Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Slavic sculpture in Manhattan

Manhattan is home to several public sculptures and monuments featuring a variety of important Slavs.

One of the easiest to find is the statue of King Ladislas Jagiello of Poland, located at the east shore of Turtle Pond in Central Park near 80th Street. The statue is the work of S.K. Ostrowski and originally featured into the Polish pavilion at the NYC World's Fair. It settled in the park in 1945.

At East 17th Street and N.D. Perlman Place on Stuyvesant Square, you'll also find a monument to Czech composer Anton Dvořák. This one is the work of Yugoslavia's most important sculptor, Ivan Meštrović. The sculpture came to New York more than thirty years ago, originally installed on the roof of Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center.

Even though Dvořák's former home at 327 East 17th Street near Stuyvesant Square had been designated a landmark, the City Council
overturned the designation in 1991 and the building was destroyed soon after. An AIDS hospice currently sits on the site. The statue was erected nearby in 1997.

Another public sculpture of interest is that of Vladimir Lenin that sits atop the Red Square building on East Houston Street.

The grounds of the United Nations, on the East Side, are a treasure trove of Slavic-related sculptures and monuments. Most visible is definitely the statue of St. George that sits on First Avenue near 48th Street. This statue, of the patron saint of Moscow, is the work of Zurab Tsereteli, a Georgian sculptor who completed several large-scale projects in Moscow in the 1990s.

Also on the grounds is "Peace," an equestrian statue by Croatian sculptor Antun Augustinčić, originally a gift to the organization from Yugoslavia. Nearby is a Soviet sculpture, "Let Us Beat Swords into Plowshares." It's also worth pointing out that aside from the statues the public can also see a copy of the Vace Situla from Slovenia and an enormous stained-glass window by Marc Chagal in the visitors lobby.

Unaccessible to the general public is a monument to Saints Cyril and Methodius, a gift of Slovakia. The monument sits just outside the delegates' entrace to the General Assembly building. Also unaccessible to the general public is a statue of Kopernicus from Poland, Croatia's Girl with lute by Ivan Meštrović and also a piece of a medieval fresco from Bulgaria.

(Photos from http://www.nycgovparks.org/)

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