Last night, artist Robert Raphael’s public art work was destroyed by vandals on New York City’s Randall’s Island park. The porcelain sculpture, “Untitled Folly” (2014), made of 53 individual parts, was found this morning thoroughly damaged with only three pieces intact.
The Brooklyn artist was informed early this morning and was still in shock when he spoke to Hyperallergic this evening. “An administrator of Randall’s Island emailed me this morning to tell me what happened last night, and I had to immediately get out there and talk to him,” he told Hyperallergic.
The sculpture was unveiled on May 18 as part of the Flow.14 annual art exhibition, which is jointly organized by the Randall’s Island Park Alliance, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, and Made Event, and it was expected to be on display until November 15, when the exhibition was scheduled to close.
Raphael explains that the work, which was installed under the Triborough Bridge, was his first public art commission and the largest work he has created to date. It took him nine months to complete the sculpture.
“The fact that it was ceramic was a concern [for the organizers] from the beginning, but my answer to them was ‘it is a strong material and it depends on how you use it,’” he says.
Raphael filed a police report about the incident, and though he knows the NYPD has taken DNA samples and fingerprints from the site, he holds little hope of them catching the culprits. “It’s a public art work, and I can’t imagine how many people have touched it,” he says.
Initially park administrators thought the vandals may have used a bat or other instrument to destroy the work, but Raphael thinks they could’ve easily used the rocks found on the shore nearby.
“I knew I was putting it out there in the world, and I was expecting wear and tear, even some damage, but I never imagined that this would happen,” he says. “It’s a material I’m dedicated to and it’s a cross I choose to bear … I’m still very interested in doing large-scale work. It won’t deter me.”
The park, which closes at midnight, has little surveillance, and can easily be accessed by car and a footbridge throughout the night. The commission cost $10,000 in total, of which the artist will receive $3,000 as a fee after the exhibition closes.
This is the fourth year for the Flow public art project, and this marks the first major incident of vandalism associated with the annual exhibition.
Memories So Fair and Bright
Kimetha Vanderveen’s paintings are about the interaction of materiality and light, the bond between the palpable and ephemeral world in which we live.
Artists Contemplate Sovereignty in Santa Fe
The Santa Fe Art Institute’s 2024 International Thematic Residency focuses on what sovereignty means for artists from across the world.
When I Am Empty Please Dispose of Me Properly
Ayanna Dozier, Ilana Harris-Babou, Meena Hasan, Lucia Hierro, Catherine Opie, Chuck Ramirez, and Pacifico Silano explore the myths of the American Dream at Brooklyn’s BRIC House.
How Did Early Modern European Craftspeople Pass On Their Knowledge?
A new book about object making critically examines a written history of working with materials.
Dual Portrait of Old Master Rachel Ruysch Holds a Trove of Secrets
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has just acquired the rare painting, which depicts the Dutch artist at work surrounded by her signature flora.
Pratt’s 2023 Fine Arts MFA Thesis Exhibition Is On View in Brooklyn
The two-part exhibition features the work of 41 graduating artists across disciplines, including painting, sculpture, printmaking, and integrated practices.
Did Van Gogh’s Disdain for the Eiffel Tower Inspire “Starry Night”?
Art historian James Hall argues that van Gogh replaced the Eiffel Tower with a towering cypress tree and its inaugural light shows with the night sky.
Greek Museum Welcomes Dogs For World Stray Animal Day
Furry friends and their pawrents can visit Athens’s National Museum of Contemporary Art for free this weekend.
The Milton Resnick and Pat Passlof Foundation Presents The Feminine in Abstract Painting
Curated by Jennifer Samet and Andrea Belag, this group exhibition in NYC explores the feminine through aesthetics, as opposed to identity or gender.
Ai Weiwei Recreates Monet’s “Water Lilies” Using 650,000 LEGOS
It’s the artist’s largest LEGO artwork to date.
Did a Simpsons Episode Predict the Florida “David” Outrage?
The episode, which aired 30 years ago, made a dark prediction about conservative politics in 2023.
NYU Steinhardt Opens 2023 MFA Thesis Exhibitions
Taking place at 80WSE Gallery in New York’s Greenwich Village, Part I is on view from late March through April while Part II opens in May.
Coasting the Topography of South Asian Futurisms
As part of Hyperallergic’s Emily Hall Tremaine Journalism Fellowship for Curators, Sadaf Padder presents an exhibition to offer insight into her curatorial process.
I’m a Florida Drag Queen and I’m Scared
I’m truly at a loss for what to do for work and what kind of life I can expect to live.
That is so awful. I’m can’t imagine how he feels. I hope they catch them.
As any ceramicist knows breaking ceramic is extremely satisfying, so at least the vandal(s) got some satisfaction, not that I condone their actions, just sayin’. Looks like these tiles needed a solid backing, then they would have been harder to smash and less satisfying. Don’t give up the large scale ceramics Robert!
Def. should have used 1/2″ ply, thinset, and backer board. Those rocks would’ve bounced off the tiles.
There is always that inherent risk that a ceramic piece will collapse while forming, split while drying, explode in the kiln, or crash to pieces while being handled. It sucks that it was some jerk with a rock who destroyed this one. I would want to smash their faces in if I were him.
Comments are closed.