Can you spot the differences?

Tuileries Garden. September 12, 2011.
Tuileries Garden. February 4, 2012.
Here are two photos taken five months apart from approximately the same spot in the Tuileries Garden - can you spot the differences? Please click on the photos to enlarge, if necessary.

If you have an astute eye, you probably already noticed the empty chairs facing away from the fountain rather than towards it, the bare trees and people wearing jackets instead of short sleeves. But keep looking - there's another difference, although you may need to use a magnifying lens to see it. If you look very closely, it's possible to discern a white obelisk in the top photo. I think you would agree, wouldn't you, that it's remarkable only to those with a keen sense of observation?

That's exactly what I thought when I noticed, yet didn't really notice, the colossal object during my feeding frenzy on September 12. As I passed through the garden, I remember being slightly annoyed that there was an obstruction blocking the quickest route to a big scoop of Berthillon ice cream. Snapping a photo and muttering under my breath about strange structures, I took an alternate path and promptly forgot about it as soon as I tasted my luscious peach sorbet.

That is, I forgot about it until I received a brief email from Joseph last night asking if I had seen Argentine artist Adrián Villar Rojas's sculpture, "Poem for Earthlings" in the Tuileries Garden last fall. Scratching my head and reviewing my photos, I realized that I had seen the 300 feet long extraterrestrial toothpick without understanding its significance. The work of art, which I mistakenly viewed as a hindrance, was destroyed as planned on October 24. After rushing from here to there this week, I'm particularly grateful for the reminder to live in the present moment and appreciate the beauty that surrounds me in Paris instead of thinking about what lies ahead, even if it is Berthillon ice cream!

Did anyone else see Adrián Villar Rojas's creation? The sculpture was on display for less than two months.

Many thanks to Joseph for sending me the link for "Argentine Artist Sticks a Massive Extraterrestrial Toothpick Into Paris's Tuileries Gardens". The slideshow of photos at the top of the article shows the sculpture from different angles.

The end of the extraterrestrial toothpick is barely visible on the left side of this photo.


  1. That's some good humor (no pun intended, really) Mary Kay, really good. And it's so true, we have to slow down and live in the present but I would think you already do a pretty good job at that anyway, if not 100% of the time, certainly over 75%. Yes?

    And it looks that the fountain is somewhat frozen over, yes? Still that could in Paris.

    1. Yes, the fountain was partially frozen. I posted some other photos of it and the Tuileries Garden during the freezing weather that we had at the beginning of Feb but it was when you were nice and warm in Mexico.

      As for living in the present, I try and sometimes succeed. The pace of life in Paris is so much faster than what I'm used to that it's more of a challenge for me here than elsewhere.

      Thanks again for sending the article!

  2. What a shame it wasn't there longer. It looks amazing.

    1. Yes, and then I would have had the opportunity to look at it as art and not as an obstruction!

  3. I LOVE the last photo on this post. It's absolutely stunning. And yes, I saw that sculpture. One hot day in September (as we were running to the Raspail market of course), we went through the Tuileries and this THING was blocking our way. To be honest, it just annoyed me (as it did you) and I had no idea it was a piece of art! More signage Paris! I thought it was some weird plumbing thing for the Tuileries. Hah. Kristen the Plumber.

  4. Dear Kristen the Plumber, That's so funny that you had the same reaction to the sculpture as me! Because of its position on the fountain, I also remember wondering if it was some sort of pipe. I just thought that it was really odd and inconvenient. I agree that we need more signs!

    I haven't been to the Raspail market yet but reading about it on your blog has made me think that I really need to get there soon.

  5. Viewing this as an obstacle reminds me of the Richard Serra controversy many years back with his large rolled metal sculpture called "Titled Arc". It was put up in front of a government building in NYC (or DC) and the people who worked in the building hated it so much because it blocked a direct entry into the building--they had to walk completely around it to get inside. There was a great legal dispute about it and eventually the piece was removed and installed no where else. it's view as obstacle won over the view of art.

    1. Thanks for sharing this story. With all due respect to Adrián Villar Rojas, I'm not sure that I would have viewed his sculpture any differently had I known that it was a work of art. Perhaps it's partially because of where it was placed in the Tuileries. I think that I would have had a more favorable reaction to it if it hadn't blocked my path.

  6. I too viewed it as an annoyance and it DOD block the view (and the way....) - and I also do not think that we have to like it just because it's called art! I don't like Damian Hurst's stuff nor anything else that gives me the shivers; I want art to give me joy, pleasure, hilarity or that it provokes thoughts and feelings - but what on earth would I do with a giant toothpick in one of my most favourite gardens.....
    I DO love, love, love that last photo - I would just crop off the toothpick lurking :)
    Thanks for your always wonderful articles and photos.

  7. Well, I guess that it could be said that the giant toothpick provoked some feelings, mainly annoyance! ;)

    I didn't think that I was familiar with Damien Hirst but after seeing some google images, I realized that I have seen his work. It's definitely not my cup of tea! The one of the splayed open sheep reminds me of Rembrandt's "Flayed Ox". I spent quite a bit of time studying it while I was at the Louvre last week.

    Thanks for your comment about the last photo. I'll take your advice and crop off the toothpick!


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