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Giant Head in Madison Square Park to Stay Through September

By Jill Colvin | August 2, 2011 3:46pm
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

FLATIRON — The giant, glowing head that has mesmerized visitors at Madison Square Park throughout the summer is planning an extended stay.

Jaume Plensa’s "Echo," a massive, 44-foot-tall sculpture depicting the head and face of a 9-year-old girl Plensa knew in Spain, had originally been scheduled to be taken down next week.

But now the work, which has earned rave review from park-goers, will continue to grace the lawn through Sept. 11 as the final touches are put on its replacement, a spokesman for the Madison Square Park Conservancy said.

"Jaume Plensa's 'Echo' has been embraced by everyone from park neighbors to visitors from far and wide," the Conservancy said in a statement.

"In light of its popularity, we wanted to ensure that people visiting New York City over the Labor Day holiday weekend would have a chance to see this monumental work in person and so extended the exhibition an additional three weeks."

Alison Saar, Treesouls (1994).
Alison Saar, Treesouls (1994).
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James O. Milmoe/Denver Art Museum

The sculpture will be replaced in September by a collection of new faces — this time from award-winning artist Alison Saar.

Saar’s "Feallen and Fallow" will feature four larger-than-life statues of female figures depicting the four seasons. The works, cast in bronze, draw inspiration from the ancient myth of Persephone and are meant to take visitors on a journey through the year.

Spring is represented by an adolescent girl perched on a tree trunk, her hair obscuring her face as moths hatch from cocoons around her; summer is depicted as a pregnant women whose womb is filled with fireflies; fall is represented as a woman with a head of branches who clutches her skirt, which is brimming with fruit; and winter is depicted as a woman curled up at rest in the fetal position, according to early sketches from Saar.

The Los Angeles-based artist said the striking poses were inspired in part by the park, which has long welcomed public art.

“When I lived a few blocks from Madison Square Park I’d often stroll through and was always amazed by the transformation of the park throughout the year. Not only with the fall foliage and the barren winters, but also how the park itself would be bustling in the summer and nearly dormant in the winter,” she said in a statement.

"'Feallan and Fallow' depicts the seasons, but also speaks of our physical maturation and the ebb and flow of creativity," she added.

The exhibit will also feature two of Saar’s older works, two 14-foot “Treesouls,” which were part of a previous exhibition. Made of sculpted wood with copper cladding, the sculptures depict a young man and woman “whose legs dissolve into the earth as a web of searching roots.” It will be positioned to blend with the park's existing trees.

Saar previously served as artist-in-residence at the Studio Museum in Harlem, and her work has been displayed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Modern Art and the Whitney Museum of American Art.

'Feallen and Fallow' will be on display in the park from Sept. 22 through Dec. 31.