Art, Archetypes and Installation
With a slew of new public art installations in NYC, from a new Koons balloon piece in Rockefeller Center, to the controversial Fearless Girl in the Financial District, the topic of art and its installation is trending right now. Public art is engaging, exciting, endlessly instagrammable, and often brings up the question of intended content versus perceived message.
It is certainly true that public art installations are rife for public interpretation, sparking strong emotional responses. The newly installed Seated Ballerina in Rockefeller Center is meant to be a contemporary take on the classical theme of Venus - an expansive theme open to reflective interpretation.
Classical themes or archetypes can be found in numerous iterations throughout contemporary art and literature. Above, are a couple of takes on the extended idea of “Venus” by artists James Wolanin and America Martin. Both appropriate the idea of the mythological goddess of love and beauty as a vessel for their own personal interpretations of contemporary femininity. Martin’s sensually direct nude is featured in a comfortable sitting pose with bold strokes and a rich color palette. In contrast, Wolanin uses sun-faded colors reminiscent of vintage ads to mirror the reflective mood of his femme fatale.
In the case of Fearless Girl, a newly installed sculpture that faces the iconic Charging Bull of Wall Street, the takeaway is much more complex. The reactions are as nuanced as the identities of each individual engaging with the two works. From seeing the girl as a symbol for the need for greater gender diversity in the workplace and modern feminism to criticism of the piece as an example of corporate feminism that belittled the actual achievements towards gender equality. Despite the criticism, or maybe in part due to, the piece can be seen to at least in part to have played a role in expanding the dialogue around these issues, signaling the achieved goal of engagement.
On a side note - a bit of display magic can go a long way, location-wise on a smaller scale as well. Much as public art installations create new engagements, a similar approach can be applied within the home. We loved reading thesetipsfrom Architectural Digest onHow to Display Art Without Hanging It. A bit of perspective is sometimes all you need to make a statement.