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Bernar Venet

In pictures: the making of Europe’s largest public sculpture

Bernar Venet’s vast steel arc has been installed on a Belgian motorway

Work takes place on Arc Majeur Image: courtesy of the artist

A colossal sculpture by the French artist Bernar Venet, described as Europe’s largest public sculpture, has been unveiled in Belgium.

The 250-ton steel sculpture, called Arc Majeur, has been installed on either side of the E411 motorway in Lavaux-Sainte-Anne in Belgium between Namur and Luxembourg. Motorists are under the impression that they are driving through the all-encompassing sculptural arc.

Image: courtesy of the artist

“It is a tour de force of engineering,” Venet tells us. “We had to close the highway completely for two days while we installed 2,800 tons of concrete, it’s not like making a watercolour. But motorists seem to like it, they’re saying it’s cool and something very positive, like two arms going up to the sky.”

Image: courtesy of the artist

The piece, made from two sweeping arcs, was realised more than 35 years after it was embraced and then rejected by the French government.

Bernar Venet with pieces of the unassembled Arc Majeur Image: courtesy of the artist

The vast piece is in two parts: a large arc made up of three sections measuring 20m each and reaching 60m in height, installed on one side of the road, while on the other side there is a smaller arc, measuring 28m. The €2.5m work is largely funded by the John Cockerill Foundation, the philanthropic arm of the mechanical engineering conglomerate based in Seraing, Belgium.

Arc Majeur in situ