In its history, Central Park hadn't had a sculpture of a real-life woman until last year, when the Women’s Rights Pioneers Monument was installed.
Now, Central Park has a new female figure at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza at Fifth Avenue and 60th Street.
A life-size (five feet, six inches) bronze sculpture of photographer Diane Arbus stands with her camera pointed at the oncoming crowds as she might've been seen in the 1950s and 60s. Her finger is on the shutter button and her shoes have been painted to humanize the sculpture. A plaque features a quote from Arbus:
"If you scrutinize reality closely enough, if in some way you really, really get to it, it becomes fantastic."
The sculpture, brought to the park by the Public Art Fund, is by artist Gillian Wearing, who has a coinciding exhibit at the Solomon R. Guggenheim museum called "Gillian Wearing: Wearing Masks," which opens on November 5.
Wearing created a photo in 2008 called "Me as Arbus," in which she paid homage to the photographer by recreating an iconic portrait of Arbus.
Both artists are drawn to people and reflect the human condition with candor, empathy and compassion, the Public Art Fund says. By creating the sculpture at eye level, Wearing aims to get across the "human approach" Arbus took in photography and gives visibility to women within a male-dominated tradition of public statues.
"An artist best known for her exploration in photography and video of the complex and fluid nature of human identity, Gillian Wearing's embrace of cast bronze statuary may be unexpected. Yet the unexpected is precisely what has fascinated Wearing all along," said Nicholas Baume, the Public Art Fund's artistic and executive director, in a statement. "In her bronze 'Diane Arbus,' we see the posthumous homage to a pioneering artist by another from a different time and place. We also see a modest, unassuming figure, standing at the entrance to Central Park, recognizable by the most distinctive attribute of her public self: her Rolleiflex camera."
The sculpture of Diane Arbus will be up through August 14, 2022, at Central Park.