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Sculptures along the Nations Cultural Trail

Hidden among plants, lying in mid-water or standing proudly in the centre of a park, these sculptures invite us to stop along the way.

Les Quatre Races

© LDD

Paul Landowski, 1937
Place Albert-Thomas

Standing at the centre of the Place Albert- Thomas, Les Quatre Races (The Four Races), a granite monument by Paul Landowski was erected in 1937. It represents workers from different trades and continents. It is to this French artist of Polish origin, Paul Landowski, that we owe the Wall of the Reformers (1909-1917, with Henri Bouchard) in Geneva's Parc des Bastions, as well as the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer (1931) on the Corcovado in Rio de Janeiro.

Les Floralies

© M. Levet

Dolores Blasco, 1968
Collection Fonds d’art contemporain de la Ville de Genève
Botanical Garden

The sculptures that are waiting to be discovered amidst the luxuriant vegetation of the gardens belong for the most part to the Contemporary Art Fund of the City of Geneva. Decorating the access to the play area, we find Les Floralies, a piece by Dolores Blasco sculpted in 1968 and commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Conservatory and Botanical Gardens. Its style borders on abstraction, but the piece’s forms coil and uncoil with apparently natural fluidity, evoking a flower, a tulip perhaps, or possibly a rosebud.

Christine Z II

© LDD

1982 (mold); 1987 (cast)
Collection Fonds d’art contemporain de la Ville de Genève
Botanical Garden

Behind the Villa Le Chêne, a young, slender, naked woman stands out against the background of a maple tree: Christine Z II. Swiss sculptor Heinz Schwartz was fascinated by adolescence. Geneva has two examples of his elongated figures, as distant from each other as they are attractive: La Clémentine in the Place du Bourg-de-Four and Christine Z II in the Botanical Gardens. Although the artist took his inspiration from models, he reworks his sculptures in order to draw attention from their personality and heighten an ideal beauty. Those strolling along the Quai Wilson cannot fail to notice – if they are not already familiar with it – The Child and the Horse, by the same sculptor.

The Honsen-ji Bell

© LDD

Gardens of the Ariana Museum

A surprising object awaits those who stroll through the grounds of the Ariana: a bell! Its history is the stuff of novels. Loaned by Japan for the World Exhibition of 1867 in Paris, it was subsequently stolen. Gustave Revilliod, a Swiss patron of the arts, found it by chance at the Rüestchi foundries in the Canton of Aarau and installed it near the Ariana Museum. When the League of Nations was set up in 1919, some Japanese diplomats recognised it: cast for the Honsen-ji temple in Shinagawa, in the outskirts of Tokyo in 1657, it had disappeared towards the end of 1867, after the temple burned down. Switzerland returned the bell in 1930, but sixty years later, this act was rewarded: Junna Nakada, the son of the man who had negotiated the return of the original bell to Japan, offered a replica to Geneva. This copy of the Buddhist devotional bell has been hanging since 1991 in the gardens of the Ariana Museum.

Fresque de la Paix

© R. Gindroz

Hans Erni, 2009 and 2012
Place des Nations

The two walls encircling the entrance to the Palais des Nations, and its majestic avenue of flags of the UN member countries, are decorated with the Fresque de la Paix (Fresco of Peace) by Swiss artist Hans Erni. This monumental work, commissioned from the artist by the City of Geneva, consists of three ceramic frescoes, each around 30 m long and 2 m high, composed of large stoneware tiles made by François Ruegg from the master’s original paintings. Peace, Love, Justice and Liberty have always been among Hans Erni’s favoured themes. In the fresco you can see familiar figures such as doves, as well as men and women walking, the wind, curves, water and the sky.

Broken Chair

© R. Gindroz

Daniel Berset, 1997
Place des Nations

Broken Chair, a 12 metre high monumental work by the sculptor Daniel Berset dominates the Place des Nations. It was created in 1997 at the request of Handicap International as an appeal to all nations to sign the Anti-Personnel Mine Ban Convention in Ottawa in December 1997. Ratified at the time by 40 countries, the Ottawa Treaty came into force on 1 March 1999, becoming an international legal instrument. Originally only meant to be exhibited for three months, Broken Chair was such a success that it is still in place today. Standing on three legs, the fourth being shattered halfway, it evokes the fate of anti-personnel mine victims and calls on States to commit themselves to banning cluster munitions.

L’Effort humain

© M. Levet

James Vibert, 1935
Parc William Rappard

Standing among remarkable trees – cedars of Lebanon, Arizona blue cypresses and English oaks – is L’Effort humain (Human Effort), a large-scale sculpture created by the Genevan artist James Vibert in 1935. This artist’s oeuvre is marked by the Symbolist movement and the influence of Rodin can be felt in his group compositions. The contours are smooth, the contrasts heightened and one can sense the crushing of the material bordering on distortion. Vibert’s work emphasises its material as a basis to attain the symbolic and exploits all its possibilities to produce his sculpture.

Untitled

© M. Levet

Paola Junqueira, 1993 – 1994
Collection Fonds d’art contemporain de la Ville de Genève

Parc Barton
Below the Villa Lammermoor, a pinkish-orange building which today houses the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies, rises the tall vertical sculpture by Paola Junqueira. Designed for the “Climats 93” exhibition and purchased by the City of Geneva in the same year, it is dedicated to children. The artist’s intention was, in her own words, for “each child to have a ‘tree’ in his or her life, in order to reinforce the dialogue between people and nature”.

Figures enlacées

© LDD

Laurent-Dominique Fontana, 1985
Collection Fonds d’art contemporain de la Ville de Genève
Former Perle du Lac landing stage

By the former Perle du Lac landing stage,  Figures enlacées (Entwined Figures) by Laurent-Dominique Fontana, roughly sculpted from giallo dorato marble, lie in the water, still anchored to the block of stone from which they were extracted, united in a single mass. This artwork comes from the second artistic period of the sculptor, strongly marked by people and the fragility of the human condition, their solitude sometimes, or, as here, their love. Fontana likes to select surprising sites for his statues, transforming the way passers-by view an ordinary place, integrating the environment into the artwork. Moreover, the naked, entwined figures aroused a certain amount of controversy when first installed in 1985.

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