Artist Zaq Landsberg’s 2,000-pound “Reclining Liberty” (2021) has made quite a splash since it touched down in Harlem two years ago. The 25-foot statue’s presence in Upper Manhattan and its later voyage to Jersey City prompted a steady stream of local news stories and social media posts showing visitors touching, climbing on, and posing in front of the public work. Now, Landsberg’s sculpture is spending its final city days in the Red Hook neighborhood of Brooklyn before it heads to Virginia’s Museum of Contemporary Art Arlington (MoCA Arlington).
Landsberg molded his enormous sculpture using plaster resin and then coated it with copper paint and oxidizing acid to match the appearance of the real Statue of Liberty, which has weathered the New York City elements since it was unveiled on Liberty Island in 1886. Landsberg’s statue is inspired by depictions of the reclining Buddha, which show the figure in the moments before his entry into parinirvana, the state of transcendence after death.
In April 2021, Landsberg’s sculpture was installed in Harlem’s Morningside Park. A little over a year later, the work moved to Liberty State Park in Jersey City, where it rested with its back to the Lower Manhattan skyline. Nearby, tourists boarded the ferry to the real Statue of Liberty.
On June 6, the sculpture was transported to Andrew Logan Projects in Red Hook. (The move involved a truck, a shipping container, and a crane.) “Reclining Liberty” went on view on June 8 for a quick two-week stint in the first-floor gallery space. It will close to the public Saturday, June 24. Before it arrives in Virginia, however, the massive artwork will need to be cleaned and repaired.
“It’s just in there as is,” Landsberg said of the sculpture’s display in the Red Hook gallery. “Showing all the love, all the wear and tear, and all the battle scars that hundreds of thousands of members of the public gave her in New Jersey.” The artist added that parts of the “Reclining Liberty” are shiny from where viewers have touched it.
Landsberg will begin cleaning the piece on Monday, June 26. The refinishing process will be completed at Andrew Logan’s Canal Street Studios location in Bucks County, Pennsylvania.
Then, in August, the “Reclining Liberty” will arrive at MoCA Arlington. The exhibition (and the sculpture’s move) is co-sponsored by the museum and Arlington Public Art.
Although “Reclining Liberty” is heading out, eager visitors can still view a version of it within the five boroughs: A real estate company commissioned Landsberg to create a replica for an office park in Staten Island. While the 2022 installation is significantly less scenic than the original setups in the forested Morningside Park and the harborside Liberty State Park, a little piece of the relaxing New York City icon will remain in the city it was born in.