was friendly with the artists of the Bauhaus, a famous German School of Construction and Artistic design. That’s where she met her future husband, Count Felix de Sigaldi. The married couple then moved to Monaco.
Once in the Principality, Emma turned to contemporary art and, in particular, to sculpture. Sculpture provided her with a new vehicle of artistic expression, as by that time she had to give up her passion for dancing. Princess Grace immediately fell in love with the work of Emma de Sigaldi, who mixed two techniques: cast iron and marble. Depending on the sculpture, Emma added more marble or cast iron. Many of her early works is very figurative and symbolic. In the 1980’s, she style turned more to expressionism.
Next week, we will continue our discovery of the sculptures hidden amongst the flora of Fontvieille Park.