Friday, June 20, 2014

25 favourite outdoor sculptures from my travels so far...

Until I moved to L.A. I don't think I had the time to stop and look at the world around me so much, being caught up in the bustling London rat-race. However, since I've had more time on my hands and have had the opportunity to travel throughout California, to New York, Vancouver and return trips to the U.K. in the past six years, I've discovered a whole world full of amazing outdoor art that has captured my imagination. In no particular order, here are 25 of my favourite sculptures and public art installations from my travels to date.

Vancouver's giant Crab by George Norris
Norris Stainless steel crab sculpture Vancouver
On of the most photographed pieces of art in Vancouver, this incredible super-sized stainless steel crab sits amidst a fountain in front of the H.R. MacMillan Space Center, which is an astronomy museum in Vanier Park. If you like this giant metal crustacean, be sure to check out the Crab sculpture from more angles.

Freezing Water sculpture by Jun Ren
Freezing Water sculpture Jun Ren
Another mesmerising metal sculpture to be found in Vancouver's Vanier Park on my Summer visit in 2011 was this fluid looking Freezing Water sculpture by Chinese artist, Jun Ren, which was part of a temporary bi-annual art exhibition, so I'm not sure if it's still there or not. It reminds me of the liquid metal special effect pioneered by James Cameron's sci-fi films, The Abyss and Terminator 2: Judgment Day.

A-maze-ing Laughter sculptures by Yue Minjun
A-maze-ing Laughter sculptures Yue Minjun
Another favourite art installation to be found across the water in Vancouver's English Bay is this collection of cheerful statues called A-maze-ing Laughter, which you can wander in and out of, immersing yourself in the joyful experience.

The Drop sculpture by Inges Idee
The Drop sculpture Inges Idee Vancouver
Meanwhile this magnificent giant blue teardrop can be found in Vancouver's Coal Harbour with the fantastic mountains in the background.

LightShed sculpture by Liz Magor
LightShed sculpture Liz Magor Vancouver
Vancouver really does seem a city filled with great outdoor art and another whimsical sculpture can be found further along on the Coal Harbour waterfront in the form of Liz Magor's LightShed, which is a fantastic oddity perched on stilts (which apparently glows in the dark).

Digital Orca sculpture by Douglas Coupland
Digital Orca killer whale sculpture Douglas Coupland
And finally from the British Columbian city is this amazing pixilated whale sculpture, Digital Orca, by native Canadian and Generation X author, Douglas Coupland. This certainly is a killer (whale) work of art.

Bronze Form sculpture by Henry Moore
Bronze Form sculpture Henry Moore Getty Center
Back in L.A. and The Getty Center possesses a wealth of marvelous outdoor art dotted throughout the many levels of the venue, like Henry Moore's gleaming Bronze Form, which can be found before you board the tram up to the main buildings in the Fran and Ray Stark Sculpture Garden.

Running Man sculpture by Elisabeth Frink
Running Man sculpture Elisabeth Frink Getty Center
Another cool bronze, which maybe speaks to me because of all the marathons I've been participating in, is Elisabeth Frink's Running Man sculpture. Both of these pieces, plus many more are wonderfully presented in a sculpture garden which is like a contemporary work of art itself, with modern lines and clever landscaping and planting.

Gestation III wooden sculpture by Baile Oaks
Gestation III wooden sphere sculpture Baile Oaks Palisades Park
Another sculpture that captivated me the moment I saw it, is this spherical wooden construct called Gestation III by Baile Oaks, which can be found in Palisades Park in Santa Monica, which is a great place to walk your dog and overlook the Pacific Ocean.

The Drummer sculpture by Barry Flanagan
The Drummer sculpture Barry Flanagan Beverly Gardens Park
Beverly Gardens Park in L.A.'s infamous Beverly Hills has many interesting outdoor sculptures, including this quirky bronze elongated hare called The Drummer by Barry Flanagan.

Endless V sculpture by Jaume Plensa
Endless V sculpture Jaume Plensa beverly hills
Another intriguing sculpture, and fairly recent addition to Beverly Gardens Park in 2013, is this stainless steel Endless V sculpture, which looks like a sitting figure has been draped in a fluid blanket of symbols and characters. You could look at it for hours I'm sure and still spot something new with each glance.

Finger Tablet sculpture by Miranda July
Finger Tablet sculpture Miranda July Pacific Design Center
In the Summer of 2011 the wavy lawn of the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood played host to Miranda July's Eleven Heavy Things art installation and my favourite was this whimsical Finger Tablet piece.

Pretty Boy sculpture by David Buckingham
Pretty Boy sculpture David Buckingham West Hollywood
Just like Vancouver, West Hollywood has a great selection of outdoor art projects which include many temporary exhibits that change from year to year to keep the neighborhood visually interesting.

One such display space is the median parkland along Santa Monica Boulevard at Doheny Drive, where the city borders Beverly Hills, where this fun and colourful Pretty Boy sculpture could be found in late 2012 along with more outdoor sculptures from the Frostig Collection.

Miss Mao trying to poise herself at the top Lenin's Head sculpture 
by Gao Zehn and Gao Qiang
Miss Mao trying to poise herself at the top Lenin's Head sculpture
Another whimsical sculpture to be found along La Brea Avenue in L.A. is this giant gleaming bust of the historic Russian, Vladimir Lenin, with a tiny Miss Mao balancing on top of his head, by the Chinese Gao Brothers.

Herakles - The Archer sculpture by Antoine Bourdelle
Herakles The Archer sculpture Antoine Bourdelle LACMA
you can probably tell from my choice of art that I prefer more contemporary pieces, but that doesn't mean I don't appreciate more classic sculptures like this Antoine Bourdelle bronze (I think something about the masculinity of the piece appeals to my artistic sensibilities).

LACMA (The Los Angeles county Museum of Art) has a fantastic sculpture garden which contains many impressive Bourdelle and Rodin sculptural examples along Wilshire Boulevard. The garden space itself is a work of art, designed by Robert Irwin, who also created The Central Garden at The Getty Center.

Urban Light sculpture by Chris Burden
Urban Light sculpture Chris Burden LACMA
Situated beside the LACMA sculpture garden you'll also find Chris Burden's Urban Light installation, which consists of an assortment of 202 vintage L.A. street lampposts of varying heights and types, and looks spectacular by day and especially at night. You can also roam within the lights and it's the perfect photo opportunity for tourists and someone wanting an arty selfie.

Chromatic Gate sculpture by Herbert Bayer
Chromatic Gate sculpture Herbert Bayer Santa Barbara
Further up the Pacific Coast Highway in Santa Barbara, you'll find this rainbow-hued arch by Herbert Bayer, which is so simple, but beautifully frames the surrounding mountains when you look through it.

Raygun Gothic Rocketship by Sean Orlando, 
Nathaniel Taylkor, David Shulman, Alan Rorie and their crew
Raygun Gothic Rocketship Pier 14 San Francisco
Much further up the Californian West Coast and San Francisco is another city teeming with fantastic outdoor art, like the Raygun Gothic Rocketship which temporarily landed beside Pier 14 and looks like its torn from the world of a classic black and white Flash Gordon TV serial.

Moonrise sculptures by Ugo Rondinone
Moonrise sculptures Ugo Rondinone San Francisco
Another fun trio of sculptures that I discovered one year in San Francisco to run the annual Bay to Breakers race, were these quirky Moonrise sculptures, entitled March, October and December and found along Mission Street.

Human Structures sculpture by Jonathan Borofsky
Human Structures sculpture Jonathan Borofsky San Francisco
And also nearby you could also find this vibrant Human Structures sculpture, which looks a bit like a giant children has been plating with their multi-coloured Meccano building toys.

Forever Marilyn sculpture by J. Seward Johnson
Forever Marilyn sculpture J. Seward Johnson Palm Springs
Meanwhile on a trip to the desert last year for the 4th July I was fortunate enough to see this giant Marilyn Monroe sculpture in her classic pose with her dress flying up over a subway vent. The enormous Hollywood icon has now left Palm Springs for other destinations, so I'm glad I was able to check her out where the starlet was 'discovered'.

Spider sculpture by Louise Bourgeois
Spider sculpture Louise Bourgeois New York
Over on the East Coast in New York City I came across one the infamous metal Spider sculptures by Louise Bourgeois, which was standing outside Christie's auction house. Apparently this was number two from an edition of seven and valued at between $4 and $6 million.

Jelly Baby Family sculptures by Mauro Perucchetti
Jelly Baby Family sculptures Mauro Perucchetti London
On one of my many visits back to Britain a gloomy January was brightened by London's City of Sculpture Festival, public art on display in many of the capital's parks, which included this whimsical Jelly Baby Family installation.

Vroom Vroom sculpture by Lorenzo Quinn
Vroom Vroom sculpture Lorenzo Quinn London
Another temporary installation to be found in London in January 2011 was this fun Vroom Vroom sculpture, which looked like something out of a Monty Python sketch, with a giant hand reaching down to pick up this classic Fiat 500.

Horse Head sculpture by Nic Fiddian-Green
Horse Head sculpture Nic Fiddian-Green Marble Arch
And finally, I'm not a huge fan of horses (they are far too muscular and skittish for my tastes), but I did love this giant Horse Head sculpture that I spotted at London's Marble Arch in January 2010. There's something equally majestic and sad about this work of art and it's interesting from every angle.

So as you can see I have quite eclectic tastes in sculpture, although the vast majority of my choices tend towards the modern and contemporary. I've said on many occasions that art, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder and not every piece will speak to everybody.

On my travels I've spotted many more examples of fantastic outdoor art, but when making this selection I thought what would I actually pay money for (if I had a few million to throw around).

Aside from making many city streets and parks look much more interesting, it's great to see so many works of public art outside of stuffy old museums and galleries, which often only ever cater to a handful of people or certain demographic.

What do you think? Do you have any favourites in the selection featured here? Let me know.

Until then, I'll keep my eyes open for the next intriguing sculpture to capture my imagination...

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