The Marlborough Gallery has partnered up with New York City's Department of Parks & Recreation and Department of Transportation to present Manolo Valdes: Monumental Sculpture on Broadway, sixteen large, bronze sculptures by Spanish artist Manolo Valdes exhibited along the stretch of The Broadway Mall from Columbus Circle up to 166th Street. I ventured uptown-west this past weekend and checked out six of the stops on Broadway up to 103rd Street. Each sculpture is located in the center of Broadway on an island situated by a major intersection and a nearby subway station. Each work is conveniently labeled with a sign that includes mobile phone access numbers for English and Spanish audio tours offering information on each piece.
For Valdes' six Reina Mariana sculptures—four located at Columbus Circle and two at 72nd Street—the eight-feet-tall "abstract and simplified forms" (from the press release), the artist depicts Queen Mariana as inspired by paintings by seventeenth-century Spanish painter Diego Velazquez. Also inspired by Velazquez are Valdes' two 2008 equestrian works Dama a Caballo V (located at Columbus Circle) and Caballero V (located at 157th Street). Accompanying the two Reina Marianas at 72nd Street is Odalisca (2006), a large, sideway-reclining head that reminds me of Man Ray's Noire et Blanche (1926) and "whose subtle forms refer to works of Henri Matisse and Pablo Picasso." On view at various locations along the Broadway stretch is a fantastic series of six, 12-feet-high, female heads each wearing serene facial expressions and magnificient, Philip Treacy-worthy, "ornamental head-pieces."
Valdes' dramatic and grand bronze sculptures are a visual treat while traveling along Brodway and nicely add character and life to the medians sandwiched between lanes of heavy traffic. I was lazy last weekend and couldn't motivate to travel beyond 103rd Street (there are four more works placed at 137th, 148th, 157th, and 166th Streets) but I will defintely post more if I can get my butt in gear to check out the rest of the exhibit. Learn more at marlboroughgallery.com. From May 20th - January 23, 2011.