Richard Dupont’s installation of nine uniquely different, slightly larger-than-life nude sculptural self-portraits at Lever House is one of the most remarkable works of public art ever to appear in New York.
On Friday afternoon, I sat for an hour and watched the public interact with the figures. What I saw was a world of wonder.
Messengers with backpacks rubbed the backs of these beautiful figures for good luck. A mother brought three school boys who delightedly posed for each other with the naked men. There was no sense of ridicule, just the respect you would expect from a classical sculpture of Greek or Roman antiquity.
The figures bend and blend perfectly with the glass and light of Lever House. Their ample penises are works of symmetry without a vulgar note and those viewing them seemed liberated by the phalluses.
Outside in the courtyard, Damien Hirst’s flayed pregnant giantess walked away from the Dupont’s in mock disdain. No matter, as the Duponts have only each other, querying them like blind Tiresias, asking, "Who are we and where are we going."
This installation is a majestic rejoinder to the bric-a-brac Whitney Biennial: one artist, naked men out in public, inviting never-ending, non-didactic curiosity. They should be at Lever House permanently.
Richard Dupont, "Terminal Stage," Mar. 13-May 3, 2008, at Lever House, 390 Park Avenue, New York, N.Y. 10022
CHARLIE FINCH is co-author of Most Art Sucks: Five Years of Coagula (Smart Art Press).