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La Grande Vitesse, Grand Rapids

4.3
#6 of 7 in Sightseeing in Grand Rapids
Landmark Tourist Spot
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 Traveler Rating
48 reviews
Google
4.5
TripAdvisor
  • When the structure (stabile?) was first put upthe votes were not all in as to whether this would be a good addition to downtown GRR ... but after 40+ years it has become a welcoming sight for those of...  more »
  • This monumental sculpture by Calder is located in downtown Grand Rapids and it is an icon associated with the city. It is located in a large plaza. This plaza is used for many events during the spring...  more »
  • Nice big sculpture of Calder, from the great series sculptures such as they are in Paris, Los Angeles and Chicago
    View original
Google
  • Pick a good day for your stereotypical Grand Rapids photo. This piece of artwork is so beautiful.
  • Beautiful. Great spot for Art prize.
  • A must see, this just shows how far ahead the city is.
  • Looks great all the time!
  • It is kinda shaped like the ArtPrize logo if you tip your head left.

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Where to stay in Grand Rapids

Only five hotels provide lodging downtown, but each charms its guests with a distinctive character. A small collection of bed and breakfasts and inns populate Old Town. These hotels are a five-minute walk from the city's main attractions, top restaurants, and conference centers, so they tend to fill up fast. Book a room early to ensure you get the lodging of your choice. There are also hotel chains near the airport and in residential areas; public transport and taxi service link these to the city's downtown.
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