Art does not necessarily mean to depict what we see around us. It has the power to go beyond that and depict the inexplicable feelings and perceptions that we may experience from time to time. The public artworks are mostly comprised of figures of national leaders, heroes or distinguished individuals who made significant contributions to the country or the society. However, there are certain creatively designed statues and sculptures, which belong to a completely different class and may look weird at the first sight.
Mustangs at Las Colinas, Texas
Mustangs at Las Colinas, which decorates the William Square in Las Colinas, Texas, is a bronze sculpture created by Robert Glen. It depicts a group of wild mustangs running through a watercourse with fountains, giving the effect of water splashed by the animals' hooves. Mustangs were originally Iberian horses brought to the country by the Spanish and today, despite a lot of cross breeding, they still draw their lineage from the original Iberians.
Dallas businessman Ben H. Carpenter, who converted his family ranch into the residential and business development called ‘Las Colinas’ in the early 1970s, intended to decorate the center piece of the commercial development to be a larger-than-life sculpture of wild horses and in 1976, he commissioned African wildlife artist Robert Glen to bring his vision to reality. Working from his studio in Nairobi, Kenya, Glen made scale models of mustangs in various poses, made life-size fiberglass molds of these models and shipped them to a foundry in England. The foundry completed the bronze casting in November 1981 and after the intricate procedure of mounting the figures, the Mustangs of Las Colinas sculpture was dedicated on September 25, 1984.
The wonderful sculpture depicts nine strong horses in a line, as if galloping through a stream bed, while the running water of the stream cascades down into a steep canyon created with granite tiles.
De Vaartkapoen, Belgium
Located in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Belgium, ‘De Vaartkapoen’ is a humorous statue, created in 1985 by Belgian artist Tom Frantzen. It it represents a policeman in old-style uniform, hands outstretched to prevent himself from falling flat on his face because someone, popping out of a manhole, has grabbed his ankle. The scene is straight out of the comic series ‘Quick and Flupke’, featuring two mischievous boys, created by the famous Belgian cartoonist Hergé. It is interesting to note that Hergé is the creator of the famous cartoon characters, like Tintin, Captain Haddock, Professor Calculus and others.
Passage, Wroclaw, Poland
The chilling sculpture, locally known as Przejscie or Passage, in Wroclaw, Poland, depicts a group of 14 lifelike people sinking into the ground on one side of Swidnicka Street, and reemerging on the other side. Known in English as the Monument of the Anonymous Passersby or the Anonymous Pedestrians, it is created by Jerzy Kalina and consists of 14 ordinary citizens, 7 on each side of the street, who are in the process of descending and re-ascending into the sidewalk. Often it is interpreted as a memorial to the citizens who were killed or went missing during the period of martial law in Poland in the 1980s. The bronze monument was installed in December, 2005, which coincided with the 24th anniversary of the onset of martial law in Communist Poland. The infamous martial law drove people underground in fear, and many were arrested in the middle of the night and disappeared. It is believed that, the re-ascending of the pedestrians on the sidewalk represent the re-emergence of Polish citizens when martial law was lifted in 1983.
Les Voyageurs, Marseilles, France
The sculpture is just one of the several bronze sculptures created by a French artist, Bruno Catalano. To celebrate the city of Marseille’s status as the European Capital of Culture 2013, Catalano displayed an extraordinary series of eye-catching bronze sculptures called ‘Les Voyageurs’ at the port of Marseilles in France, that depict realistic human workers with large parts of their bodies missing. As huge chunks of their bodies seem to be completely left out, it seems surprising as to how these sculptures can stand on their own. The missing parts of the sculptures made them truly unusual and gave them a sort of ethereal and surreal appearance. It is believed that, each of the surreal bronze sculptures represents a world citizen who is in search of his or her own missing pieces. It is clear that they are on a journey with a bag or a suitcase with them and as if they are leaving a part of themselves behind or as though they are going somewhere to search for the part of their body that is incomplete.
Le Pouce, Paris, France
Amongst the blur of towering glass skyscrapers in Paris stands this mammoth sculpture in the middle of a straight-laced corporate park. The 40 feet tall and weighing more than 18 tons, ‘The Thumb’ (Le Pouce) was built in 1965 by sculptor César Baldaccini. Today, it is known internationally as a gesture of Good Luck or a Thumbs Up and is visited by thousands of people each year. Initially, for the purpose of an exhibition, Cesar produced a resin mould of his actual thumb and then made a piece of art in metal from that. Later, when he was asked to produce a piece of work for the new Defense area, he designed the large sculpture from the original Thumb. The rear of the massive sculpture even bears the fingerprint of the creator.
Hand of the Desert, Atacama, Chile
About 75km south-east of the town of Antofagasta, the monotony of Atacama desert is suddenly shattered by an 11 m tall human hand, protruding out of the sand. Built in the early 1980s and financed by a local booster organization called Corporación Pro Antofagasta, the motion of hands rising from the ground is an obsession of the Chilean sculptor Mario Irarrázabal. The same idea is expressed in his other famous works, including another over-sized sculpture ‘Monument to the Drowned’ in Uruguay.
Known as Mano del Desierto or the Hand of the Desert, it is an homage to the vulnerabilities and weaknesses of the human soul in the face of injustices and suffering around the world and expresses human frailty, pain and loneliness. Located 1,100 meters above sea level, the 11 m tall, massive and majestic sculpture was built in iron and concrete in order to rough the extreme temperatures of the Atacama Desert.
The Giant Stone Vagina, Tubingen, Germany
Known as ‘Pi-Chacán’ it stands at the end of the Weg der Künste (Street of the Arts), facing the entrances of the Anatomy, Microbiology and Virology buildings of the University of Tubingen. The word chacán means, a place where the action of water has tunneled through a large rock or a mountain, or alternatively ‘lovemaking’. The sculpture, by Peruvian artist Fernando de la Jara, was originally intended to have a pool of water at its base, but budgetary constraints prevented this element of the design from being constructed. Weighing 32 tons and measuring 13.8 X 5.6 x 5.6 feet (4.2 × 1.7 × 1.7 m), the sculpture is made from red Verona marble and represents a woman's vulva. It was dedicated to the study and healing of the human body, inspired the artist to devise a way to celebrate the body.
The sculpture attracted widespread international media attention on 20 June 2014,
when an American exchange student got trapped inside it. When the Tübingen police received an emergency call to the effect that a person is trapped inside a stone vulva, 5 fire engines and 22 firefighters were sent to rescue the student from the sculpture. However, they were able to pull the victim out with their bare hands after about 30 minutes, without the use of a forceps.