This week, artist Ugo Rondinone's massive stone sculptures took over one of NYC's most famous plazas, putting the "rock" in Rockefeller Center. Called “Human Nature,” the exhibition is made up of nine colossal stone figures that weigh up to 30,000 pounds each! Soaring up to twenty feet in the sky, the Public Art Fund project makes the New York landmark feel a bit like Stonehenge.
The nine stone statues stand around Rockefeller Center’s entrance plaza, just above the famous gold sculpture in the seasonal ice rink. Each appears like an ancient sentry, the rocks arranged in figure like forms that guard the plaza. Ranging between 16 and 20 feet, they allow visitors to walk around or even through them and feel dwarfed by their gigantic size.
Rondinone sourced the slabs of bluestone for his installation from a quarry in Northern Pennsylvania. The stone surfaces were kept as they were found, revealing quartz veins, wind marks and other erosion from the elements. The unpolished, untreated surfaces are a stark contrast to the man-made architectural icons that surround their placement. The site of Human Nature is also home to the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree.
The figures in Human Nature feel out of place in their urban setting with a rough-hewn nature that seems more inclined towards an ancient ruin. The stoic figures are meant to act like gate keepers or guards of the site – imposing yet simplistic in contrast to Rockefeller Center and its neighboring television studios, retail shops, cafes and theaters. They also offer a contrast between the viewer and their own human form, and reinforce how living in a big city like New York can make a person feel incredibly small.
The massive installation will take residence in the plaza until June 7th and is free and open to the public.
Images ©Lori Zimmer for Inhabitat