The Gentle Giants of Rockefeller Center
They came by night—three nights, really, then Rockefeller Center Plaza was overtaken by an army of giants.The massive, archaic forms, which look like they ambled across the Atlantic from Stonehenge, are the work of Ugo Rondinone, the impish Swiss artist whose last public appearance in New York was the giant “Hell, Yes” on the facade of the new New Museum.
Rondinone conceived his exhibition, called “Human Nature,” as a kind of counterpoint to The Tree, which dominates the plaza at Christmas but casts a giant shadow all year. The bluestone figures, which weigh up to 30,000 pounds each and stand up to 20 feet high, seem impervious to the Greco-Roman strongmen who usually run this part of town, like the Atlas over on Fifth, the Prometheus across the plaza, and the Deco Zeus on the 30 Rock facade, who looks as though he’s going to be stuck in the clouds for the duration of this show.
Rondinone’s modern megaliths demonstrate that even in an era of touchscreens and interactive spectacle, it’s human nature to feel awed and inspired in the presence of a giant rock.
Yet characteristically, Rondinone instills a sweet, appealing quality in his gentle giants, who come off not so much as invaders but as sentries.
They provoke a feeling of awe—and also awwwwww.
Ugo Rondinone, Human Nature, 2013, on view at Rockefeller Center, New York City, April 23 - June 7, 2013, presented by Nespresso, organized by Tishman Speyer and Public Art Fund. Photo James Ewing, Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY.