A sad clown, an army of marble monkeys, and a pair of beach-ready (if metal) footwear by City Hall Fountain; these are just some of the cast of characters who make up "Lightness of Being," the Public Art Fund's new sculpture exhibition at City Hall Park.
The works on display embody "lightness" both literally and metaphorically.Olaf Breuning's marble-and-bronze monkeys have an ironic title: The Humans. Their flabbergasted expressions inspired many at the opening last Thursday to take pictures alongside them, adding another dimension to the title. There were plenty of other photo ops, too. Ugo Rondinone's performance piece dog days are over consists of a portly clown sitting in various spots around the park on Fridays from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. David Shrigley's Metal Flip Flops, casually left next to the giant fountain, seem to invite onlookers to jump in—just like, presumably, the mysterious absent flip-flop wearer. And Daniel Buren's Suncatcher soars skyward, with a tilted overhang patterned with summery hues.
The exhibition's title comes from Milan Kundera's famed novel The Unbearable Lightness of Being: "Like that book, we hope that the exhibition reminds us that even moments of profound experience can be lighter than air," Nicholas Baume, director and chief curator of the Public Art Fund, said. But the exhibition has another inspiration: the one-year anniversary of Franz West's death coincided with the official opening. Baume spoke of how the irreverent spirit of West's work, which was frequently a part of Public Art Fund programming, also served as a genesis for the show. An untitled 2012 work by the late artist, consisting of pastel-colored totem-like globs, appears in the park. It's a fitting tribute to the theme.