UPPER WEST SIDE — A cast of surreal and vivid creatures has encircled Lincoln Center's iconic fountain as part of new public art exhibit.
The exhibit, called "Melt to Earth" by Los Angeles-based artist Aaron Curry, features 14 large-scale aluminum sculptures that stand interspersed through the main plaza, in stark contrast to the center's beige arches.
"[The exhibit] turns our rather monochromatic campus into a playful, joyful experience," said Katherine Farley, Lincoln Center's chairwoman, of the exhibit that opened Monday and runs through January 6.
Curry, 41, said the sculptures — the tallest of which rises 18-feet high — are representational and life-like, while also appearing abstract and inspired by Cubism.
"It was almost as if a play or a ballet or an opera had spilled out into the space," said Curry, who characterized the plaza as his largest canvas so far.
Inspiration for the monster-like forms came to Curry from reading comic books as a child, as well as the work of Picasso and Matisse, he said.
The exhibit's name, "Melt to Earth," is meant to evoke "the title of a sci-fi novel or a movie," the artist noted. It also references the misshapen droop of some of the figures and Curry's sense that "eventually these sculptures will decay no matter what."
For now, the sculptures are sturdy enough to handle all the elements and the steady flow of visitors, said Curry, who described them as "really durable."
Observing the installation of the large sculptures this past week as they were unloaded over the course of four nights, the artist said he was excited to see the first few people interact with them.
"There's a primitive energy that [people] can relate to," he said.
For Curry, who has exhibited in major galleries and museums in Europe and the U.S., the chance to showcase his work in a large, public setting "was refreshing," he added.
"I don't think everything should be put in a white box," he said.
To expand access to the sculptures, "there's talk of [the exhibit] maybe traveling," but nothing specific has been planned, Curry said.
The piece is supported by private foundations and individual donations to Lincoln Center, Levy said.