35 years ago, Bernar Venet was asked by former French culture minister Jack Lang in 1984 to build the gigantic piece of art, “Arc Majeur”. The sculpture was supposed to be installed along the A6 motorway near the French town of Auxerre, but the project was abandoned before completion due to strong local opposition.
Now, the French artist will finally be able to realize his original vision for the gigantic piece of art, which has been placed across a busy highway in Belgium. Once unveiled in October, the 250-tonne steel sculpture will be the largest public artwork in Europe.
The €2.5 million project has been installed along the E411 highway between Namur and Luxembourg. Titled “Arc Majeur”, the sculpture takes the form of a sweeping, circular arch coming out from the earth on either side of a highway linking Brussels to Luxembourg. The massive steel pieces have been placed on either side of the road, measuring about 30 meters tall on one side of the road and soaring to over 60 meters on the opposite side. Much of the funding to build it has come from the John Cockerill Foundation.
The larger part of the artwork is made of up three equally long sections. The idea is to give drivers the sense that they are driving through the curved semi-circle.
Venet’s artworks are usually named after their mathematical compositions, referencing the degree of the angle or curve that determines the sculpture’s form.
This is not Venet’s first sculpture in a highway setting. He already constructed a 20 meter tall work of art on a roundabout in the German city of Bonn in 2016. Called Arc ’89, it commemorates the fall of the Berlin Wall and Germany’s reunification.
“There are higher monuments in the world, but no bigger sculpture made by an artist,” a spokesman for Venet said on Monday. “The Statue of Liberty without its pedestal is smaller and the Corcovado [Rio’s Christ the Redeemer statue] is half the size.”