sea serpent
Julie Hambleton
Julie Hambleton
June 9, 2024 ·  2 min read

Giant ‘Serpent’ Emerges From the Sea Off the Coast of France

French-Chinese contemporary artist Huang Yong Ping completed a piece called Serpent d’océan off the shores of the Loire estuary. This is a 425-foot giant serpent sculpture that is repeatedly hidden and revealed by the tides every day. (1)

The Giant Serpent in the Loire Estuary

Huang Yong Ping was a French-Chinese contemporary artist known for his various art installations that challenged tradition, brought various cultures together, and most prominently commented on humanity itself. (1)

His giant serpent sculpture was one that did just that.

Image Credit: Magic Shoot Chaleil Philippe

Completed in 2012, the Serpent d’océan is located along the Loire estuary and is part of a permanent public art collection that spans the 37-mile-long shore. Made of aluminum, the giant serpent emerges from the water when the tide rolls out as if the ocean is revealing an ancient fossil. (1)

Image Credit: Cedric Blondeel

Huang created the giant serpent to mimic the near-by Saint Nazaire bridge as a way to blend the piece with the rest of the landscape. (1)

The Even More Giant Serpent

In 2016, Huang created an even bigger serpent for his Empires exhibition in the Grand Palais in Paris. This truly giant serpent was 787-feet long and surrounded by 305 shipping containers. The piece was meant to start a conversation around world trade. (1)

Image Credit: Jean-Pierre Dalbera

Huang Yong Ping

Huang Yong Ping was one of the most well-known artists in China during their avant-garde movement in the 1980s. Many of his pieces, however, were banned by the Chinese government. (2)

Image Credit: Huang Yong Ping

He moved to France in 1989 to have more freedom of expression. Much of his work was based on politics and attempting to push them to higher moral ground. He often used animals and insects to depict his views on aspects of human nature. (2)

Huang often liked to use his art to address the topic of identity and cultural mixing. He did this by using various animals and Chinese mythological creatures to the European art scene and landscape. (1)

He is one of the most successful contemporary artists of the time, with shows and installations in (2):

  • New York
  • London
  • Rome
  • Bilbao
  • Paris
  • Shanghai

Sadly, Huang passed away from a brain hemorrhage on October 19, 2019, in his home at just 65 years of age. (2)

Huang lives on through his art – especially the giant serpent in the Loire estuary. Just as the piece shows, the tide continues to roll in and out, long after one life is complete.

Keep Reading: Self-Sustaining 54-storey Tower Planned In The Middle Of The Wilderness


  1. Giant Serpent Emerges From the Sea Off the Coast of France.” My Modern Met. Jessica Stewart. June 25, 2018.
  2. “Huang Yong Ping, 65, Dies; His Art Saw a World of Power Struggles.” NY Times. Holland Cotter. October 29, 2019.