Champs Elysees revives past glories with help from giants of sculpture

 

THE LATEST spectacular plan in the Parisian tradition of grand municipal projects comes to fruition next month. Work began yesterday to install more than 50 works of 20th century sculpture, taken mostly from Paris sites and collections, on a kilometre long stretch of the Champs Elysees between the Place de la Concorde and the Rond Point.

The exhibition was supposed to have been kept a secret. Paris commuters, the city council had hoped, would emerge from the Concorde and Champs Elysees metro stations one morning to be surprised and delighted.

The secret was broken last weekend, however, by a discreet announcement in the Figaro newspaper's colour magazine, which said that Parisians in the know were talking of nothing else.

The works are to be presented as landmarks in the sculpture of this century. The exhibition will include a Picasso, a Klein, three Rodins, a Miro, and a Giacometti. It is to open on April 11th and last two months.

One purpose of the exhibition is to celebrate the completion of a five year project to restore the Champs Elysees as the promenade that its 17th century architect intended. The road surface has been narrowed, the pavements widened and a second line of plane trees planted to give its lower reaches a more park like feel.