Marlborough Gallery will open it’s new Chelsea location with an eagerly anticipated exhibition of recent sculpture by Tom Otterness, one of the United States’ premier public artists. Tom Otterness: The Public Unconscious will inaugurate the spectacular first floor gallery of the new Marlborough Chelsea, located at 545 West 25th Street. The show consists of approximately twenty sculptures, including five of monumental proportions, and will be Otterness’ first major gallery exhibition in five years. The exhibition opens on Thursday, October 4, 2007 and will continue through Saturday, November 3, 2007.
“I’m delighted that Marlborough Chelsea will be opening with Tom Otterness’ work,” said Levai. “Our first floor gallery was expressly designed to exhibit monumental sculpture such as Tom’s.”
A highlight of Tom Otterness: The Public Unconscious will be Large Immigrant Family, described by Otterness as the “emotional center of the show.” The sculpture, a ten-foot high, ten-foot long and nine-foot wide bronze, depicts a newly arrived family — mother and father gazing attentively at their baby, who in turn looks outward to the world. This work encapsulates the immigrant experience, one to which many Americans can personally relate.
Otterness’ sculpture is recognized for humorous and often satiric depictions of American society, especially those facets that many find uncomfortable to discuss: class, money, religion and sexual relations. Large Consumer, 2007, is a prime example of this focus in Otterness’ work: a fantastical monumental bronze of a rotund giant man sitting on a moneybag, gobbling trucks and products as they ascend a huge ramp from a factory down below and into his mouth. An oil truck, generic delivery trucks, a woman pushing an oil barrel, a figure pushing a pack of cigarettes, a woman hauling an enormous diamond ring and a man pulling an oversize, dead fish compose this parade of rampant consumerism, while the belly of the man enlarges to the point of explosion.
Equally astonishing is the ten-and-a-half-foot long Large Millipede, 2005, a somehow adorable, yet slightly menacing bronze of a top-hatted myriapod with each of its 23 pairs of legs shod in formal shoes. This sculpture can be seen as an encapsulation of Otterness’ philosophy of society as a living organism that moves forward only when the individual parts function together; that even the smallest has a vital contribution to the whole.
Kissing Dung Beetles, a seven-foot tall sculpture, is, according to the artist, both “an optimistic spin on Kafka’s The Metamorphosis and inspired by Amorphophallus titanium,” a work that Otterness created for the Nolen Greenhouses at the New York Botanical Garden, Bronx, New York in 2005. Here male and female dung beetles are entwined on top of a moneybag, a frequent object in Otterness’ work. “It’s very passionate when you see the actual sculpture. Whether they are in love with each other or the money is in question, but they are happy,” said Otterness.
Tom Otterness: The Public Unconscious follows a series of monumental outdoor shows by Otterness that began in 2004 with the highly acclaimed Tom Otterness on Broadway, an exhibition of twenty-five bronze sculptures that spanned five miles of that famous thoroughfare in New York in 2004 and inspired similar exhibitions held within the cities of Indianapolis, IN; Beverly Hills, CA and Grand Rapids, MI.
Sculptures by Tom Otterness are in the collections of numerous museums including The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York; Israel Museum in Jerusalem and The IVAM Centro Julio Gonzalez, Valencia, Spain. Commissioned public art projects include the United States courthouses in Minneapolis and Sacramento, an extensive installation at the Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City, Life Underground in multiple areas of the MTA 14th Street A-C-E-L subway station in New York City, The Marriage of Real Estate and Money at New York City’s Roosevelt Island, The Return of the Four-Leggeds at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture in Spokane, Washington, Time and Money in Times Square, Suspended Mind at the Montefiore Children’s Hospital in the Bronx, Tornado of Ideas at Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas, and installations in Camuy, Puerto Rico and Indianapolis, Indiana.
Installed along the North Sea near The Hague, The Netherlands, is Otterness’ large-scale installation for the Beelden aan Zee Museum in Scheveningen. This project includes some of his largest bronzes to date, including, Harringeter (Herring Eater) which stands forty-five feet; creating a striking silhouette against the Dutch horizon. Otterness was the first contemporary artist to be invited to create a helium balloon, Humpty Dumpty, for the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade, seen by millions of television viewers worldwide.
Otterness hails from Wichita, Kansas and has been a New York resident since the 1970s. He works from a studio in Gowanus, Brooklyn. This exhibition will run concurrently with Steven Charles: Thirteen Monsters for Lightning Bolt on the second floor of Marlborough Chelsea, 545 West 25th Street, New York, NY. An illustrated catalogue with an essay by Hilarie Sheets will be available at the time of the exhibition.