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Motophant elephant

Sculpture park – Fontvieille – Part III

HelloMonaco continues to tell you about the history of sculptures which decorate the gardens and parks of Monaco. These sculptures hidden in the park of Fontvieille are masterpieces by different modern artists from all corners of the globe.

The strange elephant by the name of “Motophant” will appear on your path while you walk in the Fontvieille park. Let’s stop for a while in front of this astonishing sculpture. It was created in 1988 by Arman (Armand Pierre Fernández), a Franco-American artist who was born in Nice in 1928. At the beginning of the 1960s he was a co-founder of a new movement in art called “New Realism”. Later, from this movement was born the School of Nice in opposition to the Parisian school of avant-garde art.

Arman was eager to show symbolically the awful consequences of the destruction of modern society, via his work. He considered consumer society a threat to the planet and has shown it in his numerous works. We see half-ruined forms demonstrating the harm that people cause to the environment. For example, “Motophant” shows us the ruinous interaction between technology and nature, and as we all perfectly understand, it is nature that is most at the risk.

The heroic cavalry
The heroic cavalry

“Motophant” is not the only sculpture by Arman in the Fontvieille park. If you walk a little further, you’ll see “The heroic cavalry”. At first sight it seems that it is a huge horse that has reared up and is going to gallop away.

However, if you look more accurately at this composition, you notice an anatomic discrepancy between the sculpture and its live prototype – a horse. One has the feeling that the steel horse has reared up in such a rage that now it is about to burst into… various small cogs. Here we witness Arman’s accusatory message against the technical progress bringing harm to the environment. Arman reminds us again that we need to care about nature in an era of the rapid development of technologies and mechanics.

In fact, this sculpture represents the cavalry. You can see a certain number of horses in one bundle collated by metal harnesses organise a sort of high tower. It gives you the impression that they want to escape from the steel chains which constrain them and to gallop free in the fields. Arman’s works have this quality ̶ you try to dig deeper to understand their hidden meaning.

Grande Toscano
Grande Toscano

Continuing on the subject of chariots, cavalries and ancient battles, we move on to the next work, under the name “Armour”. This creation by Igor Mitoraya in 1984 was subsequently presented as a gift to the Principality and established in Fontvieille park. The Polish sculptor was born in 1944, and 22 years later he moved to Paris. One of his monumental sculptures is known under the name “Grande Toscano” and it is on view in the French capital in the La Défense district today.

The human body was the primary subject of the works of Igor Mitoraj. The master was eager to show the beauty of the body, its strength and its fragility at the same time. He never made a sculpture of the whole human body, but his works always represent different parts of it. All works by Igor Mitoraj, sculpted in on a huge scale, aim to remind us that the human being at the same time is a fragile creature.


In his sculptures he intentionally left  some imperfections – holes in the torsos and the heads which present gaping wounds showing the instability and uncertainty of human existence.

Read also the first and second parts of a series of publications about sculptures in the park of Fontvieille.

More interesting history is yet to come on the sculptures gracing the parks and gardens of Monaco…

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