So far this year, I’ve managed to track down some impressive works of hidden art – art which thousands of people no doubt walk past every day without knowing they’re so close. Today I found another piece I’d never realised was there before – although this one was a little easier to spot.
After work, I met Ryan and we headed a few blocks north to LaGuardia Square between Houston and Bleecker on West Broadway. As we turned the corner towards a student housing quad, a looming Picasso sculpture emerged in the centre of the square – sparking an ‘ooooh’ between us. The sculpture is 67 tons and huge, with one of Picasso’s angular faces – almost like a horse – stretching across the front and a different, more human face on the back.
The sculpture, the Bust of Sylvette, made the quad its home in 1968. While it’s based on a smaller folded metal sculpture by Picasso, it was actually constructed on this scale by Norwegian sculptor, Carl Nesjar. Despite this, it’s still considered a Picasso work, making it the only one in the city.
We wandered around and admired its massive scale as we guessed at how the concrete had been lined with the black pebbles. After a Google, we found out it used the Betograve sand-blasting technique, which involves pouring concrete into a cast filled with tightly packed gravel and then sand-blasting away lines of the concrete to expose that gravel. It’s a technique that has been used most widely in the Picasso-Nesjar partnership, and it left this huge work with bumpy exposed stones that made me want to touch it.
This was a great find – mostly for the feeling when we first spotted it. It’s definitely worth nipping through the quad if you’re wanting a shortcut with a side of art.