Tuesday, May 8, 2018



Giant Sculptures Around the World 

Spoonbridge and Cherry, Minneapolis USA 

The above giant spoon and cherry sculpture was erected in 1985 by artist Claes Oldenburg and his wife, Coosje van Bruggen. It is located in the Walker Art Centre’s Minneapolis Sculpture Garden, the largest urban sculpture park in the world. Oldenburg, an artist who was known for making oversized versions of everyday objects and food products, also had a fascination with doodling spoons ever since 1962 when he was inspired by a spoon resting on a piece of fake chocolate. The spoon was Oldenburg’s idea, van Bruggen added her cherry )if you'll pardon the expression) as a comment on the garden’s otherwise staid layout. 

Matchsticks, Art Gallery, Sydney Australia 

This should actually be in the Big Things in Oz series but I thought some background to this well known Sydney sculpture might be of interest to locals. 


APRIL 21, 2011 

Australians love a Big Thing. If Brett Whiteley had called his sculpture “The Big Matchsticks,” and plonked it by the Pacific Highway, there would be a kiosk selling postcards at its base, and tourist buses pulling in by the dozen. 

As it was he donated the piece called “Almost Once” to the Art Gallery of New South Wales in 1991, a year before he died of a drug overdose. It was stuck around the back, overlooking the Cahill Expressway, out of sight and out of mind. 

The striking sculpture, eight metres tall including its plinth, has suffered from the elements over the years. Cockatoos make a habit of tearing at the work as they sharpen their beaks on the charcoal at the top of the burnt matchstick. 

During its second major overhaul in 2002 sculptor Matt Dillon, who constructed the piece under Whiteley’s direction, was critical of the gallery’s maintenance record. “It will always be a reparation, it’s not original, and that could have been avoided if the gallery had agreed to doing maintenance on it every two years or so,” he said. “The two matches are the orphaned siblings of the Art Gallery of NSW.” 

“Almost Once” prompts meditations on life and death, burning out, and the cost of living life to the full. If Whiteley had put his sculpture by the Pacific Highway, as well as attracting more visitors, he would have spared tourists from troubling thoughts as they asked themselves, “What does it mean?” No one has ever asked what the Big Banana “means.” It’s big and it’s a banana: that’s enough. 

Chris Ryan 

Cupid’s Span, San Francisco 

Another sculpture by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen's, made of fiberglass and steel and installed in the newly built Rincon Park in San Francisco in 2002. The piece resembles Cupid's bow and arrow, drawn, with the arrow and bow partially implanted in the ground. Apparently it reflects San Francisco's reputation as the city of love. 

Man and Woman, Batumi, Georgia 

‘Man and Woman’ by Georgian sculptor Tamara Kvesitadze is pretty striking on its own - two towering human made out of metallic discs - but the installation becomes even more impressive when you realise the statues are moving. Representing a Muslim boy, Ali, and a Christian Georgian princess, Nino, characters from a novel by Azerbaijani author Kurban Said, the figures draw closer, kissing, before continuing on their route and passing through one another, eventually parting and facing in opposite directions, representative of the characters' separation by the invasion of Soviet Russia. The statues spring into life every day at 7pm in the seaside town of Batumi, Georgia, their journey happening slowly over 10 minutes. ‘Man and Woman’, re-christened “Ali and Nino”, was designed in 2007 but not installed until 2010. 


Giant Buddha, Leshan, China 

Construction of the Leshan Giant Buddha, measuring 71 metres tall, was led by a Buddhist monk named Haitong in the 700s. It is said that he gouged his eyes out in an act of dedication when funding for the construction project was threatened. 

Mansudae Grand Monument, Pyongyang, North Korea 

Originally comprising one statue, that of Kim Il-sung (1912-1994), the site was expanded to include a statue of Kim Jong-il (1941-2011) in 2012 after the leader's death. They are respectively the grandfather and father of the present leader Kim Jong Un. Twenty metres in height, the original was completed in 1972. Photographers are told to photograph only the entire statue (not in parts) by their tour leader so as to “avoid causing offense.”

The monument as a function of time:
Left: A 2010 photo of the original statue of Kim Il-sung. 
Top right: A 2012 photo of an updated statue of Kim Il-sung depicting him as an older statesman and an additional statue of Kim Jong-il. 
Bottom right: A 2014 photo showing Kim Jong-il with a new coat.

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