Art is a way of expressing ones emotions. For centuries, prolific men and women have used it to represent their views or acknowledge and address an issue within society. From politics to human rights, there are sculptures across the globe that are unique in conveying the message to the viewer. These amazing pieces of artworks are capable of changing ones view of the world. Here, we have gathered 10 such unique works from famous artists that address some of the issues on our planet.
1. The Dramatic Hands trying to save Venice from drowning by Lorenzo Quinn.
Venice is without doubt one of the most famous cities in the world. The floating city is built on a group of islands, that are connected by bridges. The city was actually built on top of wooden stilts instead of land. Today, it is one of the biggest tourist destinations in the world, but the floating city is also sinking at a rate of 1 to 2 millimeters each year. Rising sea levels are causing floods in the city on a regular basis and an engineering project is underway to control the tides that are 9cm above regular height. These tides are causing the towns to flood.
In 2017, Lorenzo Quinn created this beautiful sculpture that depicts a pair of colossal hands rising out of the Grand Canal to hold up the Ca’ Sagredo Hotel. The stark white hands look like a submerged Atlas was created by Quinn as a figurative and a physical support to Venice. Quinn wanted to use his ability to open doors for discussion about climate change, global warming, and cultural heritage.
2. Maman, by Louise Bourgeois, is a 30-foot-tall steel spider sculpture, crafted of bronze, marble, and stainless steel. The sculpture represents a female spider who carries her white marble eggs beneath her; casting a powerful physical and psychological shadow.
Louise Bourgeois was always known for diving into the depths of human emotion. The artist was 95-years-old when she designed the sculpture that looks like a creature that had escaped from a nightmare. The giant spider Maman is the embodiment of a secret childhood fear that is capable of casting a powerful physical and psychological shadow.
The ambitious sculptor plumbed to the depths of human emotion further and more passionately than perhaps any other artist of her time. According to several reports, the sculpture is an explicit reference to painful childhood memories of an unfaithful father and a loving but complicit mother. Maman is associated with the artist’s own mother who protected her throughout her life, but she herself was vulnerable to the pain and misery surrounding her.
3. The Heart of Trees by Jaume Plensa are self-portraits of the artist, cast in bronze, with arms and legs wrapped around the trunks. For Plensa, the body becomes a vessel for information, a surface on which to record words.
The Heart of Trees are self-portraits that feature the artist himself. Slightly over life size, with their arms and legs wrapped around a tree trunk, the sculptures are embracing nature and reflects his desire to connect with people and to reassert the importance of touch. The artwork relates to the cycle of life that is the growth of a tree, which starts from the soil, grows and flourishes, then dies, decays and returns to the soil to support new saplings.
Through the artwork, Plensa hopes to send the message that something exceptional can be produced from a simple beginning. The figures were inscribed with names of composers, including Ludwig van Beethoven, Béla Bartók, and George Gershwin. By naming particular composers, the viewer’s own memories of hearing songs are brought into the experience of the work, providing an interactive dimension to the sculptures, which are placed in a new context each time they are displayed.
4. The Force of Nature by Lorenzo Quinn is a series of sculptures that depict mother nature hurling planet Earth in circles.
After witnessing the destruction caused by hurricanes in Thailand, Southern US and all around the world, Italian sculptor Lorenzo Quinn started creating a series of sculptures titled ‘Force of Nature’. The sculptures, made using bronze, stainless steel and aluminum, depicts mother nature hurling planet earth around in circles.
Through his sculptures, Quinn hopes to remind us of the power of nature and our “false sense of security” towards it. The sculptures that are installed all around the world remind us that at any moment in time, nature’s wrath could be awakened, bringing with it sudden destruction.
5. The Kelpies is a sculpture of colossal Clydesdale horse heads that tower 30 meters over Helix Park, Falkirk, Scotland. The world’s largest pair of equine sculptures were designed to pay homage to the working horses of Scotland.
Completed in 2013, the majestic sculptures were designed as a homage to the working horses of Scotland, which used to pull barges along Scotland’s canals and worked in the fields in the area where they now stand. The sculptures cost a total of £5m, weigh more than 300 tons, and are considered a “masterpiece” of public art.
Artist Andy Scott, who is already well-known for his signature sculptures of working horses, was inspired to create this masterpiece after reading up on stories of how the horses efficiently carried barges of iron ore, coal and goods from Falkirk’s world-famous Carron Iron Works, along the canal to the bustling industrial hearts of Edinburgh, Glasgow and beyond.
6. Passage by Jerzy Kalina depicts a group of 14 lifelike people sinking into the ground and reemerging on the other side. The sculptures are interpreted as a memorial to the citizens who lost their lives or went missing during a period of martial law in Poland.
The sculpture known as Przejście (meaning “Passage” or “Transition”) was created by artist Jerzy Kalina. Consisting of 14 ordinary citizens, 7 on each side of the street, descending and re-ascending into the sidewalk, the bronze monument was installed in December of 2005, as part of the 24th anniversary of the onset of martial law in Communist Poland.
The martial law that stood from December of 1981 to July of 1983, forced many innocent people to hide underground in fear. Hundreds were also arrested in the middle of the night, never to be seen again. According to the artist, the pedestrians rising out of the sidewalk on the other side of the street is believed to represent the re-emergence of Polish citizens when the law was lifted in 1983.
7. The Unknown Official, also called the Unknown Bureaucrat, by Magnus Tomasson, was built to symbolize the everyday “faceless” city officials on their way to work.
Many countries have monuments to honor soldiers, famous politicians, actors or even activists, but in the capital of Iceland, Reykjavik, you will come across an unusual monument honoring the bureaucracy called the “Unknown official”. The statue of a man wielding a briefcase, walking toward city hall, was wielded in 1994 to honor the works of the country’s officials. Perhaps the artist is depicting their importance, since Iceland has no standing army and they are the next best thing the country has had. It’s up to the viewer to decide whether the statue is a serious tribute or a humorous one.
8. “Les Voyageurs” or The Travelers, by Bruno Catalano are life-sized, figurative sculptures that represent a world of citizens who are in search of his or her own missing pieces.
French artist Bruno Catalano has created an extraordinary series of bronze sculptures called “Les Voyageurs” in Marseilles. The sculptures depict realistic human workers with large parts of their bodies missing. Visitors are left scratching their heads as to how these sculptures can exactly stand on their own. The skillful works of art are truly extraordinary and unique since they are pieced together with very little support. Only ten such sculptures exist that represent a world citizen who’s in search of his or her own missing pieces.
9. Le Pouce, by César Baldaccini, is a super realistic sculpture of a giant thumb in Paris’ La Défense.
The iconic sculpture of a 40-foot thumb is located in a financial district in Paris, France. Weighing more than 18 tons, “Le Pouce,” or “The Thumb” was built in 1965 by César Baldaccini, who was well-known for his emphasis on resizing and reshaping objects. The thumb is an expanded version of his own thumb and fingerprints. In order to achieve the gigantic sculpture, César took a mold of his thumb and then enlarged it to gigantic proportion. Today, different versions of his thumb can be seen across the globe.
10. “De Vaartkapoen” or “Policeman Being Tripped”, created by Belgian artist Tom Frantzen, is a humorous statue of a policeman being tripped by a man hiding in a sewer manhole.
Created in 1985 by the Belgian artist Tom Frantzen, the artist appreciates the “zwanze”, a unique form of humor, which he thinks is characterized by the absurdity and surrealism that stem from the mixture of languages typical of Brussels. The humorous statue of a policeman being tripped by a man hiding in a sewer manhole is located in Sint-Jans-Molenbeek, Brussels.