Thursday, April 15, 2010

Bigger is Sometimes Better

By its nature, public art often needs to be monolithic. It is art for the people and by being huge can be seen by more. That's my theory anyway. Now San Francisco has a new focal point thanks to artist Zhang Huan. On May 12, the city will unveil his 2008 copper sculpture of Buddha, Three Heads Six Arms, in its Joseph L. Alioto Performing Arts Piazza, just across from city hall, in honor of the 30th Anniversary of the San Francisco Arts Commission. It is the largest work that the artist has yet made, and weighs in at an astounding 15 tons and stands nearly 26 feet tall at its highest point.

Zhang, who is currently based in Shanghai, reportedly hand-picked the city to display his sculpture. “We are honored to have an artist of Zhang Huan’s stature participate in the Shanghai Sister City Celebration,” mayor Gavin Newsom declared in a statement. (The two cities have been sister cities since 1979.) “We anticipate that locals and tourists alike will flock to the Civic Center to experience the grandeur of this masterpiece firsthand.”--Ruth Mitchell

(c) 2009 - Ruth Mitchell - all rights reserved


leelee said...

As a former resident of San Francisco, I read your article as an interested third party. That’s a huge statue if it truly weighs in at fifteen tons and is twenty six feet tall. I have been to the Joseph Alioto Performing Arts Plaza once. That place has a real Zen feel to it, so I think that this piece is the perfect match. Isn’t it funny that the art for an American arts plaza isn’t by an American? I hear that Zang Huan resides in Shaghai China. I guess it has something to do with the sister city exchange program. I hope that an American artist gets a chance to leave the American Art stamp on China with a commissioned art sculpture . I’m sure that we have some great American sculptors, who can create on the massive scale also. . For now I’ll check out this behemoth of a multi limbed Buddha when I’m back in San Francisco on business in three months.. I have to say that this is a huge undertaking. I’ll tell you what. It sure is a conversation piece. said...

Thanks for the comments leelee. I'm going to try and see the statue myself on an upcoming visit. I bet there will be an exchange of art, and won't that be marvelous if we can share artistic expression across the globe?