Archive: Grand Palais
These are Anselm Kiefer’s teetering towers

These are Anselm Kiefer’s teetering towers

Anselm Kiefer - Installation view of the exhibition The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy, 2015
Anselm Kiefer – Installation view of the exhibition The Seven Heavenly Palaces 2004-2015, Pirelli HangarBicocca, Milan, Italy, 2015
Photo: Agostino Osio

Anselm Kiefer’s abandoned 200-acre studio

German artist Anselm Kiefer has long maintained a studio at Barjac in southern France, where he assembled his large sculptures and painted some of his dark, disturbing canvases. Now he has abandoned the site, with the wish that it be allowed to “revert to nature.” People exploring the site have been struck by these towers, made of concrete slabs held rather tenuously together with steel cables and iron bars.

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The longest snake you have ever seen

The longest snake you have ever seen

Huang Yong Ping - Ressort 2012, Aluminium, stainless steel, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Australia
Huang Yong Ping – Ressort, 2012, aluminium, stainless steel, 53m/185 foot, Queensland Gallery of Modern Art, Australia

Introduction

A massive snake in real life? Absolutely frightening. A massive snake skeleton, aluminum and stainless steel structure on the other hand? Absolutely exciting and awe-inspiring. Such is the Chinese-French artist Huang Yong Ping’s amazing aluminum snake sculpture, an installation he dubbed, Ressort. Designed and installed in 2012 for the Queensland Art Gallery in Australia, this magnificent structure features a snake skeleton made of silver vertebrae, undulating in a sinuous manner from the ceiling to the floor. The beautifully extending sculpture spans 53 meters across the Watermall and was a great centerpiece for the Asia Pacific Triennial of Contemporary Art #7.

About Huang Yong Ping

Huang Yong Ping was born in 1954 in Xiamen, China and is a contemporary artist who was part of the first students to be admitted to art academies after the 1966-76 Cultural Revolution1. Here, the artist developed a penchant for French postmodern theory, and along with the influence of Taoist and Zen Buddhist, he cofounded Xiamen Dada2, a well-known avant-garde group that mainly deals with construction materials in galleries as opposed to artworks. He lived in France where he shone the limelight on his art and as a result, while his artwork features Chinese mythological symbols such as the snake, it also sprinkles symbols and mythologies from the West; an approach that is evident in Ressort.

The meaning of ‘Ressort’

‘Ressort’, which is French for ‘spring’ is an apt name for this art piece as it also means energy. Huang’s use of the snake is evident in most of his work as the snake represents a central symbol of Chinese mythology3, and this specific pose that the skeleton took on as if uncoiling from the ceiling to the ground represents controlled energy and resilience. The snake in ancient Chinese myths is also a representation of knowledge and wisdom. In other Western cultures, it may be taken to represent fear, deception, desire and creation, even as evidenced in the Bible story of the Garden of Eden.

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