From marble to radioactive waste, the sculptures of 2015 were all about materials.
Sculpture, at its best, illuminates abstract forms into a three dimensionality. Throughout history, the function of great sculptural works were religious and political and the monumental pieces were the cousins of grand architectures made to elicit power and influence. Today, as all artforms continue to evolve with advancements in technology, and access to new materials and tools becomes more abundant, we see marvelous displays of lifelike and futuristic totems. The sculptural works collected below are examples of public art, erected to be more accessible to a greater audience as well as with materials tied to our everyday experience. From marbled etched with robot arms or pink buffalos made of bubble gum, the point of these works is to illustrate a message of tangibility and whimsy. They aim to be awe-inspiring and to reimagine the spaces in which they are erected.
+ In the beginning, there was Adam and Eve. Tony Matelli’s Garden sculptures flip the biblical canon on its head. The artist told The Creators Project, “It speaks to our perpetual connection to mythology and history. It also confers upon it a perennial state of expulsion, our constant quest for understanding and our constant state of disappointment."
+ The trend of creating contemporary archeological art to be dug up for future generations made it’s rounds from Taryn Simon’s Black Box in Russia, ChimPom’s Don’t Follow the Wind in Japan, and French artist Prune Nourry's Terra Cotta Daughters in China.
+ Anish Kapoor’s Dirty Corner installation at Château de Versailles was marked with great controversy and sullied by graffiti and gold-leafing. Of the constant backlash, the artist writes, “Dirty Corner has become the vehicle for the expression of our anxiety of 'the other' and emphasis that Art is a focus for our deepest longings and fears... Dirty Corner will now be marked with hate and I will preserve these scars as a memory of this painful history. I am determined that Art will triumph. ”
+ Dan McCarthy creates industrial-sized ceramic sculptures, an assortment of colossal vessels sculpted from a mountain of wet earthen clay. For all of our technological advances McCarthy investigates the emotional possibilities of wet clay. Most of which take the form of smiling facepots.
+ The works of kinetic artist Panagiotis "Takis" Vassilakis make a global resurgence from the Frieze Sculpture Park in London to the first US museum survey at Modern and Contemporary Art at the Menil Collection.
+ Alessandro Boezio's anatomical mashups make the familiar and individual odd and collective. These surreal body parts are alive in a non-human way.
+ YO is a semordnilap—a word that spells a different word when read in reverse—made into a sculpture in Brooklyn to signify the historical Jewish influence through OY and the hip-hop hotbed that is New York through YO but can also be read in Spanish to mean "I am."
+ Maurizio Savini carves bubble gum figures with a razor-sharp scalpel, resulting in candy-pink commentaries on consumerism. He says, "Our life is characterized by a constant dialogue between our self and consumption." His pink buffalo is a welcomed critique on Americana and a much more fun icon than the flag.
+ London-based artist Matthew Plummer-Fernandez riffs on file-sharing mass online surveillance activity by creating sculptures from 3D models of Mickey Mouse, Marge Simpson, Goku, and Spongebob Squarepants.
+Dutch artist The Kid’s three busts of fallen angels, Until the Quiet Comes, bring an urban and street thug quality to Le Grand Palais in Paris. We always like to see people come up.
+ LA-based artist Refik Anadol turned the lobby of a building in San Francisco into an otherworldly digital sculpture, further proving how data science and flat screen technologies are the materials of the future.
What was your favorite? Let us know in the comments below.