BY JANET STEINBERG
Back in the 1980s, when I first visited the Grand Bay Hotel in Coconut Grove, Florida I fell in love. Not with a man, but with an outstanding sculpture. I was mesmerized by ”WINDWARD”, the late Alexander Liberman’s red steel work of art soaring skyward in front of the Grand Bay Hotel. From that moment on, I dreamed about what it would be like having a sculpture like that in front of my home.
|ALEXANDER LIBERMAN’S “WINDWARD” AT GRAND BAY HOTEL IN COCONUT GROVE, FLORIDA|
Believe it or not, if you dream something long enough, those dreams might come true. Well, let me tell you, I became a believer. One decade later, the developer of the condominium in which I lived decided to dedicate “CANTICLE” one of Alexander Liberman’s red steel works of art in Cincinnati. And where did he decide to erect it? You guessed it…right in front of my condo where I gaze at it daily.
|ALEXANDER LIBERMAN’S “CANTICLE” AT ADAMS PLACE IN CINCINNATI, OHIO|
From that day in the early 1980s, when I first fell in love with contemporary sculpture, I have been searching the globe for sensational sculpture wherever I travel. Allow me to share some of my favorite finds, and the places that are privileged to have them.DUBLIN, IRELAND: “In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone…..” Just as the tragic ballad laments, there she stood greeting me at the top of Grafton Street. In all her buxom bronze splendor, the 18th-century fish-monger is still drawing a crowd to her wheel-barrow laden with cockles and mussels. Immortalized in 1988 by sculptor Jean Rynhart, “MOLLY MALONE” has been affectionately, yet irreverently, dubbed by irrepressible Dubliners as “The Tart with the Cart”.
|SWEET MOLLY MALONE|
BILBAO, SPAIN is home to the famed Guggenheim Museum, a must to put on your Bucket List. From a distance, the splendid bizarrely shaped $100-million museum looks like a massive steel sculpture. The museum’s architect Frank Gehry described his building on the banks of the Nervion River as a ship that has run aground. However, it was the Guggenheims’s fabulous spider “MAMAN”, standing in front of the museum, that I was smitten (and bitten) by. “ MAMAN” is Louise Bourgeois’ huge bronze spider measuring over 30-feet high and 33-feet wide. Bourgeois said that The Spider was an ode to her mother who was her best friend. (Maman is the French word for Mother.) “Like a spider”, Bourgeois once stated, “my mother was a weaver…spiders are helpful and protective, just like my mother.”
|“MAMAN”, LOUISE BOURGEOIS SPIDER “MAMAN” AT BILBAO’S GUGGENHEIM|
WASHINGTON D.C. is home to the Sculpture Garden of the National Gallery of Art where the “TYPEWRITER ERASER, SCALE X “ stands center stage on the grassy lawn. This painted stainless steel and fiberglass Pop Art sculpture was created in 1999 by Claes Oldenburg. His first Pop creations were met with ridicule and scorn before they became treasured as objects of whimsy and fun. Today, Oldenburg is world-renowned for his art that glorifies everyday objects. If you also travel to Kansas City, you can imagine a rousing game of badminton with Oldenburg’s humongous white-feathered birdies that grace the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum.
|CLAES OLDENBURG’S “TYPEWRITER ERASER, SCALE X “|
BUDAPEST, HUNGARY may be known for Hungarian goulash, but it is “SILVER WEEPING WILLOW”, a maze of glistening silver leaves hanging from the branches of a metal tree in Raoul Wallenberg Park, that I think of when I think of Budapest. This “Silver Weeping Willow” sculpture, funded by the late actor Tony Curtis, is in loving memory of his Hungarian-born parents. In Tony Curtis’s words, the Holocaust Memorial is “dedicated to the 600,000 Hungarian Jews who perished in the Holocaust and to the many valiant heroes of all faiths who risked their lives to save untold numbers of Jewish men, women and children from certain death. Although Hungarian artist Imre Barga’s “Silver Weeping Willow” is actually a poignant memorial it is also one of the most beautiful sculptures I have ever seen.
|BUDAPEST’S “SILVER WEEPING WILLOW”|
NICE, FRANCE is home to the Negresco Hotel, the crown jewel on the French Riviera. This Belle Époque palace, where Empire-cloaked doormen will greet you, is a wedding cake-like confection iced in pink and green. Its Salon Royal, with an immense glass dome crafted in the workshop of Gustave Eiffel (of Eiffel Tower fame), showcases a Baccarat chandelier consisting of 16,309 crystals. Weighing one ton, the chandelier is half of a pair commissioned by the Czar of Russia at the end of the 19th century. In direct juxtaposition to the chandelier is “THE NANA JAUNE”, an obese, liberated, exuberant, brightly colored, revolving sculpture by Niki de Saint Phalle. This French sculptors whimsical “Nikigator”, and her” Poet & Muse”, are also yours for pure enjoyment in San Diego’s Balboa Park.
|NIKI DE SAINT PHALLE’S NANA JAUNE|
HELSINKI, FINLAND showcases the “SIBELIUS MONUMENT” in Sebelius Park both of which are named for the Finnish Composer Jean Sibelius. This monumental work of art by Eila Hilltunen, consisting of 600 hollow steel pipes resembling organ pipes, commemorates the music of the famed composer. The pipes are welded together and hand-textured by the artist. Sitting adjacent to the sculpture on its rocky base is the stainless steel face of Jean Sibelius.
Janet Steinberg, winner of 47-travel writing awards, resides in Cincinnati but calls the world her home.