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Life-size knight sculptures are taking over the Cloisters Lawn

Rebecca Fontana

I have the pride, the privilege, nay, the pleasure of introducing to you to a knight. Or, three knights. 

ARMORS is a new outdoor art installation coming to the Cloisters Lawn this May, and three of its figures replicate the 16th century armor found at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The statues were created by Icelandic sculptor Steinunn Thorarinsdottir, who’s known for the figures of androgynous folks she’s placed at iconic landmarks across the globe, including in Reykjavík outside Hallgrímskirkja church and Hammarskjöld Plaza near Second Avenue in NYC back in 2011

The new installation, created in collaboration with NYC Parks' Art in the Parks program, will be found in Fort Tryon Park near the Cloisters and Washington Heights, and it will feature three pairs of statues. Each pair will have a knight facing one of Thorarinsdottir's nude figures. 

Now remember, ancient Viking warriors in Scandinavia did not wear metal armor—they occasionally wore mail, but not a full suit—so these suits of armor were a brand-new project for Thorarinsdottir. She studied with one of the Met's Department of Arms and Armor veteran curator, Donald La Rocca, to choose three of the museum's knights in Gallery 371 that were worthy of replication. 

After 3D scans were taken of the Met's knights, they were then crafted out of aluminum. Thorarinsdottir modeled each nude figure as a direct response to each distinct suit of armor, and all six were then brought to the Cloisters Lawn. 

Photograph: R. Garland; Renderings: Steinunn Thorarinsdottir Studio

“Ancient armors are in themselves sculptural forms. They were developed for war but they give a sharp insight into the psyche of man," Thorarinsdottir said in a statement. "I wanted to merge medieval armors and ageless, androgynous figures in away that would speak to the human condition today and in the past.”

The ARMORS exhibition is free, and it opens on May 9 after a reception at 5pm. You can go see it through September 13. If the last time you went to the Cloisters was on a middle school field trip to see the unicorn tapestry, now is your excuse to return. 

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