This year's Metropolitan Museum of Art Roof Garden Commission features a very familiar friend—Big Bird.
That's right, the beloved Sesame Street character with feathers and a beak features prominently in the artwork by Alex Da Corte. Dubbed As Long as the Sun Lasts, the commission stands 26 feet tall and seems to balance Big Bird, who is sitting on the moon holding a ladder, on one side and a modern mobile on the other. The sculpture is kinetic, meaning it moves with the wind.
The artwork is simply sublime because it spotlights the wholesome innocence of our favorite feathered friend in a fun, creative way—on top of the most iconic and revered art museum in New York City.
Big Bird is covered in about 7,000 individually placed laser-cut aluminum feathers and perched on a crescent moon with a ladder in hand. According to The Met, it could suggest passage back to Earth or to other galaxies, but he's alone, gazing at the city skyline, which almost feels lonely or melancholic. This feeling is amplified with Da Corte's choice to make Big Bird in blue, rather than in his classic yellow.
"This choice of color also gestures to the artist’s personal associations with Big Bird: growing up partially in Venezuela, he watched the Brazilian version of Sesame Street, in which Big Bird’s counterpart, Garibaldo, was blue," the Met Museum says. "The color also alludes to the 1985 film Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird, in which the character, while out on a road trip, is captured and painted blue by two carnival operators."
The title for the commission comes from a collection of short stories by the Italian author Italo Calvino about the potential of new explorations, the Met Museum says.
The sculpture itself, which is made of a base with three interlocking pieces and a mobile on the opposite side, reminds the viewer of outdoor activity sets by Little Tikes, playing on our nostalgia.
Maybe it's a deeply-rooted love for Big Bird or maybe it's the fact that such a whimsical character now is roosting on The Met's rooftop, but either way, we cannot get enough.
"By tapping icons of art and popular culture from our collective consciousness, Alex Da Corte has created a new type of monument with this commission," said Sheena Wagstaff, the Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art. "Played out between earth and sky via the benign intercessor of a big, anthropomorphic bird, we are offered the divine possibility of innocence and play as a redemptive power that is spirited, absurd, and deadly serious.”
Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Met, said Da Corte's work "oscillates between joy and melancholy and brings a playful message of optimism and reflection. As the sculpture gently rotates in the wind, it calls us in an assuring way to pause and reflect: We are reminded that stability is an illusion, but ultimately what we see is a statement of belief in the potential of transformation."
As Long as the Sun Lasts opens Friday, April 16, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and will be on view through October 31.
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