Louis Chevrolet Sculpture Unveiled in La Chaux-de-Fonds
- Switzerland’s largest steel bust inaugurated
- Sculpture described as “significant contribution” to region’s cultural heritage
- Abstract work was commissioned on occasion of Chevrolet’s brand centennial
LA CHAUX-DE-FONDS, October 3, /PRNewswire/ – A large metal sculpture in honor of automotive pioneer Louis Chevrolet, co-founder of the Chevrolet brand, was unveiled and inaugurated in the Swiss city of La Chaux-de-Fonds, today.
The abstract work was commissioned on the occasion of the car brand’s 100 year jubilee in November 2011. Today, it was formally handed over to Louis Chevrolet’s native city by Dr. Thomas Sedran, President and Managing Director of Chevrolet Europe.
The sculpture is an inverted bust of Louis Chevrolet. Created by Geneva-based artist Christian Gonzenbach and made of mirror-polished stainless steel, it is the largest of its kind in Switzerland, with a height of over five meters and a weight of 8 tons.
“Chevrolet is known as one of the most iconic American car brands around the world. The man who established it more than 100 years ago spent the first years of his life here in La Chaux-de-Fonds. We are proud to pay tribute to our Swiss roots and our links with Louis Chevrolet’s birthplace by handing over this unique work of art to the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds,” Sedran said.
The unveiling and hand-over was attended by representatives of the city’s government and Chevrolet as well as residents living around Parc de l’Ouest, where the sculpture was erected a few days ago.
“We are delighted to receive this very special artwork,” said Théo Huguenin-Elie, city councilor and head of La Chaux-de-Fond’s urban planning department. “The Louis Chevrolet sculpture is a landmark and represents a significant, emotionally engaging contribution to the region’s cultural heritage. It will give us ample opportunity to communicate about one of our city’s famous sons as well as the creative forces that La Chaux-de-Fonds has set in motion and that have had an impact around the globe,” Huguenin-Elie said.
Art contest launched in Chevrolet’s centennial year
The sculpture was designed by Christian Gonzenbach who won an artistic competition launched on November 3, 2011 – the American car brand’s 100th anniversary. An international jury composed of representatives of Chevrolet, La Chaux-de-Fonds and the sphere of art selected Gonzenbach’s project as the best of four highly creative entries.
“I am grateful for the confidence that Chevrolet and the city of La Chaux-de-Fonds have placed in me and my project,” Gonzenbach said.
“I am thrilled to have had the opportunity to work on such a scale, and the pioneering spirit of Louis Chevrolet truly motivated me. Louis Chevrolet designed innovative cars and engines and won many races. Suddenly, the impossible seemed entirely possible. And with this project I have done precisely that," the artist from Geneva added.
Ingenuity in art
Featuring a shiny metal surface that is as smooth as glass, the Louis Chevrolet sculpture was cast and welded over the course of twelve months in a specialized foundry in the Taiwanese capital of Taipei.
“The Louis Chevrolet sculpture is the most important public artwork I have created so far. Given the scope and complexity of the project, I realized that I had to think out of the box and create a team of highly skilled people: 3D experts, engineers, founders, welders, polishers and so on. And it worked,” Christian Gonzenbach said.
“Although the sculpture is heavy it looks very light. You never really see the metal; the sculpture’s mirror-polished surface is made up of the reflections of the surroundings. The color changes constantly, with each cloud that passes. It is really fascinating.”
The exterior of the 8-ton sculpture is made up of 71 sheets of high-grade stainless steel. Inside, a framework consisting of metal rods and beams provides structural stability. The bottom section of the rods also acts as fixation points and is anchored in the sculpture’s foundation.
The sculpture rests on a 28 cm high pedestal made of black-colored concrete. Its fixation points extend through the base to the foundation, securing the artwork safely to the ground. The artwork is located in La Chaux-de-Fond’s Parc de l’Ouest. The assignment was managed by Friederike Schmid, an experienced project manager for site-specific art projects.
La Chaux-de-Fonds is an important Swiss watchmaking center and a UNESCO world heritage site Other famous personalities born in La Chaux-de-Fonds include renowned architect and designer Le Corbusier and nineteenth- century novelist Blaise Cendrars.
Louis Chevrolet sculpture – timeline
- October 2011 Selection of Parc de l’Ouest as future location of artwork
- November 3, 2011 Announcement of art contest at Chevrolet’s Centennial press conference in La Chaux-de-Fonds
- March 2012 Announcement of winner of artistic contest
- July 2012 Production starts in Taiwanese foundry
- April 2013 Start of refurbishment works in Parc de l’Ouest
- August 6 2013 Sculpture leaves Taiwan
- September 2013 Arrival of Louis Chevrolet sculpture in Rotterdam
- October 3, 2013 Unveiling and hand-over in La Chaux-de-Fonds
Founded in 1911 in Detroit, Chevrolet is the world’s fourth largest car brand with annual sales of almost 5 million cars and trucks in more than 140 countries. Chevrolet provides customers with fuel-efficient vehicles that feature spirited performance, expressive design, high quality and Chevrolet MyLink intelligent connectivity. Its European line-up includes the Spark and Aveo city cars, the Trax small SUV, the compact Cruze, the Orlando family van, the Captiva compact SUV, the Malibu mid-size sedan, the legendary Camaro and Corvette sports cars and the extended-range Volt electric car. For more information visit chevroleteurope.com or media.chevroleteurope.com.
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