By Terry Trucco
What is it with The Standard’s outdoor sculpture choices?
Last summer Companion (Passing Through), an enormous rendering of artist KAWS’ signature cartoon boy seated and covering his eyes, loomed 16 feet over the hotel plaza and posed irresistible questions. Was he shy? Scared? Averting his gaze from the hotel’s infamous floor-to-ceiling windows?
Another summer, another sculpture. This week Big Kastenmann, aka Big Box Man, by Austrian surrealist artist Erwin Wurm appeared on the plaza, even bigger (18 feet tall, 1.6 tons) and just as deliciously puzzling. Rendered in aluminum and pink enamel, the sculpture is headless, posing the same questions as Companion. (We can’t wait to see the hotel comes up with next summer.)The big guy is impossible to miss, as headless, 18-foot sculptures inevitably are, his jacket impeccably rendered, his
feet preternaturally large. An occasional photographer raised an iPhone on a hot afternoon, but his most ardent admirers seemed grateful for his base, a welcome place to sit without having to order drinks or tapas. (Kastenmann could have a bright future; Companion is set to become a balloon in this year’s Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.)
An uber-sculpture by the 58-year-old Wurm is an intriguing choice for the Standard. His work has been described as a cross between Hieronymus Bosch and Looney Tunes, an apt summation of his thick catalog raisonne in the hotel shop. Big Pumpkin (Philosphers) depicts a man cast in bronze, clad in pink and crowned with a giant pumpkin for a head (at least he gets a head). Fat Convertible, a big, bloated car, looks like a
marshmallow (it’s the real deal, lacquered at the Opel factory). The catalog’s cover is a giant plastic pickle.
Kastermann is, in fact, Big because the Standard commissioned a blow-up of a smaller Box Man in the catalog (a similar headless rendering is more casually clad in a turtleneck).
Wurm, no stranger to New York, landed the cover of ARTnews in 2010 and shows at the Lehmann Maupin Gallery (his sculptures range from $35,000 to $175,000). For those in the market for something less pricey, the Standard is offering a limited edition print Pee on Someone’s Rug from Wurm’s “Instructions on How To Be Politically Incorrect” series for $2,000. The photographic image is, um, precisely what it sounds like.
Big Kastermann will be on view through November 2012. To be part of the hotel’s Wurm gallery, snap a picture and Instagram to #wurm. The Standard, 848 Washington Street; 212 645-4646.