Coming soon: A giant, squatting humanoid on the corner of Sixth Avenue and C Street.
By the end of next summer, the Anchorage Museum’s lawn will feature a 20-foot-tall sculpture -- steel boxes stacked to create a human-esque shape, sitting with its arms crossed over its knees.
This week a public art selection committee unanimously approved the design by internationally known sculptor Antony Gormley of London.
Under Anchorage’s percent for art program, 1 percent of the construction budget for public building projects is earmarked to commission art. The $116 million expansion of the Anchorage Museum at Rasmuson Center is scheduled to open in 2010.
“I’m just amazed that he’s going to work with us,” said Michelle Miller, chair of the selection committee and executive director of the Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association. “Having a piece of Gormley’s here in Anchorage will be incredible.”
To the uninitiated, the sculpture’s box-on-box construction may recall a Transformer, or something out of Legoland. But Gormley’s concept didn’t originate in a playpen. Gormley said he was inspired both by Anchorage’s city grid and the “bloody brilliant” architecture of the museum expansion.
“(The sculpture) will itself be, in some senses, a mediator between the city and the museum,” Gormley said. “But it will also be halfway between the condition of architecture and the condition of sculpture.”
Julie Decker, a curator and artist on the selection committee, said the group wanted a sculpture that wasn’t generic, one that tied into the museum’s building project and to Anchorage.
“That’s why he’s sitting directly on the ground. There’s not a pedestal separating the figure from the land,” Decker said. “It’s about how close we are in Anchorage, Alaska, to the environment, which you can’t say in Manhattan.”
Gormley’s as-yet-untitled sculpture will likely face south, so the figure is contemplating Cook Inlet. From Sixth Avenue, the sculpture will appear abstract, but from the museum grounds, its human form will reveal itself. “It invites a certain kind of discovery,” Gormley said.
The artist is planning to mold and construct the $350,000 project in Anchorage.
Gormley has a 25-year reputation for large-scale, outdoor sculptures of the human figure. His steel sculpture “Angel of the North” -- standing 66-feet-tall with a wingspan of 178 feet -- has become a major tourist attraction for Northern England.
“If you want to talk about human thought and human feeling, why not use the human body?” he said.
“You get criticized because people think ‘Oh you must be a traditionalist, you must be rather tired and you can’t think of new and exciting things to do,’ but … I’m passionate about wanting people to having a direct relationship with the work.
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