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La Grande Vitesse, Grand Rapids
(4.4/5 based on 40 reviews on the web)
La Grande Vitesse, a public sculpture by American artist Alexander Calder, is located on the large concrete plaza surrounding City Hall and the Kent County Building in Grand Rapids, Michigan, United States.HistoryThe sculpture was the first public art work funded by the Art in Public Places program of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). Fabricated in Tours, France and assembled on the plaza, the steel sculpture is 43 feet tall, 54 feet long, and 30 feet wide, and weighs 42 tons. It is painted in Calder's signature bright red. The title is French for “the great swiftness”, which can also be translated as "grand rapids".Calder’s design for La Grande Vitesse was consistent with other monumental sculptures he was commissioned to create during this period in his career. He dubbed these works “stabiles,” a counterpart to his mobiles. Whereas a mobile’s motion is generated by air currents, a stabile activates a viewer’s motion. The sculpture is a popular gathering place for residents and tourists alike, and it is the centerpiece of the city’s annual Festival of the Arts.A panel of local officials and nationally recognized art experts selected Calder for the commission in 1967. After Calder was chosen and residents learned of his plans, a controversy ensued. Opponents wrote letters to the editor and created songs and cartoons deriding the sculpture, and advocates used the mayor’s bully pulpit and public service television to call attention to Calder’s credentials and vision. La Grande Vitesse was formally dedicated on June 14, 1969, and has since become a popular civic symbol.
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Reviews
TripAdvisor
  • Placed in 1969 in the city center plaza, the Grand Rapids namesake Calder was the first NEA sponsored public sculpture in the U.S. While controversial at the time, it has now become the symbol of the ...  more »
  • If you enjoy large, bright, impressive outdoor sculpture, you will love La Grand Vitesse. Calder placed this unique work in a large city square in Grand Rapids, and it has been the inspiration and cen...  more »
  • This is one of the largest Calder sculptures and is open to view on the plaza. For years my office looked out on this wonder and I never fully appreciated it at the time but now do. 
Google
  • Pick a good day for your stereotypical Grand Rapids photo. This piece of artwork is so beautiful.
  • Beautiful. Great spot for Art prize.
  • Looks great all the time!
  • Iconic symbol of Grand Rapids
  • Weird