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Art Overtakes Paris Avenue

April 21, 1996|MARILYN AUGUST | Associated Press

PARIS — The French capital has transformed its grandest avenue into a sprawling sculpture garden.

From Auguste Rodin's monumental rendition of the novelist Honore de Balzac to Niki de Saint-Phalle's fanciful and fat "Nana," 50 sculptures by some of the century's greatest names in art are on display on the Champs-Elysees.

Pieces by Picasso, Dubuffet, Maillol and Giacometti are among works set on wooden platforms and spotlighted at night. The show is called "Les Champs de la Sculpture" (The Fields of Sculpture).

The $1.5-million show, financed by the city and 15 private sponsors, travels to Japan after it closes June 9.

Stretching half a mile from the Rond-Point des Champs-Elysees to the Place de la Concorde, it celebrates the completion of the thoroughfare's five-year, $45-million beautification project.

The show is also an attempt to spruce up the image of the lower half of the Champs-Elysees, a quiet, tree-lined haven that in the 18th and 19th centuries was the spot to be seen for the nation's burgeoning middle class. In recent years, however, it's become a deserted stretch that most pedestrians have sought to avoid.

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