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La Grande Vitesse, Grand Rapids

4.2
#27 of 59 in Things to do in Grand Rapids
Landmark · Hidden Gem · Tourist Spot
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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. Popularly referred to as simply "the Calder", since its installation in 1969 it has come to be a symbol of Grand Rapids, and an abstraction of it is included in the city's official logo.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", in contrast to his mobiles. 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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La Grande Vitesse reviews

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TripAdvisor
  • Grand Rapids has their plaza busy with Festival of the Arts in the heat of the summer. Many celebrations going on through out the year. The bright orange/red calder statue is a sight to see. 
    Grand Rapids has their plaza busy with Festival of the Arts in the heat of the summer. Many celebrations going on through out the year. The bright orange/red calder statue is a sight to see.  more »
Google
  • This is an awesome place to catch a festival, live music, art work, or just capture some straight up “cool” photos. Taking a stroll downtown at night is a pretty neat thing. I would recommend stopping by to see this landmark and capture a few other visually appealing sites within the vicinity. It will not disappoint. Enjoy!
  • Great public art in the plaza. Nice to photograph during the blue hour on a summer evening. Don't miss the Tire Swing sculpture in the corner of the plaza as well.

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