Monday, June 15, 2015

Johnson and Double Check

Sculpture in Zugotti Park, 2015
Fifteen years ago I have been working  with a consulting company located on Broadway, less than one block  from  Liberty Park  ( Zigotti park) . At lunch time (  when I had time for a lunch and if the weather was good)  I often bought  falafel  from the street cart  and took a seat on the bench  in the park. Every time I had different neighbors, except one, who was always there:  the bronze statue of  a businessman checking his attaché case.

This sculpture, named   Double Check,  was cast by Seward Johnson in 1982.  Since 1968,   one of America's most renowned sculptors  Johnson ,  heir to the Johnson & Johnson health care products fortune, been blurring the line between art and reality with his   sculptures.  A year ago I published post about the sculptor and the park, that he founded - Grounds for Sculpture in New Jersey.

Sculpture in Zugotti Park, 2015
In the middle of August , 2001 I found a new job in Midtown, near the Central Park. Three  weeks after I started  working Twins were attacked.   Liberty Park was completely destroyed , and  Double Check was found covered in debris, sitting on his bench.    The sculpture  was later decorated with candles, flowers, teddy bears, rescue company emblems and crosses by passers-by. People covered the statue with flyers printed with the names of the dead and missing.
Grounds for Sculpture
There were seven originally   casts of  "Double Checks,"  five of which have been sold. The damaged "Double Check" was on loan from Johnson when the planes hit the towers.

Moved by the tributes, Johnson recalled one of the copies that had been on display in Germany   at that time and had it returned to the U.S. via Italy.  Silvio Berlusconi , prime Minister of Italy,  had it set up in Rome, where people covered it with flowers and notes of support and condolence for  New Yorkers.



 
 
 Johnson  collected a number of the post 9/11 tributes added to Double Check, cast them in bronze and welded them to the piece exactly as he had found them. The toxic dust was removed and replaced by a look-a-like patina.  Dubbed the Makeshift Memorial, it was installed in Liberty State Park, overlooking the WTC site from across the Hudson in New Jersey.    In 2006, the original sculpture was returned to its original location, today called Zuccotti Park.

A year ago " Seward Johnson: The Retrospective", opened to the public  in the Park "Grounds for Sculpture",  founded by the artist.   The exhibition  brought record numbers of guests to the park ever since.
A replica of his “Double Check” — the sculpture of a man in a business suit double-checking papers in his briefcase, made famous when it survived the World Trade Center bombings and became a makeshift memorial — has found a home here, situated on a street and covered with dust and debris.  Another replica, this one of the memorial with various rescue workers’ badges and postings, is in an adjacent gallery.


 The Retrospective in Ground for Sculptures   is extended to July 2015 by popular demand.  
 The outdoor elements of the exhibit include 10 monumental scale bronzes, never before brought together in one location.  One of the shows’ most exciting pieces is The Awakening, a 70-foot long giant emerging from the earth whose 17-foot arm extends dramatically into the sky.