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Art in a corporate setting has a bad rep. Show me a bank reception and I’ll show you a daffy, nondescript bronze selected mainly for its studiously uncontroversial attributes. Sculpture in the City, however, is a different affair. Returning for its ninth edition, it transforms the Square Mile into a giant outdoor sculpture park. And the best bit is that the art on show is genuinely worth seeing, whether you’re rushing past on the daily commute or have made a trip to Liverpool Street on a dedicated art voyage.
Here are five artworks not to miss:
‘Reclining Nude I’ by Kevin Francis Gray
Kevin Francis Gray’s ‘Reclining Nude I’ looks like a classical sculpture carved from a giant slab of royal icing that’s been squidged, squeezed, poked and prodded by a pâtissier with anger issues. In fact, it’s made from statuario marble and the indented handprints make you want to grab the nearest blob of plasticine and squelch it out between your fingers. Make sure you nip around to the back to admire its rather fine derriere as well.
‘Bridging Home’ by Do Ho Suh
One of a collection of sculptures hanging around for another year, ‘Bridging Home’ by Do Ho Suh was originally unveiled in 2018. Based on the traditional Korean home the artist was raised in, the structure leans over the edge of a bridge crossing Wormwood Street. It’s one of the most well-integrated artworks in the area, and its precarious position above the grey dual carriageway only adds to its fragile beauty.
‘Climb’ by Juliana Cerqueira Leite
Another artwork still standing from last year. To fully appreciate Juliana Cerqueira Leite’s ‘Climb’ you need to know how it was made. Its creation started with the artist physically heaving herself through a three-tonne tube of wet clay like an artistic mole. The resulting tunnel was later cast in plaster and imprinted with her hands, feet, elbows and knees, which is what you see standing tall in the City. It’s gloriously unsettling and weirdly transfixing.
‘Botanic’ by Jennifer Steinkamp
Jennifer Steinkamp’s ‘Botanic’ is art that makes you go: ‘ooooooooh!’ Because oooooh it’s really pretty! And oooooooh you don’t expect it to be occupying the entire ceiling space in the semi-outdoor plaza of 120 Fenchurch Street. Inspired by wildflower seedlings sewn at Stanford Hospital, this massive video screen shows the plants morphing and moving across a black background and oooooooh! Just look up and: ooooooh!
‘Site of the Fall: study of the renaissance garden: Action 180: At 9:15am Sunday 28 May 1967’ by Reza Aramesh
Inspired by reportage images from the Vietnam War, Reza Aramesh’s sculpture is carved from carrara marble. Its classical art reference points are easy to detect, but the disconcerting thing is how the perfectly smooth Adonis qualities contrast with the figure’s modern outfit, particularly the sweatshirt cuffs and boxer short waistband, and the possibly pre-execution head covering. Located next to the Gherkin, it’s a pleasingly disruptive addition to the slick city landscape.
Find more of this year's Sculpture in the City programme here.
Plan more great trips to see art with our guide to the best art exhibitions in London.