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From Monument au Fantome to Gray Stone

Anyone else out there glad Houston moved Jean Dubuffet’s Monument au Fantome from 1100 Louisiana to Discovery Green?

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve thought Monument au Fantome looked out of place in the Skyline District. That sense of otherness might’ve been what Dubuffet was going for, but there was just something about the sculpture’s lumpy whiteness, its primary red and blue, that really didn’t jell with the surrounding buildings.

Joan Miro’s Personage With Birds, a few blocks down at 600 Travis, and Mac Whitney’s Houston, in Stude Park on White Oak Bayou – both those always just seemed a better fit to me. They worked, at least in the sense I could look at them as a kid and think Oh, hey, there’s some art, instead of Why’d they put that striped mashed potato thing there?

Sure, a young’un might not be the most insightful art critic, but as a native Houstonian I just couldn’t shake my initial impressions of the Dubuffet.


But now Monument au Fantome has been in Discovery Green for a little while, hanging out near the similarly colored George R. Brown Convention Center. The whole park is kind of cheesy (and not necessarily in a bad way) and full of bright colors, just like, well, you know where this is going.


So what’s become of the plaza at 1100 Louisiana? Glad you asked. After months of work, a new design has been realized, with curved, stepped fountains full of rich gray stones. (I sent a message to building owner Hines Interests, asking for more info; I’ll let y’all know if I hear back.)


The fountains might not be anywhere near as important a project as Monument au Fantome, but they have the feel of always having been part of the plan. Which means the whole thing is completely tame and, yes, it’s true, kind of boring too. But the design fits with the rest of what that corner’s got going on, and my inner child is pleased.


Of course, my inner adult just might be of a different opinion. I guess I’ll know for sure once I’m elderly. 

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