Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Corporate Art

Wandering through Flushing Meadows, one sometimes comes across huge cast-metal sculptures. Poorly proportioned and painfully self-conscious, these statues don't have a lot of artistic merit, but they say a great deal about the combination of sophistication and prudery that was New York in the mid-1960's.

One of my favorites lies between the Unisphere and the Fountain of the Planets. It has an impressive-sounding name, "The Rocket-Thrower."

For me, though, the sculpture hearkens back to adolescence, when I was first discovering the wonders of masturbation. Looking at it from this angle, the connection becomes a little clearer:

And the surprised expression on the sculpture's face also seems very familiar:

I see it as a mixture of amazement, pride, and abject terror, something along the lines of "Dear God! I'm never going to be able to clean this all up!"

Aah, childhood memories...

Oddly enough, "Spoogius, the Rocket-Shooter" seems to be flying on a huge turd:

Over the years, Spoogius has gotten a little weathered, and the streaks of water have created beautiful patterns of tarnish:

Near the U.S. Open Pavilion, there's a huge statue of a man and a woman floating on a bunch of birds. I'm sure it's called "Leda and the Swans," or something similar:

I call it "Anorexius and Minimus," after the classic Greek myth featuring a starving woman and a man with a very small "hoplite." I'm sure the sculpture is supposed to honor the ideals of athleticism and the classic ideal of victory, but the woman is really, really skinny, and her ponytail hairdo seems a little out of place:

Overall, it looks as if Joani Cunningham from Happy Days decided to go bird watching while naked.

The male counterpart is actually kind of scary. He's also really thin, and has a very, very small penis:

Ooh, look! It's an innie!

The unintentional subtext of this sculpture is that the man is allowed to be naked, but he can't be threateningly well-endowed.

All in all, the sculpture seems to have a very confused perspective regarding art and nudity. On the one hand, the sculptors realized that nudity is classical and artistic, but they couldn't bring themselves to openly support it. Going for a middle path, they offered a starving girl with bizarrely huge boobs and a man with almost no penis. The subtext is clear: heterosexual relationships bring emptiness and castration. One wonders if this was a piece of subtle homosexual propaganda, an indication of a general scorched-earth policy toward relationships, or merely evidence that the artist had never seen anyone with their clothes off.

The 1960's are so weird.

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  • Well, she's skinny and obviously cold too!! Last year, there was this huge debate in Palm Beach...this town commissioned a statue of a mermaid but then were offended that she had big boobs and nipples!! LOL. I don't know how to create links in the comments but heres an article about it...

    By Blogger Claudia, At November 27, 2007 at 12:04 PM  

  • I'm very much enjoying the tour of the New York area, as well as the astute social commentary. Great fun. Thanks.

    By Blogger Mystic Wing, At November 27, 2007 at 3:45 PM  

  • LOL You would have loved my friend's photos from Italy. I did ask her about parts cut off sculptures or parts missing..or...smaller than real life. She's a fine art grad and this is what she told me:-

    Historically, female nudity was fine, but sculpting a penis was forbidden. If it was sculpted, it was usually cut off by someone soon after. The cutters always went for the penis first, then the breasts, then the arms and then the legs. The head was last.

    So maybe this sculpter omitted the penis to prevent anyone messing with his art after the unveiling? I dunno. The whole penis thing was fascinating though. Not one sculpture in Italy has a penis. Not one. Given the legendary rep of italians for loving, I found that interesting.

    That's all I got. :)

    By Blogger Echomouse, At November 27, 2007 at 11:20 PM  

  • I love the first statue
    the globe is nice too but the first one is stunning

    By Blogger Nosjunkie, At November 28, 2007 at 2:10 AM  

  • Great statues. I like statues.

    I think, though, your notion about the cock size is largely a US thing. I once worked on a book and we had to prepare a special edition for Wal-Mart. A featured image within the early pages was of Michelangelo's David. Wal-Mart ordered that the image be cropped for their edition so as not to show David's cock at all. Ridiculous, right?

    By Blogger * (asterisk), At November 28, 2007 at 9:17 AM  

  • Also, echomouse is wrong about sculptures in Italy. Sorry, completely untrue!

    By Blogger * (asterisk), At November 28, 2007 at 9:19 AM  

  • Claudia-
    Did you ever see the South Park Christmas episode in which they all ended up dressed in gray, dancing to Philip Glass? The trouble with community values is that the things that we can all agree upon tend to be fairly boring!

    Mystic Wing-
    Thanks! I'm glad I'm not boring you (yet)!

    It's bizarre, isn't it? Why are depictions of genitalia so threatening? I wonder if the Vatican has a huge collection of stone penises sitting in a vault somewhere.

    I'm glad that you like it. Personally, I love the tarnish streaks. Of course, they weren't really part of the original piece!

    Ridiculous and disturbing. My take on it is this: I don't want my daughter getting involved in murders or shootings, yet that is what my society allows her to see. On the other hand, I do want her to be involved in a loving relationship (someday far, far in the future), but my society has a hard time with depictions of sex.

    It's a little frustrating!

    By Blogger Crankster, At November 28, 2007 at 12:59 PM  

  • I too am enjoying your upclose look at where I live..(lol) and even tho i've seen these things, I just take them for granted. Thanks for reminding me to smell the roses...or look for large penises (peni?) ahahaha.

    By Blogger Odat, At November 28, 2007 at 3:19 PM  

  • That's one big wanker.


    By Blogger Glamourpuss, At November 29, 2007 at 3:07 PM  

  • Odat-
    I'm just glad that I'm not boring you to death. I'll definitely let you know if I come across any large penii.

    Although is seems unlikely.

    All I can say is that we must aim for the stars.

    By Blogger Crankster, At November 30, 2007 at 1:52 PM  

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