Sunday, October 31, 2010

Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween!




Happy Halloween _9162

Happy Halloween _9157

Happy Halloween _9156

"My Scissors ... Here In My Bag" - Impression of Alfano's "Cyrano de Bergerac"

Italian composer Franco Alfano's Cyrano de Bergerac made its San Francisco Opera premiere this season, featuring the legendary tenor Plácido Domingo, who made his local debut in 1969.  I saw the performance on 30 October.

It was very gratifying to hear and observe that Maestro Domingo was in full command of his still beautiful and powerful voice and possessed noble stage presence at the age of 69.  He also had wonderful colleagues, most memorable was the soprano Ainhoa Arteta who had a vibrant, beautiful and full voice and a lovely woman and a natural actress.

However, the opera itself was not satisfying.  Before the show, I tried very much to like the opera, for the unjustly ignored Franco Alfano's sake.  He was mostly known as the person who finished much more famous Giacomo Puccini's Turandot, and often criticized for the alleged bombastic and efficient ending.  What was so unfair here was that his completed ending was seldom performed and his truncated version was undeniably unsubtle.  However, once one got chance to familiarize with his complete version of the ending, the criticism hardly stands.

In this frame of mind, I approached this novelty, which was premiered in 1936 in Rome and was only premiered in the US in 2005, again, sung by Domingo as the title role.

The story of beauty and beast, the inner and outer beauty issue is a fascinating one.  Before music started, we were treated to some backstage business while singers and actors prepared for a show, behind the curtain.  Very promising start.  However, as soon as the opera proper started, the whole show became quite tedious.

The four-act opera was set to the libretto by Henri Caïn, based on Edmond Rostand's drama Cyrano de Bergerac.  The libretto was a paring down of the dense play.  Apparently, the librettist tried to maintain many strands of the popular play, which unfortunately I had neither seen on stage nor read so my inevitable comparison to the play might be somewhat off but I will do my best to be as objective as possible. 

The opera tried to present Cyrano de Bergerac as a poet, a swashbuckler and a lover.  However, due to natural constraint of the opera, we didn't get a clear idea of any of these multiple facets of the character.  Without a reflection of his self-denied passionate love, due to his strange look, like Tristan or Radames in Aida, it was hard to sympathize with his pain and value his noble suffering, and the wonderful duality of his characters were seriously under-developed.

The libretto was very wordy, despite many sword fights it managed to contain and most of these words were set as serious expositions which became aimless and boring fast and thick.  According to SF Opera's program, the play was very suitable to musical comedy.  Judging from the whatever remained, I longed for a comedy/farce in the style of Rossini, Donizetti or Offenbach.  Alfano, instead, gave it a serious treatment and the shifting between farce and serious passion was not nimble and the hybrid result was very unsatisfying.  Those long expositions should be cut much further and whatever remained should be in a Sprechgesang, masterfully employed by Alban Berg or Arnold Schoenberg. When the librettist was not busying feeding us background information, he quoted supposedly Cyrano's writing, which again got noble but all-purpose full lyrical treatment and soon became meaningless again.

There were two passages I can cite as particularly wrong.  When Roxanne went through enemy line to be with her husband, who was about to be killed, she was allowed precious moment to give a detailed description how she passed the enemy line by flashing her loveliest smiles, by claiming to meet her lover, not her husband since that will sure to bring in her own destruction, etc, etc.  Another offensive moment was at the end of the opera, just before the dying Cyrano to see Roxanne for the last time, we had to hear her sing lines like these: "My scissors ... here in my bag."  What was the point of that line?  I had no idea.  It seemed that the editor's scissors were hidden in a bag as well.

Adapting established play or novel is a perilous job.  By nature, it takes much longer time to sing than say the words so an opera based on a play will inevitably lose many fine points.  A good play needs to have strong characterizations and dramatic integrity and can cover a vast ground in a short span.  A good opera needs to have strong characterizations, a clear and easy to follow plot, and is best at expressing outpouring emotions. When I sat through many meaningless (or meaningful in the complete play but less so in the libretto) stretches, I longed for a heightened dramatic situation and bursts of emotions, like those by Verdi, Wagner and Strauss.

We did get two such moments.  One was the famous balcony scene when Cyrano fed words to tongue-tied Christian to woo Roxanne and finally Cyrano pour out his love to Roxanne in concentrated stretch of baring one's soul.  It started with Puccinian lyricism and ended with Straussian eroticism.  The other moment was the dying Cyrano reading the farewell letter he composed for Christian and again, revealed his long suffering and true emotion.  These moments brought the character and the music to sublimity but it was only two long scene and the rest of the evening was not very memorable, music wise.

Sometimes, an equally un-hummable opera could work wonders, like Doktor Faust by Ferruccio Busoni, or The Minotaur by Harrison Birtwistle, as long as they present gripping drama and the music fits the moments on stage.

I could images two ways of setting Cyrano successfully: a) set it as almost play with incidental music and contain as many fine points as possible, as action packed as the original play, therefore, create a milieu of France of 17th century; b) radically cut the plot to the concentrate on the emotions of one, two or even three main characters, particularly their inner thoughts and struggle, instead of a plot hard to follow and too many characters hard to pin down.

Alfano's attempt was noble but the failure was apparent.  There was no denying of that.

Last night's performance was a not a failure, largely due to the wonderful singing, wonderful visual effects and clever staging, however busy or silly at times.

It was a triumph of talent of the cast and the will of one of our most beloved living artist.

It was reported that when San Francisco Opera's general director David Gockley and Domingo discussed projects for San Francisco, Domingo proposed Cyrano and Handel's Tamerlano.  I couldn't understand Gockley's choice of Cyrano but I hope that we still will have chance to hear Mr. Domingo in Tamerlano, which is a true masterpiece. 

The reaction to the performers were very enthusiastic and after 16 years hiatus in a staged role, we welcomed Maestro Domingo's return with true gratitude.  I included two video samples here - one is San Francisco Opera's trailer for Cyrano and the other one how Domingo save an opening night in 1983.  He is a true legend.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Dandelion - An Animation

When I prepared my "The Song of Orpheus" post, I encountered an old flash movie I made many years ago - a rather sweet little animation, which I would like to share with people:

Incidentally, this is my first video post on my YouTube channel: Please stop by!

Friday, October 29, 2010

The Song of Orpheus

My painting "The Song of Orpheus" included many details and fine points that online presentation often rendered them insignificant and I felt a narrative is necessary to make it more understood.

My Orpheus was a collage of a story.  It started with his descend into Hades to seek his beloved Eurydice, traveling on the River Styx.  His lyre, which persuaded Hades and Persephone to let Eurydice return to the earth, dominated the canvas.  It also took a shape of a strange animal, a linkage to Apollo, even.  After he lost Eurydice twice, the grief driven Orpheus refused to entertain Dionysus' followers who ripped him to pieces.  His skull became an oracle and his flesh and bones were tossed into sky, scattered about and filled the universe with his music and joy.

Thus the marriage of Apollonian and Dionysian spirits ushered in a new era.

>> Video presentations of paintings and drawings, Part II: Tips for Artist: Video Presentations

List of Video Presentation of My Artworks

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Two Paintings in Progress

After so many blogs about museums and galleries, I start to think more about my own works. Currently, I'm working on 8 canvases, large and small.

I'm most actively working on two pieces, a semi-abstract landscape painting and another Greek mythology painting, Prometheus Forgotten:

Poppies draft

Prometheus Forgotten draft

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Jennifer Steinkamp at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York

I am not a big fan of video as an art but occasionally, I would be very taken by some hypnotic video art, such as those by William Kentridge or Shirin Neshat.

My visit to Lehmann Maupin Gallery in Chelsea, New York belonged to this selective category.

The time I visited the gallery, it featured videos by Jennifer Steinkamp, whose large scale of videos of ever mutating mass of plastic tubes or foliages were in turn mysterious, seductive and slightly nauseating (particularly those of the industrial scenes).  The sheer size of the screen was enough to make a very strong impression and the overall effect, including the contrast between the man-made and natural world made the show more than a virtuoso display.  From the first video below, which included visitors at various times, one can see the scale of the screen.  From her lenses, we were granted a right to glimpse a world usually unseen and I felt that I was gazing into the mystery of the universe.  Her vision was very grand indeed and he grasp of transitory beauty was breathtaking.

Jennifer Steinkamp, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York _8112

Jennifer Steinkamp, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York _8113

Jennifer Steinkamp, Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York _8114

>> New York City Report, September 2010, Part XX: Arslan: In the Midst of a Single Breath - Dillon Gallery, New York 
New York City Report, September 2010, Part XVIII: David Antonides, Watercolorist in Soho, New York 

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

David Antonides, Watercolorist in Soho, New York

Visiting galleries in Soho and Chelsea was a must when I visited New York.  Soho, unfortunately, in general, has completely lost edge, except some street vendors showing their own tenacious efforts. A happy exception was the Broadfoot and Broadfoot Gallery, which featured many wonderful water-colors by David Antonides

Broadfoot & Broadfoot Gallery, 11 September 2010_8031

Broadfoot & Broadfoot Gallery 2

Broadfoot & Broadfoot Gallery 1

I was very taken by his amazing cityscape watercolors, which were quite opaque and weighty, not the usual lightness one often associated with watercolors.  His works are moody, multiple-layered and evocative.

Int his website, Antonides states that he "was born in Whitehorse, Yukon in 1958, he has studied in Vancouver, Europe and at the Art Students League of New York. His work is focused on watercolor, but in an approach that creates a weight and drama not typical of this soft, light and delicate medium."

The gracious gallery owner described to us how Antonides worked with this media and his special method.  He would soak the paper and put on one layer of watercolor then let it dry completely, then he would add more colors.  Such process of his, enable him to achieve his stated goal:
Watercolor can make a strong statement and be monumental. It can have weight and gravity. I am searching to create mass, weight, and express an alternate, nature of watercolor. I want to explore the contrast between the subtlety of complex color transitions and the strength of dense, robust marks.

>> New York City Report, September 2010, Part XIX: Jennifer Steinkamp at Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York City
<< New York City Report, September 2010, Part XVII: Barry McGee Mural, Soho, New York 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

My Ambivalent Feelings Towards My Own Heritage

Recently, I blogged about three Chinese artist, who had works exhibited in London (Ai Weiwei), San Francisco (Zhang Huan) and New York (Liao Yibai).  In recent years, Chinese artists have taken the world by storm, however not without hype.

I have always approached art products in all forms by Chinese with certain circumspection and too ready to be critical.  I don't believe this was caused by jealousy, at least not by it alone.  Rather, I have very ambivalent feelings towards my own Chinese, and more broadly Asian heritage. 

I am not trying to deny my heritage but simply a little leery of it being exoticized.

When I started to attend San Francisco Opera, I skipped the first offerings of "Madama Butterfly" and "Turandot".  Since then, I have attended both and was glad not to witness a feared spectacle of all Asians gathering together celebrating our heritage, which would have been too much to bear.  However, I didn't hesitate to attend the performance of a seminal Chinese play by the visiting Beijing troupe at Cal Performances.  Perhaps, when the topics touched on Asian heritage, I became more demanding and the artistic hurdle was raised consequently.  I couldn't stand Metropolitan Opera's offering of "The First Emperor" became it was a anthem to tyranny and I couldn't stand San Francisco Opera's "The Bonesetter's Daughter" because the music segment I was able to sample before the premiere was too vulgar.

The latter two operas would not have attracted much attention if the were not set in China and even composed by a Chinese.  This attitude of mine carried me into fine art fields as well.  I fear that some Chinese artists are using the iconography of Cultural Revolution as exotic shop sign and was too obsessed to its trapping for their own artistic growth.

Such attitude of mine sometimes shut me off from my heritage.  I just saw a brilliant movie "Never Let Me Go" which was based on Kazuo Ishiguro's novel of same name.  I didn't realized that it was based on his novel and failed to realize any Japanese sentiment in it, till a friend of mine pointed it out that [spoiler alert] none of the characters in the movie tried to escape their horrible fate.  This was what made this movie most poignant and indeed it connected to Japanese culture.  In British literary, people would not suffer their fates like sacrificial lamps.  Even Jane Austen's heroines rebelled against their trappings.

How blinded I have been.  Or how biased I became due to my rebellion against the culture I grew up in!

I'm always impatient and often hostile to stories about constant women waited in misery for their men to come back to them, with or without ground, with or without hope, such as Madama Butterfly and Penelope.  A writer friend of my claimed that Odessy story was his favorite of all time and however I respect his intelligence, I just cannot see it in the same light.  To me, Clytemnestra and Medea are the heroines deserve compassion.

Liberation Road / 解放路 / Befreiungstraße

Liberation Road © Matthew Felix Sun

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Nobility of the Bailliage of Blois, George Soros and Wen Jiabao

When I examined certain terrible political situations, I was often struck by the inability and ineffectual of some enlightened insiders' attempt to improve the situation and the great weight of societal inertia.

Before the French Revolution, a group nobles, Nobility of the Bailliage of Blois, saw the unsustainable nature of the absolutism and petitioned to grant more rights and voices to the commoners but they failed to prevent the social eruption and perhaps losing their own heads.  Their tragedies were the most poignant amongst that upheaval.  Before the Russian Revolution, nobles like Leo Tolstoy had the notion of enlightening people and sharing wealth amongst all, but, their efforts were just as feeble in the face of selfish or short-sighted political oppositions, indifference and collective inertia.

In modern days, Former Chinese Communist Party Chief Zhao Ziyang and current Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao, championed or is championing, gingerly, a more democratic society with real freedom of speeches, but the hindrances proved as sturdy as the fortress of the Bastille.

The ever-larger income inequality in the US is marching the entire nation towards a precipice.  In the face of a clear and present danger, someone in the upper crest of the society, such as George Soros, Bill Gates and Nancy Pelosi are trying valiantly to stem the redistribution of wealth from the middle- and lower- class to the supremely rich, in order to create a more sustainable social structure.  But the oppositions from deceptive figures like Meg Whitman and Sarah Palin, some ignorant members of Tea Party, and indifferent "independent voters", thwarted their efforts repeatedly and at the brink of decimate such attempts.  If that happens, it would be tragic for the people those enlightened insiders trying to help, and it would be even more tragic for these enlightened insiders if the order of the society collapses and they become personal victims to the situations they had tried to change, either out of selfless compassion or calculated long-term view.  Then the scale their tragedy would mount to Shakespearean.

Leisurely / 悠然 / Gemächlich
Leisurely © Matthew Felix Sun

Friday, October 22, 2010

Barry McGee Mural, Soho, New York 2010

In the Lower East Side neighborhood I stayed last month in New York, there was a large mural which attracted huge amount of attention. Everyday, I saw people snapped up picture and videotaped it.

On the lower one-third of a huge white-washed wall, pink graffiti arabesque of at least the height of four persons, sprawled over unbroken like the style of Cy Twombly.  Upon examining the pictures and video recording, I realized that there were names and other mysterious symbols, though it was too engaging as a whole for me to dive into the details.

From the distance, the monumental mural was alternately sweet, strange, melancholic and even desolate, depending on if and what was moving in front of it and the time of the day or night.

This work by San Francisco born Barry McGee was the best contemporary mural I've ever seen. 

Barry McGee Mural, New York City, 14 September 2010 _8644

Barry McGee Mural, New York City, 14 September 2010 _7990

Barry McGee Mural, New York City, 14 September 2010 _7991

Barry McGee Mural, New York City, 9 September 2010 _7610(m)

Barry McGee Mural, New York City, 9 September 2010 _7613

Barry McGee Mural, New York City, 9 September 2010 _7614

Barry McGee Mural, New York City, 9 September 2010 _7615

Barry McGee Mural, New York City, 9 September 2010 _7611

Barry McGee Mural, New York City, 9 September 2010 _7612

Barry McGee Mural, New York City, 9 September 2010 _7778

Barry McGee Mural, New York City, 9 September 2010 _7777

Barry McGee Mural, New York City, 9 September 2010 _7779

It was mesmerizing and contained tales of a city, or a life.

>> New York City Report, September 2010, Part XVIII: David Antonides, Watercolorist in Soho, New York 
New York City Report, September 2010, Part XVI: Liao Yibai: Real Fake - Mike Weiss Gallery, New York City

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Liao Yibai: Real Fake - Mike Weiss Gallery, New York

Ai Weiwei's sunflower seeds exhibit at Tate Modern reminded me of an exhibit I saw in Mike Weiss Gallery, Chelsea, New York last month.

Real Fake by Liao Yibai, Mike Weiss Gallery, New York _8079

The exhibit, Real Fake, featured artist Liao Yibai's larger-than-life scaled glittering sculptures of commodities such as iPhones, diamond rings, handbags and cash (Chinese currency Renminbi). 

Though, obviously it meant to be a damning take on the (Chinese people's) ever-increasing consumerism, it invited joy and giggle.  The thoughts behind the shining surface was so well sealed behind the metal sheet, that it was largely lost in the initial glances.  It demanded the penetrating cerebral power to see past the superficial attraction.  Unfortunately that concentration was hard to come by in this crowded neighborhood, where visitors tend to gallery hopping.  Most visitors gleefully snap pictures of these whimsical artifacts.  This fault with this set of collection was the same as Tom Otterness's Life Undergroud series.  They meant to criticize but the results seemed rather quite delightful and complimenting. Or a celebration. 

Undeniably, the concept behind the show was interesting but the philosophy didn't come cross as genuine and was just as the title claimed, Real Fake.  This group of work, however interesting, hardly generated any debate and intellectual exchange or meditation therefore didn't much real impact.  Even the criticism struck me as too simplistic and rather a cheap shot.  The show lacked Mr. Ai's profundity and mesmerizing effect.  Execution failed the design, or perhaps the design was the flaw. 

I do like the drawings and designs by Liao.  I also overhead similar sentiments from a fellow visitor.  She understood the value of this exhibit well.

Real Fake by Liao Yibai, Mike Weiss Gallery, New York _8066

Real Fake by Liao Yibai, Mike Weiss Gallery, New York _8067

Real Fake by Liao Yibai, Mike Weiss Gallery, New York _8076

Real Fake by Liao Yibai, Mike Weiss Gallery, New York _8078

>> New York City Report, September 2010, Part XVII: Barry McGee Mural, Soho, New York 2010
<< New York City Report, September 2010, Part XV: Art in Subway Station, New York City

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sunflower Seeds by Ai Weiwei at Tate Modern, London

Chinese conceptual artist Ai Weiwei brought over 100,000,000 sunflower seeds to Tate Modern in London. In the past, Mr. Ai has produced installations, photographs, furniture, paintings, books, and films. He served as artistic consultant on the Beijing's Olympic Stadium - the Bird Nest.  After the 2008 Sichuan earthquake, he took on exposing construction problems of Sichuan schools and the follow up mal-treatments towards anyone raised issues by Chinese government.  He was also in the center of a protest by artists whose studios were seized by local government and developers without due process and he suffered a major injury and had to had a surgery performed on him in Germany.

Like many contemporary Chinese artists, Ai concentrated his energy on the trauma of the political upheavals in last several decades in China and for better or for worse, they seem obsessed with the Cultural Revolution and its aftermath.  Ai is more critical than most, when many seem hold a nostalgic view of Mao's era. His activists efforts, if distracted him from art making, seemed have deepened his thinking. His artwork has always been large scaled and now it gets even bigger. The 100 million tiny sculptures of sunflower seeds were made out of porcelain and hand-painted by skilled artisans in the Chinese city of Jingdezhen. According to Ai that he had painted three and were rejected because they were too "ugly".

Independent report that "The tiny works of art, each hand-painted in porcelain and different from all the others, are collectively called Sunflower Seeds, which is what they have been made to look like. For Ai, their maker – or, at least, the man who had them made – these have a specific significance. During the Cultural Revolution, Chairman Mao, like Louis XIV before him, had himself depicted as the sun, the faces of his 900 million sunflower people turned inexorably to his heliotropic face. At the same time, recalls Ai in an accompanying film, sunflower seeds were the one foodstuff you could be sure of finding during the frequent hungers of Mao’s reign, a token not just of survival but of sociability.

On a political level, the seeds were a symbol of repression; on a human one, they offered a rare opportunity for kindness, the sharing of a tiny plenty. In Ai's art – an art heartily disliked by the current government of the People's Republic of China, whose police have censored his work and arrested and beaten Ai himself – these two opposing sunflowers resolve into one. Sunflower Seeds is both almost pervertedly grand – 150 tons of handcrafted ceramics, covering 1,000 square metres of Tate Modern's floor to a depth of 10cm – and irreducibly simple. Each seed offers a kind of hope – of food, of kindness – and yet each is like a minute (and inedible) stone monument, so that the work is at once both lively and deathly. In those contradictions of massive numbers and individuality, of humility and grandeur, happiness and pain, Sunflower Seeds is like China itself."

Visitors are invited to walk across the surface of the work. It's a sensory and immersive installation, which visitors can touch, walk on and listen to as the seeds shift beneath their feet.  But due to health concern over ceramic dust, visitors are not allowed to walk on these sunflower seeds any more, unfortunately.

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Art in Subway Station, New York City

The "Three Heads, Six Arms" sculpture in San Francisco reminded me of an art show I saw last month in New York's subway 14th Street-8th Avenue station.  In the austere station, there were quite a few whimsical bronze sculptures, big and small, scattered on both sides of the platforms.

New York Subway 11 September 2010 _8118

Scultpure by Tom Otterness, New York Subway 10 September 2010 _7791

From distance, they made the platform like a surreal cartoon movie set. Observing up and close, these figures and objects were quite characteristic and almost real. They were apparently very popular and I was not the only person who snapped pictures.

Sculpture by Tom Otterness, New York Subway 10 September 2010 _7788

Sculpture by Tom Otterness, New York Subway 10 September 2010 _7792

Sculpture by Tom Otterness, New York Subway 10 September 2010 _7796

Sculpture by Tom Otterness, New York Subway 10 September 2010 _7795

Sculpture by 
Tom Otterness, New York Subway 10 September 2010 _7789

At the end, I found the credit and the title of this group - Life Underground, by Tom Otterness.  Further research revealed that these are permanent public art and had a common theme of implied criminality mixed with an undercurrent of social anarchy, despite their cuteness.

Sculpture by Tom Otterness, New York Subway 10 September 2010 _7794

In spite of the often deceptive small scale of individual piece, the entire project took ten years from commissioning to the final completion of the installation.  Quite a feat.  I truly appreciate efforts to bring art and the masses together.  Unfortunately, my media would not allow me such undertaking.  Am I living in the wrong time and working with the wrong materials?  I had to wonder.  Yet, however I wonder, I will continue.

>> New York City Report, September 2010, Part XVI: Liao Yibai: Real Fake - Mike Weiss Gallery, New York City 
New York City Report, September 2010, Part XIV: Neue Galerie New York - Austrian and German Art Gallary

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Three Heads, Six Arms (Nezha), Giant Bronze Scuplture at Civic Plaza, San Francisco

Since May 12, 2010, a giant bronze sculpture has taken its place at San Francisco's Civic Center Plaza. It weights 15-ton and stands 26-foot tall and is called Three Heads, Six Arms - I also call it Nezha, who is a legendary figure in China and indeed had three heads and six arms.

Nezha by Zhang Huan _8734

Nezha by Zhang Huan _8735

Nezha by Zhang Huan _8739

Nezha by Zhang Huan _8738

According to ABC News, "the sculpture reflects images found in traditional Buddhist sculptures. It is nearly three stories high and it weighs 15 tons. Structural engineers were brought in to determine the exact location for the work since there is a parking garage underneath it. The spot for the work had a variance of only 12 inches.

"Chinese artist Zhang Huan is premiering it in San Francisco to celebrate the 30th anniversary of San Francisco's sister city relationship with Shanghai. Huan is considered one of the most influential and provocative contemporary artists working today. He says he had lots of inspirations and began to understand people's cultural and spiritual life in Tibet. He says the sculpture has to create a super nature power to bring good wishes to San Francisco."

It is a tremendous work, not just weight wise.  What struck me most is the seriousness of the facial expressions and they don't resemble anything in my less-enlighten mind as Buddhist but that was the point of it. This sculpture will remain on display through the end of 2011.

The Sculpture

Three Heads Six Arms Dedication Ceremony

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Richard Serra in Grand Palais, Paris

The story of Monet's exhibit in Paris brought back my wonderful visit to the site - Grand Palais.  In June 2008, when I was in Paris, by chance, I learned an exhibit at Grand Palais and I had the chance to visit it twice.  Grand Palais was built for World Expo and has a vast space.  From 2007, Grand Palais started to invite famed artists to fill up the interior, starting with Anselm Kiefer in 2007 and Richard Serra in 2008. It was an amazing exhibit:

Richard Serra, Grand Palais, Paris 2006 - 1

Richard Serra, Grand Palais, Paris 2006 - 2

Richard Serra, Grand Palais, Paris 2006 - 4

Richard Serra, Grand Palais, Paris 2006 - 3

Richard Serra, Grand Palais, Paris 2006 - 5

Richard Serra, Grand Palais, Paris 2006 - 6