In May, Midtown’s very own, very famous LOVE sculpture mysteriously disappeared in a cloud of plywood and caution tape, leaving no explanation as to its whereabouts and no indication of its future plans. Robert Indiana’s famous red sculpture, created in 1970, had become a fixture on the corner of 55th Street and 6th Avenue, reliably drawing long lines of tourists all clamoring for selfies. What will they pose with, now that there is no LOVE? What will fill the content void?
May I present: Figure of a Large Man Shushing You. Or as the artist, Jim Rennert, calls it, “Listen.“
Standing at roughly twice the height of a regular human, on the same spot where LOVE used to live, its looming form allegedly “invites viewers to pause and reflect amidst the ever-changing and fast-paced world around them.” The sculpture comes from the same series as Rennert’s monumental “Think Big,” which currently resides in Union Square. You may have seen this work, an oversized businessman looking up at the sky as if wondering whether or not it will rain.
Personally, I find that one kind of charming — nothing to see here, except a giant banker crossing the street just like the rest of us, only bigger — but Figure of a Large Man Shushing You? A little on the nose, I’d say. Certain men famously like to dispense unsolicited advice as to which things other people, particularly women, should do (smile more! calm down!) and not do (make this about “sexism”! be so sensitive!), and this towering dude telling passing strangers to be quiet? Just a little too familiar for me, thanks. Look at his shoulders, hunching toward you for emphasis — do you not feel somewhat like a teen being scolded for whispering in a movie theater? Do you not feel ever so slightly patronized?
Anyway, the LOVE sculpture was reportedly removed for cleaning — we’re reaching out for more updated information, and to Rennert’s gallery, the Cavalier Gallery, to see how long this big boy will continue shushing us. We will update if we hear back.
Update: We have learned that “Listen” stands just over 12 feet tall, and will be on display at least through the end of November. In a statement sent to Gothamist by his gallery, Rennert explained: “Initially I had hoped to have depicted popular culture’s ideas on achievement and success in an ironic and humorous fashion. However, more recently, the work has taken on a more serious tone as I illustrate more about the thoughts and ideas we all deal with in our contemporary society. …Although not everyone wears a suit, I feel the themes transcend to the everyman.”