Public Art

09.05.128:26 PM ET

Big Enough Not To Fail

The Daily Pic: Tony Rosenthal right-sized his outdoor sculpture.

Just yesterday in this space, I went after plop art. So much public sculpture feels too big and bombastic, as art, but also too small to truly compete with the buildings and trees around it. This is Tony Rosenthal’s “5-in-1”, from 1971, installed in a neglected little plaza down the street from City Hall in New York – and somehow it doesn’t seem to suffer from those faults. It fills its space boldly without dominating it. There’s even something a touch plangent about its grand late-modernist values, viewed from our minor postmodern moment. “5-in-1” comes across as an elephant might,  grazing in a forest clearing.

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