Giant Three-Legged Thing on Big Human Head
Mountainville, New York
Storm King Art Center is a sprawling collection of over 120 large sculptures on a landscape of 500 acres overlooking the Hudson River. Many are abstract: cubes, tubes, triangles. But the most puzzling is more figurative: what we call a Giant Three-Legged Thing Standing on a Big Human Head. Is the head emerging from the ground or sinking into the earth? Why three legs? How did it lose its upper half?
The sculpture was created by Zhang Huan, a Chinese artist who first made his reputation in performance art (he once slathered his naked body with honey and fish oil, then sat in a public toilet inviting flies to crawl all over his body). While traveling in Tibet he encountered broken pieces of Buddhist statuary, casualties of the religious suppression of the Chinese Cultural Revolution. In response, Zhang Huan began a series of gargantuan sculptures evoking these tragically fragmented artifacts.
Three-Legged Buddha (2007) is the official name of the sculpture. The copper and steel figure is 28 feet tall and weighs ten tons.
After making stops in London, Brussels, and Sweden the statue was donated to Storm King in 2010 by the artist and The Pace Gallery. It is installed "in perpetuity," which means it will remain stoically symbolic and frozen in an extremely advanced yoga pose for generations to come.