Does any one group of people have more (usually lighthearted) derision and distaste to throw at new public art than New Yorkers? Early on Wednesday morning, a 186-kilogram, 24 karat gold cube made by the artist Niclas Castello was installed in Central Park for the day, and it only took a short time for armchair critics to rip the work apart. Touted as a “socle du monde” or base of the world sculpture, Castello’s cube was guarded by a team of security guards; the material that makes up the cube is said to be worth approximately $11.7 million. According to Artmajeur, after its stint in the park, the cube has been moved and is currently “on display at a Wall Street private dinner.”
Perhaps inevitably, Castello is also launching an NFT, a “Castello Coin,” in tandem with the cube’s debut on February 21st. Castello told Artnet that the work is “a conceptual work of art in all its facets,” and that his aim was to “create something that is beyond our world—that is intangible.” It’s notable that gold is perhaps one of the world’s most tangible and valuable assets, and it’s also fair to say that many commentators didn’t seem to be on the same wavelength as the artist’s lofty aspirations.
“For nearly 1 in 8 adults with children in the US, their households did not have enough food for everyone in the last 7 days,” author Danya Ruttenberg wrote while quote tweeting an image of the cube. “Between 5 and 9 million kids in the US live in a household where kids didn’t eat enough because the household couldn’t afford it.”
Others, predictably, went straight for the jokes: “If you ever feel like maybe you’re not good enough, just remember that there’s an artist out there who had access to $11.7 million in gold and the best he could come up with was a cube.”