City Hall Park, New York, USA

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Josephine Breese

Marking a distinct presence in downtown Manhattan, Peter Coffin‘s thirteen works of ‘Untitled (Sculpture Silhouettes)’ are discreet in their inconspicuous installation in City Hall Park. The black metal cut-outs of iconic sculptures swing in and out of vision at one inch thick. This allows for bizarre perspectives through trees and over shrubbery, resulting in an animated reappraisal of the originals.

Coffin’s silhouettes range from Michelangelo’s ‘David’ to Rodin’s ‘The Thinker’ to Louise Bourgeois’ ‘Untitled (With Hand)’ and Sol LeWitt’s ‘Incomplete Open Cubes’. These seminal works are humorously reinvented with their stripped contours and new dimensions. For both viewers bringing knowledge of the history of Western art to the pieces as well as those with less awareness of the background, Coffin’s sculptures strike as bizarre and inventive. It is difficult to imagine where else a 13th century Easter Island statue could be mistaken for the profile of a curvy female figure or Picasso’s ‘She Goat’ for a jaunty Disney hero.

Coffin jolts us into joining him in a parody of the art historical canon. The artist rewards the activity of looking anew as opposed to seeing these distinctive sculptures in their preordained lineage. Coffin adheres to the Public Art Fund‘s promotion of a public encounter with artworks by catering for his audience as a whole, denying the necessity for any prior knowledge of art history for an aesthetic appreciation of his sculptures.

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