Saturday, February 16, 2013

Roadside Attraction: Big, Big Penny - NY, NY

Interesting Places I've Photographed
Big, Big Penny
New York, NY
Topic: Roadside Attraction

GPS: N40° 45.760; W073° 58.859

Quick Description: 

The Big, Big Penny sculpture is in the lobby of the 1325 Avenue of the Americas Building in midtown Manhattan.

Long Description:

The entrance to the lobby of the the 1325 Avenue of the Americas Building is not on the Avenue of the Americas, what New Yorkers still refer to as 6th Avenue. To find it you must, in fact, go to the north side of 53rd Street between 7th Avenue and 6 1/2 Avenue. Yes, there is a 6 1/2 Avenue in this area of Manhattan.

Big, Big Penny is one of renown pop art sculptor Tom Otterness whimsical creations. A 6' high by 5.5' wide by 1' thick giant copy of the tail side of a Lincoln Memorial penny is embellished with his signature mini-people. The Big Big Penny near the north wall of the lobby and is the same, tails, on both sides so you need not work your way around the back. The bronze sculpture was created in 1993.

As in much of Otterness' work, the sculpture goes beyond pop art. It is an allegorical and humorous depiction of the common man's struggling through life. The giant penny represents big money. Riding high, on top of the giant penny, are three mini-people who, with their top-hats and champagne glasses, represent the wealthy. A smaller figure, perhaps a domestic worker, is shown supporting the wealthy woman. At the bottom right of the penny are three workers, in hard hats, attempting to roll the penny while fourth person, on the lower right, is being crushed by the large penny.

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