There is now a large bronze apple on the median of Park Avenue at 52nd Street, just west of the Seagrams building. The apple is large enough to notice, but not so large that someone giving directions to the apple would say, “You can’t miss it.”
This is the Pomme de New York, which means the Apple of New York, but also sounds a little like the French for potato.
The Pomme is part of a series of sculptures by the in-demand French artists Claude and François-Xavier Lalanne (they were married until he died last year) making an appearance on the strip of green in the middle of Park Avenue. It’s the result of an effort by the Paul Kasmin Gallery, the New York City Parks Department’s public-art division and the Fund for Park Avenue Sculpture Committee.
They are designed to be viewed from the sidewalks.
According to the project’s publicist, Concetta Duncan, it’s a kind of art that’s right for the times.
“Given the economy, this is a really good project, you know,” she said. “It’s free and open to the public.”
On a grey and damp Saturday, Shazia Sadiddi, who is 29 and visiting from Chicago, told me that the apple made her think both of the Big Apple and the Mac apple.
“I’m thinking about what caption I’ll put on this on Facebook,” she said.
In the middle of the same median, between multiple flower beds, is a flock of sheep sculptures. Ms. Duncan said there is a “great juxtaposition to have this beautiful green lawn in the middle of the city with sheep on it.”
The sheep are small and white and have horns. From photographs on the web site sheep101.info, they bear a strong resemblance to Rambouillet rams, “the backbone of the American sheep industry.”
The sculptures get more surreal the further north the pedestrian-viewer goes.
Past the sheep, on 53rd Street, is another bed of flowers, which leads to a large, cheerful-looking ruminant animal, maybe an elk. Across the street from the elk is a fish with a square Corbusier-style window cut through it.
At 56th is a sculpture of what looks like a flower with talons.
At 58th Street is a large bronze ape sitting with one knee up, somewhat like The Thinker but bronzer and less detailed. This is François-Xavier’s last sculpture, which is called Singe Avisé (Très Grand), which translates roughly as “Sensible Monkey (Very Large).”
Across from the taloned flower, a man and a woman were contemplating a bronze rabbit that was standing upright with the help of what looked like a walking cane.
“I like it,” said Andrew, who declined to give his last name, as did his companion, Denise.
They both agreed that they preferred the animals over the flower, which they called the “cabbage chicken.”
“It’s something nice between now and Christmas,” Andrew said.