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Wednesday, September 15, 1999 Published at 04:24 GMT 05:24 UK

World: Europe

Sculpture invades Champs Elysees

"Cow up a tree" - seen but not herd

By James Coomarasamy in Paris

One of the world's most famous avenues is being turned into an art gallery today when an exhibition of contemporary works opens on the Champs Elysees.

For the next two months, 52 artists from all over the world are exhibiting their sculptures in an unusual display which has captured the public imagination.

The organisers say it is the world's largest open-air exhibit. Clearly it's also an attempt to re-establish Paris as the capital of modern art.

The city's Mayor, Jean Tiberi, who is sponsoring the display, says that Paris must become an ante-chamber of contemporary works. To that end he's taken art out of the galleries and placed it on the streets.

Milking the audience

One sculpture has even found itself on higher ground. "Cow Up a Tree" by the Melbourne-based artist, John Kelly, is one of the collection's most striking pieces - an outsized cow marooned between two bare branches.

For the past few days, tourists have had the chance to contemplate the stranded bovine as well as to marvel at the other sculptures on display.

But while some items such as "Debris in a Cage," may have left visitors unmoved, the French press has been generous with its praise. One newspaper said the capital was finally stirring, while another called the exhibition a rainbow shining over the Champs Elysees.

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