There are still sculptures whose history we have not yet been revealed to you here and they are all decorating various gardens and parks of Monaco. In this final article in our series on sculpture, our walk in Fontvieille park is coming to an end.
Today we will begin with Roberto Barney, an Italian sculptor living in Florence. He offered to the Fontvieille park his work called “Mute slaves” (1989). In fact, Barney used that title in naming several of his sculptures, one of which he gave as a gift to the principality. In this version we see two blindfolded men bearing a heavy floor slab, and who are clearly under a lot of strain. The composition allegorically shows us how mankind thoughtlessly and blindly moves forward. Besides the fact that these men are mute, their eyes are tied with a scarf. Where can people be heading to, if they are incapable of expressing their thoughts and seeing a road in front of them?
“The torso of despair” is the name of another sculpture that you find in Fontvieille park. It is the work of the Spanish sculptor Victor Ochoa, from Madrid. Next to this sculpture there are a few benches so it is a perfect place to sit and think in silence about the past, or perhaps, about the future.
This Spanish master is known for painting portraits of different celebrities; however, he always devoted his sculptures to the human body. Ochoa usually focused on nude male figures. In particular he was interested in interaction between human beings and nature. In his opinion, clothes only build barriers between them.
In addition to his many sculptors, Victor Ochoa began with the artistic medium of drawing. He is the author of portraits of many famous people, among whom were the Spanish king Juan Carlos I, the Spanish and American biochemist Severo Ochoa, the Nobel Prize laureate in physiology and medicine Santiago Ramón y Cajal, the Spanish writer and the publicist Camilo José Cela, and many others. He began his practice with drawing and reached perfection with sculpture. For example, one of Victor Ochoa’s works under the name “The Savage” is situated in the Spanish city of Cartagena as a tribute to all victims of terrorist attacks around the world.
The sculpture by the French artist Andre Masson “Brother and sister” differs from the others in its surreal composition. No wonder that Masson was a loyal follower of this style. After World War I, during which the sculptor was seriously injured, the doctor told him: “Never live in the big cities again!”
Masson at first followed doctor’s advice and settled in Aix-en-Provence (France). However he couldn’t live there all his life. Destiny brought him to Italy, then Paris. For example, Masson painted a ceiling in the well-known Odeon theatre in the French capital in 1964.
Among artists, sculptors, and actors, Masson was well-known. Ernest Hemingway even purchased several of his artworks. Masson died in Paris at the age of 91. His children followed in their father’s steps and found themselves professionally in the art world as well.
In a sculpture called “Brother and sister”, as well as in any other work by the surrealist, we can only suppose these forms are human bodies. We can see two figures embracing, but then we have to let our imagination take over. Imagine horrors of World War I which young Masson had to live through. Imagine the burning houses and villages, and blazing forest. And there are two blurred figures of frightened children which you can see through the smoke. They feel lost in this turmoil. They don’t understand what is going on around them. The wars of the 20th century have left an indelible mark on all of Masson’s generation. Undoubtedly most works by these veterans always had these distant echoes of war.
And our long walk through the park comes to an end with a small riddle. Walking through the park of Fontvieille, we approach the next sculpture. There is a sculpture of a rider looking in the distance. It seems that he has just stopped after a long ride and his horse is obediently waiting until the rider chooses where to go next. Alas, this mysterious sculpture doesn’t have any plaque bearing its name. We can only guess at the identity of this mysterious rider and where he dreams of going. Perhaps, you, dear readers, can help us to solve this mystery of the Fontvieille Park? And until then he remains only the mysterious rider by the unknown artist who guards the peace in the park of the small principality.
Hopefully this journey through the history of the sculptures in the parks and gardens of Monaco has given you food for thought, and an interest in taking a closer look at the artworks around you as you walk around the principality.