List of World’s Worst Public Art Spares New York

marilyn411 List of Worlds Worst Public Art Spares New York

Seward Johnson’s peculiar statue of Marilyn Monroe.

The travel website has compiled a list of the world’s ten worst public artworks, and The Observer is pleased—albeit somewhat surprised—to see that New York’s numerous public artworks managed to avoid the list entirely.

Topping the list is Seward Johnson’s 26-foot-tall statue of actress Marilyn Monroe in a white dress in Chicago, which has rightfully earned the scorn of art critics across the nation, followed close behind by works like a statue of fictional television star Mary Richards in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and a work by Jean Dubuffet in Chicago.

We were somewhat disturbed to see Mark di Suvero’s 40-foot-tall steel sculpture The Calling (1981-1982), which is installed in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on the list. Virtualtourist writes, “[T]hese orange beams of steel inspire a ‘Really?’ in many who view it.” This is sad to hear, since we’re a fan of the piece, which is painted Mr. di Suvero’s trademark orange red.

Surely Mr. di Suvero’s work could have been dropped to make room for Tom Otterness’s bizarre “Life Underground” sculptures, the small, metal top-hatted men who fill the subway station at 14th Street and 8th Avenue. As a colleague points out, one of the works even sits on a wooden seat on the uptown A/C/E platform, obnoxiously filling one of the few seats at that stop.


  1. Margie Searl says:

    I strongly disagree with your criticism of ‘Life Underground’. Tom Otterness’s installation in that dismal space is transformational. It creates a shift in perception such that a grim and unpleasant space and experience become interesting and engaging and in fact lovable. I believe that further research would reveal that seating was added so that the placement of one of the bronzes on a bench would not lessen the number of seats available to riders. My bet is that you are in the minority.

  2. Vesica says:

    Surely there are better things that one can make lists of!

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