The internationally renowned artist Tom Otterness will bring his 36-foot long outdoor sculpture Gulliver to the SUNY New Paltz campus this Thursday, May 15. The outdoor sculpture will remain on campus through the end of 2014. Gulliver will be located on the Fine Art Building Plaza at the center of campus, near the Sojourner Truth Library.
Gulliver is a 3,500-pound bronze sculpture of Tom Swift’s famous protagonist in “Gulliver’s Travels” (1726). The Gulliver figure, which consists of a short, geometric torso and long tubular legs ending in large feet surrounded by smaller figures, humorously depicts Gulliver’s capture by the Lilliputians. The playful Gulliver is in Otterness’s recognizable cartoon-like style, familiar in public spaces around the country, including New York City’s subway system and Battery Park City.
“Tom Otterness may be the world’s best public sculptor,” critic Ken Johnson wrote in the New York Times when reviewing Gulliver in a gallery exhibition in 2002. A true storyteller, Otterness combines stylized bronze figures into sculptural ensembles that explore the range of human experience, from grand ambition to human foibles, plucking imagery and themes from popular culture and subtly transforming them into humorous commentary.
Gulliver is being presented in conjunction with the exhibition Dick Polich: Transforming Metal into Art, which opens at the Samuel Dorsky Museum of Art on Aug. 27. The exhibition is the first to explore the enormous legacy of Polich, the founder and owner of major art foundries in the Hudson Valley since the late 1960s. Gulliver was cast and fabricated in 2002 at the Tallix Art Foundry, which Polich established in 1970. Dick Polich: Transforming Metal into Art will include work by artists Roy Lichtenstein, Nancy Graves, Isamu Noguchi, Martin Puryear, Joel Shapiro and others. Organized by Daniel Belasco, the Dorsky Museum curator of exhibitions and programs, the exhibition will also include a series of small-scale sculptures by Otterness, who has created work with Polich for 30 years.