This Cheshire-like fat cat that sits in front of the 900 Park Avenue Building. Known mostly for his plump sculptures and paintings of women, Fernando Botero’s bronze cat replaced an original Henry Moore sculpture in front of the driveway. The building is considered one of the ugliest on Park Avenue.
900 Park can also be seen in the opening credits of Diff’rent Strokes, when Gary Coleman and Todd Bridges get out of the limo in the driveway of the building.
May Gary rest in peace….
Who: Fernando Botero
What: El Gato Sculpture
Where: 900 Park Avenue
The ultimate post-mortem vanity plate to himself, Joseph Pulitzer left $50,000 for the Pulitzer Fountain, to be erected in Grand Army Plaza at the South Eastern tip of Central Park.
His instructions were to create “a fountain like those in the Place de la Concorde in Paris.” A design competition awarded Karl Bitter and Thomas Hastings the honor and it was erected in 1916. Bitter wanted the plaza to be symmetrical, so the Sherman monument was moved 16 feet west (where it now stands).
True to Pulitzer’s empire of wealth, the bronze sculpture is of Pomona, Roman goddess of abundance. She pours water out of a bowl into the pools below, and is flanked by ram’s heads with horns of plenty to further emphasize Pulitzer’s posthumous message of wealth and material comforts. It fittingly sits in front of the present day Plaza Hotel and across from the tourist heavy FAO Schwartz and Apple stores.
Who: Karl Bitter and Thomas Hastings
What: The Pulitzer Fountain
Where: 5th Avenue & 59th Street
Stephen Weiss, the late husband of Donna Karan, created his “Larger than Life” collection shortly before his death from a long battle with lung cancer in 2001. The collection includes for pieces; a high-heeled shoe, a roll of film, a Dressage horse and this big apple, which is a tribute to New York City. The Dressage Horse was the final piece, completed posthumously by Weiss’s son, was presented at Hampton Classic.
The Apple, here in Millenium Garden, is a 3 ton and 9 foot bronze that sits on a bench of apple cores. It symbolizes the heart and “core” of the city.
Weiss was part of Donna Karan’s company, but still continued to create art, although never sought public recognition for his pieces.
Who: Stephen Weiss
Where: Hudson River Park- West Side Highway at Charles Street
Many public works are located in the historic Financial District, with all the promenades surrounding the corporate offices; it is a perfect place for public sculpture and what not. You’ll notice many Minimalist pieces in this area, usually geometric sculptures of iron and steel, which is welcomed but not necessarily inspirational.
In 1969, David Rockefeller commissioned Jean Dubuffet to create a sculpture to be placed in front of the Chase Manhattan Building . The sculpture, Group of Four Trees, towers above the visitor in varying heights, in Dubuffet’s signature loopy, childlike style. It feels as if you are almost walking into a children’s coloring book, with uncolored trees leaping from the pages and growing above you. A fantasy contrast before entering a staunch financial institution! This coloring book effect is seemingly what Dubuffet intended, calling them not sculptures but drawings, which extend and expand into space.
This is one of my favorite remnants of public art from the 1970s, by not only its impressive size and contrast to the metal sculptures nearby, but of the fantastical imagery it evokes when I pass under it.
Who: Jean Dubuffet
What: Group of Four Trees sculpture
Where: One Chase Manhattan Plaza
Across from the famed Stonewall Inn, in a gated park area in Christopher Square two cast white male statues stand in a frozen intimate chat, while two women statues sit with each other on a nearby bench. The sculptures, the signature cast style of George Segal, were commissioned in 1979 by arts patron Peter Putnam. The statues pay tribute the Stonewall Riots which happened a decade before, when police raided the homosexual hang out, the outcome becoming known in history as the first time that homosexuals fought back for their rights. The first Gay and Lesbian Pride Parade, which happened the next day, was a direct result of the riots, and is known as the flashpoint for the gay rights movement in history.
Putnam originally approached other artists, but Segal finally accepted. Putnam’s only requirements were that the piece “had to be loving and caring, and show the affection that is the hallmark of gay people … and it had to have equal representation of men and women.”
The little park is open to the public, and The Stonewall Inn is still open for business. There is also a great little dive to tuck into next door called Kettle of Fish.
Who: George Segal
What: Gay Liberation Monument
Where: Christopher Park, 53 Christopher Street