Double Takes

In her latest public-art project, entitled “Ordinary People,” sculptor Christel Lechner has situated some 80 life-sized and life-like concrete figures at various locations in Hamm, Germany’s Maximilian Park – much to the delight of surprised passerby, many of whom have already encountered Lechner’s creations at other parks, squares, even the rooftops of buildings, throughout the region.

Her work sort of follows in the footsteps of another artist I recall, Duane Hanson (1925-1996), a celebrated sculptor associated with the “photorealist” movement, and whose pieces (like Tourists II from 1988, pictured below), apart from their startling realism, were often wry commentaries on contemporary society. Somewhat of a quiet phenomenon, Hanson’s connection with the public was loudly borne out by the Whitney Museum’s still-unsurpassed attendance record (297,000) for his solo exhibition there in 1978.

Some argue that these versions of reality art aren’t really art at all, but more like borderline kitsch; as always, it remains in the eye of the beholder…

[Interesting blog piece here about the restoration of one of Hanson’s signature works, Janitor (1973), currently on view at the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis.]

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