Los Angeles 12/28/2012 4:23:26 AM
News / Art

Paris Puts a Hold on the Pope

In the capital of France, Paris metro passes to the city's major sights and attractions have provided access to wonders of art and design like the Louvre and Eiffel Tower. One potential object of interest, however, has been kept from the public's eye. The French government has failed to find to find a place in the French capital for a statue dedicated to Pope John Paul II. 

The bronze statue, weighing in excess of 1.5 tons and designed by Russian artist Zurab Tseretli, has been in possession of the French government for three years. 

The monument to the Pope stands 3.6 meters high and has been in the hands of French authorities allegedly because of a dispute between the Polish Catholic mission and the Paris Mayor's Office as to where the statue should be placed. 

The Rector of the Polish mission in France, Msgr. Jez, contends a report in Le Figaro in 2010, has proposed to place the monument at the Polish Church of Notre-Dame de l’Assomption, accessible with Paris Metro passes

The statue would be placed on the steps of the worship space, and Paris authorities wouldn't have had to contribute any funding to the project. But, local officials precluded the offering, citing that the statue would have to first be considered by a committee of art in the city. 

The committee eventually convened in April of 2012 only to conclude, according to Le Figaro, that for aesthetic reasons the statue of Pope John Paul II was not cohesive enough with the architectural style of the Notre-Dame de l’Assomption worship space. 

The decision by the committee met with consternation from Church leaders like Msgr. Stanislaw Jez who believed that the artist had designed and executed the sculpture to fit comfortably with the intended space. 

Though city officials deny such claims, observers of the conflict including Le Figaro, suggested that the city's resistance was in fact more because of religious reasons than aesthetic. 

“John Paul II was an extraordinary man, full of charisma, a diplomat who came to France several times. In my opinion, being against this project reveals a clear ideological obstacle," Msgr. Stanislaw Jez said.

The statue has been locked away in a cellar in the city in the meantime. Subsequently, 5,000 local residents have signed a petition demanding that the city officials find a suitable home for the artwork in Paris. 

Tsereteli has erected another statue to John Paul II currently found in Ploermel, located in the northwest region of France. The French government awarded him several years in the past the highest honor in the country: the Legion of Honor. The city holds a special place for the sculptor, serving as a significant in his artistic development. During the 1960s, the artist counted luminaries such as Marc Chagall and Pablo Picasso as friends.

Now 78 years old, the Tsereteli, has created some of his homeland's most scrutinized sculpting. His monument to Tsar Peter the Great on the Moscow River, just south of the Kremlin, is impossible to miss. Reaching nearly 100 meters high, it was installed in 1997 in recognition of the 300 years since the establishment of the Russian Navy, costing supposedly anywhere from $11 to $20 million of public funds. 

In addition to the works in Russia, he has created public objects of art that are found in major metropolises across the globe, including Rome, Tokyo, New York, Damascus and Montevideo. His most notable works commemorate historic figures, children, Holocaust victims, cosmonauts, and human rights activists. At least five U.S. cities passed on his prodigious sculpture of Christopher Columbus before it found a permanent home on the island of Puerto Rico.