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Fabulous Street and Public Art in Monaco

I have family living in the south of France, almost on the border with Monaco. Over the years, I have come to know the area well.

Sign at the border of Monaco, in both French and Monagasque

Sign at the border of Monaco, in both French and Monagasque

Monaco for Art Lovers

Everyone thinks of Monaco as a glitzy, glamorous destination and I can't deny that in many or most ways it is. However there is a lot more to Monaco than the Monte Carlo casino and the F1 Grand Prix motor race. All these things are enjoyable but why not try enjoying the art there is always on offer along with spotting Aston Martins and Lamborghinis.

Of course there are a number of art galleries and museums in Monaco but visiting them, though most enjoyable, means planning and taking time out from your day. You can still enjoy some forms of art when you're there by noticing the street art, statues and sculptures that you can see at every turn, and which add another level of enjoyment to your visit.

If you find yourself there, take the opportunity to walk through the many and beautifully tended gardens, Monaco isn't very large after all, and enjoy the sculptures and art installations which can be found at every turn. Some of it is permanent but there are very frequent temporary exhibitions too. You will not be bored, I'm sure I can guarantee that.

"Unchain my heart", a large eagle sculpture covered in chainmail

"Unchain my heart", a large eagle sculpture covered in chainmail

Art and the Environment

An Environmental Art Exhibition

An example of the sort of temporary exhibition you might find around Monaco was the 2009 Eco Art Parade. Each artist or group taking part was provided with an identical white model of an eagle which they then modified to raise awareness of the plight of Bonelli's Eagle in whatever way they saw fit.

Bonelli's Eagle is an endangered species having become increasingly rare during the last century. It lives in the Mediterranean regions as well as in India, China and Indonesia. In France, at the time of the exhibition, there were only 29 breeding pairs which meant it was the most endangered species in France.

Entries came from a diverse range of artists, from the very well known to schools. There were some stunning examples of the interpretation of the theme. The one pictured here, an eagle covered in chain-mail, was called "Unchain My Heart".

Another temporary exhibition showed Damien Hirst's works. That ran from April to September 2010. Unfortunately I didn't see that one in person.

55 Eagles

Do watch the video - it's amazing to see how the artists all interpreted the same theme so differently!

Manolo Valdes, Spanish Artist

The series of monumental heads created by Manolo Valdes was inspired by Henri Matisse's paintings of women in hats. There were seven altogether in the Casino gardens (Jardins des Boulingrins) with another five in St Tropez.

He has continued to create works of a similar nature and recently (2013) he held an exhibition at the New York Botanical Gardens.

Anna Chromy

Anna Chromý is an artist, born in what is now the Czech Republic, brought up in Austria, living in France and working in Italy. Her international life seems ideally suited to Monaco's international status and indeed we can find some beautiful examples of her work there.

The first I found was Ulysses, the hero of Homer's Odyssey and The Iliad. It looks out over Port Hercule by the Yacht Club and looks stunning against the blue of the sky and the Mediterranean Sea. It has, I believe, been there since 2011 but I have to admit I didn't notice it until 2014. I put it down to the major building works connected to the new Yacht Club.


Looking out over the bay of Monte Carlo towards Cap Martin is Ulysses, a sculpture by Anna Chromy.

Looking out over the bay of Monte Carlo towards Cap Martin is Ulysses, a sculpture by Anna Chromy.

The Cloak of Conscience

The Cloak of Conscience is a massive work made out of a single piece of marble, the same Carrara marble used by Italian Renaissance sculptors such as Michelangelo. The finished piece is almost as tall as Michelangelo's David. Its inspiration, according to anna Chromy, was a quote by Einstein which says, "The most beautiful experience we can have is the mysterious".

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There are copies of the Cloak of Conscience throughout Europe where they have different names such as "Coat of Peace" in Salzburg and Athens. In May this year, 2014, a more or less man-sized copy was given to Monaco where it was placed in the Palace Gardens. However everyone can now marvel at it outside the Grimaldi Forum, by the sea, something that Anna Chromy feels would be impossible in another unsupervised public place: a testimony to the safety and security of Monaco.

The Cloak of Conscience, a massive sculpture in white marble by Anna Chromy.

The Cloak of Conscience, a massive sculpture in white marble by Anna Chromy.

All right, there is more to Monaco

In the end I couldn't resist showing at least some of the side of Monaco that most people expect to see, so the next set of photos will do just that. There is no doubt that it is a spectacular place in so many ways.

Monaco Bay at night

Monaco Bay at night

Prince's Palace illuminated at night with  lights from a summer fair in the foreground

Prince's Palace illuminated at night with lights from a summer fair in the foreground

If You Can Travel to Monaco

The article, 10 Tips on Making the Most of Monaco, should give you some ideas of where to go and what to see, and hints and tips on how to make the best use of your time (and money) when in the principality.

Just a few of the upcoming events in Monaco which you can combine with "art spotting" are:

  • 19 March - 10 April 2016 Spring Arts Festival
  • 9 - 17 April 2016 Monte Carlo Rolex Masters tennis
  • 13 - 15 May 2016 Historic Grand Prix for vintage racing cars
  • 29 May 2016 Monaco Grand Prix F1
  • 25 June 2016 Monte-Carlo International Show Jumping
  • 25 July International Fireworks Competition and for the following Saturdays
  • 28 September 2016 26th Monaco Yacht Show

Do enjoy your time in Monaco, and maybe come back and tell me about what you saw?

Have you ever been to Monaco?

Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on August 22, 2012:

No but it does look beautiful. Interesting about the eagles decorated by artists, they did that here in Connecticut with whales. Then each was auctioned off for charity.

lesliesinclair on August 06, 2012:

No, haven't been there, but enjoyed your take on it.

cmadden on July 19, 2012:

Never been . . . maybe some day!

JoshK47 on June 10, 2012:

Can't say that I have, but I certainly would love to visit! :)

SheilaMilne (author) from Kent, UK on June 06, 2012:

@anonymous: It's Damien Hirst's work, I think, which was part of an exhibition of several of his pieces in Monaco from April to September 2010.

anonymous on June 06, 2012:

We visited monaco in 2010 and saw a huge nude statue of a pregnant woman over looking Monaco Bay. Cannot find anything about it on the Internet. Could anyone help me identify it and provide some history of it? Camille

Gala98 on May 30, 2012:

I had a day trip to Monaco maybe 30yrs ago! I sure wasn't looking at art in those days :P Would love to go back & now I would keep my eyes open for the art all around. Nice lens, thank you

Mary Beth Granger from O'Fallon, Missouri, USA on May 30, 2012:

Very cool...I would of never thought of Monaco for art. I have visited the Casino there on a cruise stop several years ago.

anonymous on May 30, 2012:

So very interesting art.

HenkWillemse on May 30, 2012:

I haven't been to Manoco, but I would love to visit. Thanks for the great article.

randomthings lm on May 29, 2012:

I have not been to Monaco, but it looks beautiful. Thanks for putting this together and sharing.

Treasures By Brenda from Canada on May 29, 2012:

Great images & wonderful that they are your own. Thanks for sharing a bit of Monaco that I didn't know about.

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