Best Of

Best Temporary Public Sculpture That Should Be Made Permanent


Any new work by the American sculptor Martin Puryear will always rank among the best of that year, but Big Bling — the temporary public sculpture that’s presided over Madison Square Park since May — deserves special notice. Standing forty feet tall, the sculpture is the artist’s largest to date. Whereas some public art can feel like an imposition — or a plain nuisance — Big Bling‘s monumental presence is slyly, almost seamlessly woven into the cityscape by virtue of its organic, architectural form and comparatively modest materials: wood, fiberglass, chain-link fence, and acrylic gold leaf. Its abstract figure recalls an animal seated on its hind legs, a thick gold shackle piercing its head — the titular “big bling.” Infused with the specter of slavery, the sculpture reframes one’s view of the city and its relationship to capital. Bling is proof of money, whether you put it on yourself or someone else has put it on you. Any way you polish it, a shackle is a shackle, no matter how precious its metal, or how blinding its gleam. Big Bling is a monument New York needs to keep around. 

Through April 2, 2017

Madison Square Park, Manhattan