Belgium to Unveil a 250-Ton Steel Sculpture—Europe’s Largest Public Artwork—35 Years After France Rejected It

French artist Bernar Venet, creator of Arc Majeur.
French artist Bernar Venet, creator of Arc Majeur.

Without their bases, the Statue of Liberty is 151 feet tall and Rio de Janeiro’s famed Christ the Redeemer measures 98 feet. French artist Bernar Venet is about to best them both with Arc Majeur, a nearly 197-foot-tall sculpture soon to be installed along a Belgian motorway.

The sculpture consists of an arc on each side of the road, the shorter one reaching almost 92 feet, and the larger just shy of 197 feet. Together, they weigh 250 tons and create the impression that motorists are driving through about two-thirds of a circle open to the sky above. After its official unveiling in October, The Art Newspaper reports that Arc Majeur will become Europe’s largest public sculpture.

For Venet, the massive piece of art was a dream deferred for 35 years. French culture minister Jack Lang originally commissioned it in 1984 to be constructed near Auxerre, France, along the A6 motorway (which you can follow about 100 miles northeast to get to Paris). Then a local politician prevented the project from happening. The sculpture came close to construction again in the mid-2000s, but a French highway company wanted it to be painted red, which Venet unequivocally vetoed.

It has finally found a home in the Belgian town of Lavaux-Sainte-Anne along the E411 motorway (which you can take about 60 miles northeast to get to Brussels). Mechanical engineering conglomerate John Cockerill is bearing the financial and physical weight of the operation: Its philanthropic foundation contributed most of the $2.8 million needed for commission and construction, and its workshops built the arcs themselves.

This ain't Venet’s first roadside. According to Artnet News, he also created a 55-foot-tall sculpture called Arc ‘89 for a roundabout in Bonn, Germany, to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall. But Arc Majeur is definitely (and literally) his biggest accomplishment to date. “After more than three decades,” he told The Art Newspaper, “this time it’s for real.”

[h/t The Art Newspaper]

Wayfair’s Fourth of July Clearance Sale Takes Up to 60 Percent Off Grills and Outdoor Furniture


This Fourth of July, Wayfair is making sure you can turn your backyard into an oasis while keeping your bank account intact with a clearance sale that features savings of up to 60 percent on essentials like chairs, hammocks, games, and grills. Take a look at some of the highlights below.

Outdoor Furniture

Brisbane bench from Wayfair

- Jericho 9-Foot Market Umbrella $92 (Save 15 percent)
- Woodstock Patio Chairs (Set of Two) $310 (Save 54 percent)
- Brisbane Wooden Storage Bench $243 (Save 62 percent)
- Kordell Nine-Piece Rattan Sectional Seating Group with Cushions $1800 (Save 27 percent)
- Nelsonville 12-Piece Multiple Chairs Seating Group $1860 (Save 56 percent)
- Collingswood Three-Piece Seating Group with Cushions $410 (Save 33 percent)

Grills and Accessories

Dyna-Glo electric smoker.

- Spirit® II E-310 Gas Grill $479 (Save 17 percent)
- Portable Three-Burner Propane Gas Grill $104 (Save 20 percent)
- Digital Bluetooth Electric Smoker $224 (Save 25 percent)
- Cuisinart Grilling Tool Set $38 (Save 5 percent)

Outdoor games

American flag cornhole game.

- American Flag Cornhole Board $57 (Save 19 percent)
- Giant Four in a Row Game $30 (Save 6 percent)
- Giant Jenga Game $119 (Save 30 percent)

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

In Bordeaux, France, a Former Nazi Submarine Base Has Been Transformed Into a Digital Art Gallery


When it opened on June 10, 2020, the Bassins de Lumières in France became the largest digital art gallery in the world. But history buffs may be more interested in the site's background than the art it contains: Before it became an art gallery, the concrete space held a fleet of Nazi submarines during World War II, Smithsonian reports.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bassins de Lumières's spring 2020 opening date was delayed to June. Now guests can visit and see the works of painters Gustav Klimt, Paul Klee, and Egon Schiele digitally projected over the concrete structures. U-boat pens, reaching up to 300 feet long and 36 feet high, are now canvases for colorful portraits, landscapes, and abstract scenes. The water filling the space's four basins reflects the artwork from below, while visitors look down from walkways woven throughout the 130,000-square-foot space.

The base looked very different in the 1940s. Nazi Germany constructed it off the coast of Bordeaux as a place to keep its submarines safe from enemy attacks during repairs. The site was abandoned in 1944, but because it's so enormous, the city of Bordeaux decided it would be cheaper to keep it than to tear it down.

Several decades later, the defunct bunker has been given new life. Culturespaces, the organization behind the project, spent more than $15 million transforming the base into a multimedia art gallery. After showcasing the current roster of painters for the rest of the year, the space will feature new artists in 2021.

Culturespaces art gallery.

Culturespaces art gallery in France.

Art gallery in Nazi submarine base.

[h/t Smithsonian]