The Garment District Alliance, formerly the Fashion Center BID, invited famed sculpture artist, Seward Johnson to install eighteen colorful life-like bronze sculptures along the Broadway Pedestrian Plazas between 36th Street and 41st Street. The installation, named Seward Johnson in New York: Selections from the Retrospective features selections from three of his collections and will remain on view through September 15 as part of the Summer Arts on the Plazas program.
New Yorkers are having a lot of fun with this installation. We watched as commercial trucks unloaded in and around them, locals had their morning coffee at tables and chairs sitting next to them, and tourists couldn’t wait to have their pictures taken with them.
18. “Forever Marilyn”
“Forever Marilyn” (photo at top) from Johnson’s Icons Revisited collection recreates that famous skirt scene in the 7 Year Itch, which wasn’t actually entirely filmed in New York City–find out more here.
17 & 16. The Eye of the Beholder
“Eye of the Beholder” is was by Edouard Manet’s painting “Chez Pèré Lathuille,” and includes a waiter in the background:
15. “Frequent Flyers”
“Frequent Flyers” comes from Johnson’s Celebrating the Familiar collection, and these two businessmen with their double-breasted suits, briefcases and newspaper certainly do the trick in this business district. As Johnson says about this collection: “My art is an imitation of life. [The sculptures] do many things; they can warm up … a park or public space and they invite people to come into that space, so that they don’t feel quite alone. They also make good neighbors — they don’t make a lot of noise.”
14. “God Bless America”
“God Bless America”
“God Bless America” comes from Johnson’s Icons Revisted collection showing the American Gothic couple, of the painting by Grant Wood on the move with a suitcase.
Hot-Dog is another piece from Celebrating the Familiar with a classic hot dog cart, plastic ketchup and mustard bottles, and an old-school apron-clad vendor.
12. “La Promenade”
Johnson, who is now age 85, is the grandson of Johnson & Johnson co-founder Robert Wood Johnson. He is also the Founder of Grounds for Sculpture, a forty-two acre park in Hamilton, New Jersey that features large–scale sculptures inspired by famous Impressionist paintings, and is the former New Jersey State Fairgrounds property, complete with three of its major historic buildings.
This piece, La Promenade comes from the Grounds for Sculpture collection based on the central figures in Gustave Caillebotte’s painting Paris Street; Rainy Day.
11. “Return Visit”
Another piece from the Icons Revisited collection, “Return Visit” shows President Abraham Lincoln with a man from the 20th century side-by-side. Normally, the figures stand in front of the Wills House in Gettysburg Pennsylvania, noting the location where Lincoln stayed overnight finishing the Gettysburg Address.
10. “Mariachi Players”
The Mariachi Players from Celebrating the Familiar brings those persistent musicians above ground in New York City.
9. “Monet, Our Visiting Artist”
“Our Visiting Artist”
In “Monet, Our Visting Artist,” the painting displayed changes wherever the sculpture is displayed. Here, you see a painting of New York City but elsewhere there have been landscapes, figures, houses within the context of its placement. You can see other versions in a Google image search.
8 & 7. “Photo Shoot”
In “Photo Shoot” from Celebrating the Familiar a grouping of two sculptures portrays that typical tourist sidewalk moment (albeit preppily dressed), disrupting the flow for a photograph.
6. “Sidewalk Concert”
In “Sidwalk Concert” from Celebrating the Familiar, a preppy busker play violin (with his bow incorrectly placed, however so may be he isn’t very good…), with his instrument case open for donations.
5. “Special Delivery”
In “Special Delivery,” a mailman heads sorts out some mail from his messenger bag en route to a delivery. Clearly modeled after a USPS employee of a different era, it’s fun to see the vintage skinny tie and hat.
4. “Things to Do”
Right in front of the former bank turned event venue Gotham Hall, a woman thinking with sunglasses in hand makes a to-do list on a notepad.
3. “Time for Fun”
“Time for Fun”
“Time for Fun” is modeled after Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s painting “A Dance In The Country” usually on display in Key West, Florida.
2. “Whispering Close”
“Whispering Close” is also modeled after Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s painting “A Dance In The Country” usually on display in Key West, Florida and there’s even a giant version.
1. “A Turn of the Century”
“A Turn of the Century”
“A Turn of the Century” is inspired by Pierre-Auguste Renoir’s painting “Dance at Bougival.”
This installation has been a beautiful addition to Broadway. Want to learn more about Broadway? Come hear about its history at a book talk given by Untapped Cities Founder, Michelle Young at the New York Public Library on August 3.
Next, check out the 20 art installations not to miss in NYC this month. Contact the author at AFineLyne.