Tons of Fun at City Hall Park

There’s a new sculpture exhibit, sponsored by the Public Art Fund, in City Hall Park. According to an article in today’s Wall Street Journal, “Statuesque”—as the show is titled—is “the first to be curated by [Public Art Fund] director Nicholas Baume, who took over in September. It also represents a new foray, at this location, into thematic shows that bring together of-the-moment work from contemporary artists, many represented by New York galleries. The sculptures will remain in the park through December 3. Mr. Baume’s choice for the theme was inspired in part by the historic location. ‘It’s a park where you would expect to see bronze statues. In fact, there is a bronze of Nathan Hale,’ he said. ‘It seemed that it would be an interesting context to look at artists thinking about figurative sculpture.'”

It is indeed refreshing to see a group show, versus one of work by a single artist; like the Peter Coffin exhibit this one replaced, those can get a little same-y. And heaven knows I love that City Hall Park is the setting of world-class art exhibits. But I do have quibbles (unsurprisingly): Figurative sculpture has been shown here before, notably Julian Opie’s in 2004–6. And much of this art is, in fact, exactly the kind of sculpture we’ve seen in the past—Aaron Curry’s day-glo works echo Alexander Calder (at City Hall Park in 2006–7), and Thomas Houseago’s “Lumpy Figure” calls to mind the melting humanoids by Robert Melee (2008–9). The only piece that made me gasp in the way that art really should—the way that Opie’s LED works did—is the one at the bottom of the page, and that’s as much because of its prone position on a lawn. Placing it in the northern part of the park, where people actually can hang out (if not nude) on the grass, would have been even better.

In any event, I believe this is the first time a City Hall Park exhibit included a cell-phone audio tour, which is cool. (See the inset photo.)

“Large Concretized Monument to the Twentieth Century” by Rebecca Warren

“Horned Head Trip (reclining)” by Aaron Curry

“Lumpy Figure” by Thomas Houseago

“Untitled (Sprawling Octopus Man)” by Thomas Houseago

“Yellow Bird Boy” by Aaron Curry

“Nation Builder” by Matthew Monahan

“Big Pink” by Aaron Curry

“The Orientalist” by Huma Bhabha

“Sylwia” by Pawel Althamer and the Nowolipie Group


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