In the sleepy village of Milly-la-Forêt, France, lies a monstrous, whimsical monument called Le Cyclop. Measuring almost 75 feet high, the unusual sculpture took over 20 years years to complete by Swiss artist Jean Tinguely. With the help of his wife Niki de Saint Phalle and various friends Arman, César, Daniel Spoerri and JR Soto, the husband and wife team resurrected the piece out of a chaos of 300 tons of industrial debris—metal, concrete, ceramic mosaic, stones—mirrors and a waterfall.
Started in 1969, and completed in 1991, three years after the sculptor’s death, the work is the property, since 1987, of the French government, which has been responsible for its protection.
Le Cyclop is at once an account of a one-off group adventure and a place that has no equivalent, where all the arts intermingle, a grandiose résumé of what Niki de Saint Phalle called “Jean’s dream”.
Visitors are invited to explore the complexity of the piece via a network of staircases and catwalks.
Know Before You Go
To find the sculpture, drive or cycle to the northwest of town on the Avenue de Ganay (D948) and turn left at the roundabout onto the D837. A sign marks the turnoff to the right into the forest. You’ll need to leave your car at the parking lot and walk along a wide cycle path for about three minutes. A sign on the left leads to the sculpture, barely visible through the trees, and surrounded by a tall security gate.