Art is important. It makes us think, stimulates our senses and sparks our imaginations. If you love art, you should know that many public places all over the world display incredible sculptures that are remarkable in terms of their uniqueness.
From the dramatic and menacing Spider sculpture at the Tate Modern in London, England, to the mysterious Black Ghost sculpture of Klaipeda, Lithuania and beyond, an amazing trip around the world could be planned based on seeing all of these sculptures up close.
One sculpture on the list, by the late Salvador Dali, isn’t on display in a public place. It has passed between private owners. Anyone might be able to buy it someday if he or she is one of “The Richest”.
Classically beautiful art has its place, and there are some classically beautiful sculptures on this list, although there are more daring sculptures that break out of the classical art mold. Some of these innovative designs have surrealist elements. Others trick the eye with optical illusions.
Now, let’s begin a tour around the world. It all starts in London, where a huge arachnid seems to guard a respected contemporary art gallery, or (depending on interpretation) threaten it…the tour wraps up in Adelaide, where large pigs cast in bronze appear to run wild on the city streets.
24MAMAN, TATE MODERN – LONDON, UK
Louise Bourgeois is a sculptor who has made several sizable spider sculptures. According to TheGuardian.co.uk website, her spider sculpture, Maman, was one of a group of six arachnids crafted from marble, stainless steel, and bronze. The spiders were made during the 1990s.
Bourgeois lived to the age of 98. She started her life in Paris and is commonly regarded as a very important artist. In 1999, her spider, Maman, which has a height of nine meters, arrived outside of the Tate Modern. It heralded an exhibition of her art, which featured more than two hundred of her pieces. Maman was a permanent acquisition by the Tate Modern.
23TRANSCENDENCE – PORTLAND, OREGON, USA
Transcendence is an unusual salmon sculpture by Keith Jellum. Jellum’s fish appears to swim through a building’s corner. Located in Portland, Oregon, according to Atlasobscura.com, this sculpture captures the eccentric spirit of the city perfectly.
Crafted from bronze and forged by hand, this salmon is eleven feet long and it’s found on the third floor of a seafood eatery building. Jellum is an Oregonian sculptor, so it’s fitting that his work was chosen. It adds plenty of excitement and charm to the downtown core of Portland.
22UNTITLED 1986 – OXFORD, UK
Informally known as “The Headington Shark”, the sculpture, Untitled 1986, is found in Oxford, within the United Kingdom. According to Wikipedia.com, it first appeared in Oxford in August of 1986. The homeowner who chose to add the shark, which is the handiwork of the sculptor, John Buckley, was a local radio host, Bill Heine.
Some people hated this sculpture and the way that it impacted the look of the neighborhood. It appears to crash headfirst into the roof of a house, so it’s definitely a rebellious choice for the homeowner. Attempts to have “The Headington Shark” removed failed. The shark is over twenty-five feet in length and is crafted from fiberglass, with a painted finish. It’s meant to symbolize a sense of powerlessness.
21MUSTANGS AT LAS COLINAS – ROBERT GLEN – TEXAS, USA
According to Wikipedia.com, this sculpture was cast in bronze by an artist named Robert Glen. It was created to honor Texas’ wild mustangs, which used to inhabit a lot of the Lone Star State. They appear to gallop through a water feature and the fountains seem to splash the hooves of the animals. In terms of symbolism, the wild mustangs reference the freedom, drive, and initiative of Texas pioneers. This sculpture was erected in 1984, after being commissioned in the late 70s.
20PROFILE OF TIME – SALVADOR DALI – CHRISTIE’S AUCTION HOUSE
Salvador Dali’s “melting clocks” are world famous and one of them is featured in Dali’s Surrealist sculpture, Profile of Time. In 2014, according to the Christie’s website, this sculpture by the late artist was sold for a whopping 362,500 pounds sterling.
The piece features Dali’s signature at the tip of its base and it’s stamped with a foundry mark and number. It’s made from bronze, with patina in green, brown and gold. Its height is 151.6 inches. The piece was conceived during the late 70s and its casting happened in 1984. There are eight of these sculptures in total, in addition to a group of artists proofs (four in all).
19THE SHOES ON THE DANUBE BANK – CAN TOGAY & GYULA PAUER – BUDAPEST, HUNGARY
According to Atlasobscura.com, in 1944, Hitler’s forces took down Hungarian government leader, Miklos Horthy, and installed Ferenc Szalasi in his place. Unfortunately, the new leader in Hungary shared many of Hitler’s views. This moving sculpture depicts the terrible suffering endured by Jews during Szalasi’s time in power.
Shoes on the Danube Promenade symbolizes the shoes that Jewish people had to remove before they met a grisly fate. The sculpture features sixty pairs of shoes, all of which have 1940s style, and the shoes are crafted from iron.
18THE ANONYMOUS PEDESTRIANS – WROCLAW, POLAND
According to Gallivance.net, there is a bustling intersection of Wroclaw, Poland, where a unique array of sculpted figures are found. These figures appear to be typical people getting on with the business of the day.
However, there is a problem. On a specific corner, the figures sink down into the asphalt. Across the way, on the other side of the street, a different group of figures seem to rise out of the concrete sidewalk.
The figures are the work of Jerry Kalina and they were created in 2005, to commemorate the twenty-fourth anniversary of the beginning of martial law within Poland. During this time, the military has the power to arrest ordinary people in the dead of night. Some of the arrested persons disappeared forever. They are represented by the figures sinking into the pavement.
17THE LAST THREE – ASTOR PLACE
According to Vulture.com, The Last Three, which is a massive statue of three rhinos, two of which are stacked upon the one on the bottom, is a “kitschy monstrosity”. Created by a couple of Aussie artists, Marc and Gillie, who are married, the sculpture is controversial, as it’s widely considered to be an ugly example of public art. Designed to represent a final trio of northern white rhinos on the planet, this sculpture weighs seven tons and has a height of seventeen feet.
16BREAK THROUGH FROM YOUR MOLD – ZENOS FRUDAKIS – PHILADELPHIA, PENNSYLVANIA, USA
This sculpture was created by Zenos Frudakis. It’s also referred to as “Freedom”, according to the Premier-propertysearch.co.uk website. It’s meant to display the way that human beings struggle to attain freedom through creativity.
The sculpture shows a figure coming out of a wall, as a butterfly emerges from a cocoon. There are a trio of iterations, which track the figure’s movements towards complete freedom. This piece measures twenty feet in length and eight feet in height. If you like art that inspires, you may find that seeing this sculpture in person is meaningful.
15LES VOYAGEURS -MARSEILLES, FRANCE
Created by Bruno Catalano, this intriguing statue of a traveler, or voyageur, is part of a grouping of ten figures that the sculptor created for display in the port city of Marseilles, France, according to Mymodernmet.com.
Designed with missing pieces that the viewer must fill in with his or her imagination, this fascinating piece of art is made from bronze. It’s meant to symbolize the global traveler who is seeking out missing parts of himself through his voyages. One fun aspect of looking at this piece is trying to figure out how the artist managed to create it. It seems impossible that it could stand on its own, as sections appear to be completely without an armature.
14NELSON MANDELA – NEAR HOWICK, SOUTH AFRICA
According to CNtraveller.com, a sculpture of Nelson Mandela’s face was installed right where he was arrested, close to Howick, South Africa, fifty years after his arrest occurred.
This evocative piece of art is the work of Marco Cianfanelli. It’s created from fifty columns of steel charcoal, which compose the leader’s head when viewed from the proper angle. From the front, this piece is a portrait. From other angles, the bars resemble prison bars. The light that flows through the piece is meant to symbolize uprising and solidarity.
13CATTLE DRIVE – DALLAS, TEXAS, USA
This big sculpture honors the memory of the cattle drives of the 19th century, according to En.Wikipedia.org. These cattle drives happened on a trail that ran through Waco, Dallas, and Austin. The trail is known as The Shawnee Trail.
The sculpture depicts forty-nine steers made from bronze, as well as a trio of trail riders. This work was created by Texan sculptor, Robert Summers. Each of the steers is bigger than life. They measure six feet in height. The Cattle Drive sculpture attracts plenty of tourists and commemorates Texas history.
12BLACK GHOST – KLAIPEDA, LITHUANIA
Have you seen a black ghost in Klaipeda, Lithuania, who appears to be slinking out of the water, perhaps to haunt a particular person? If so, no worries. He’s made of bronze and he can’t move a single inch. This famous sculpture has a terrific backstory, according to the Tvovermind.com website…
Way back in 1595, a guard at Klaipeda Castle saw a ghostly vision. The ghost told the guard that the city was headed for hardship due to dwindling supplies of timber and grain. Then, the apparition disappeared.
The statue of the Black Ghost is near the castle, close to a swing bridge. It measures 2.4 meters in height. When you walk by it, it may or may not utter a warning…
11IGUANA PARK – THE NETHERLANDS
According to the Cntraveler.com website, a cluster of forty iguana figures has been skulking through Amsterdam for four decades now. These iguanas are made from brass and they are amazingly life-like. They are found in and around the green grass near Leidseplein Square. They were put into place in 1994 and they were created by talented artist, Hans van Houwelingen. They are supposedly symbolic of adaptability, which is fitting, as this part of Amsterdam is always changing. They certainly add some spice to the Dutch cityscape!
10MAN AT WORK – BRATISLAVA, SLOVAKIA
The “man at work” depicted in this unique sculpture is named Cumil and he is one of the myriad sculptures in Bratislava’s Old Town, according to the Biveros.se website. All of the sculptures were installed in 1997, two years after independence. At this time, the city was enhancing its public image following a long Communist history.
The sculpture was created by Viktor Hulik. A road sign was erected to protect Cumil from drivers who might damage him by accident. According to local legend, touching the head of this sculpture is a quick and easy way to get some good luck.
9HIPPO SCULPTURES – TAIPEI, TAIWAN
According to Deepart.info, Taipei’s “Hippo Square” is located at the city’s zoo and it’s considered one of the twenty-five most creative sculptures and statues worldwide. When you visit, you’ll see a big pod of hippos who are partly submerged. People love to drop by and take pictures, or just sit on the hippos for a while to rest. Animal lovers will appreciate just how realistic these hippos look. They are definitely sculpted with extraordinary skill. They add a whimsical element to the environment.
8THE ARCHITECTURAL FRAGMENT – MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA
This Melbourne-based sculpture is definitely one of a kind. It depicts a building that has sunk into the ground. Known as The Architectural Fragment, it was created by the sculptor, Petrus Spronk, and it’s situated on Swanston Street, according to the Weekendnotes.com website. This artwork is designed to symbolize civilization’s downfall, now and in the past. It became a part of the State Library of Victoria’s surrounding in winter of 1993. Dramatic and interesting, and thought-provoking, this piece attracts plenty of attention.
7A SCENE FROM THE WORLD WAR WITH REAL-SIZE STATUES – ECEABAT, TURKEY
This sculpture depicts a scene from World War. It’s strikingly realistic and brings the horrors of wartime to life. It takes visitors out of their everyday lives, back to a time when men needed to put their lives on their line for their country. Designed with painstaking attention to detail, it features trenches, as well as soldiers and guns. Some soldiers are still fighting, while others have fallen. According to Earthporm.com, this art installation features life-size figures for an ultra-natural look.
6DE VAARTKAPOEN – BRUSSELS, BELGIUM
This humorous Belgian sculpture by Tom Frantzen depicts a policeman who is being attacked by a shady character who is emerging from a manhole. It’s a lighthearted piece which is designed to cheer up passersby as they wander on their way. It’s likely that this interesting piece of art has stopped many a tourist in his or her tracks. The sculpture was created in 1985, and it may be found in the Sint-Jans-Molenbeek part of the country. Be sure to take a pic of it if you find yourself in the area.
5MAN HANGING OUT – PRAGUE, CZECH REPUBLIC
According to the Atlasobscura.com website, this sculpture isn’t as ominous as it appears at first glance. While some people assume it’s a man who is about to make a tragic and irreversible decision, it’s actually a depiction of Sigmund Freud. The sculpture was created in 1996, by David Cerny. This sculptor’s work is very popular and may be found all over the city (Prague). This is art that is supposed to provoke those who see it. It’s meant to evoke a strong emotional reaction, and even to shock.
4KELPIES, GRANGEMOUTH – UK
According to Wikipedia.com, The Kelpies are sculptures of horses’ heads, which measure thirty meters in height. They are found close to River Carron, within The Helix. The Helix is a parkland that connects sixteen communities in Scotland’s Falkirk Council region. These sculptures were created by Andy Scott, who finished them in fall of 2013. They honor the horsepower that Scotland used to rely on for transportation and agriculture. Epic in scale and skillfully done, they soar up into the sky and add beauty to the landscape.
3MIHAI EMINESCU – ONESTI, ROMANIA
According to the Democratic Underground website, this sculpture is located in Onesti, Romania. It depicts one of the nation’s most revered writers, Mihai Eminescu, who was born long ago, in 1850. This sculpture is interesting because of its open spaces. It’s in one sense a realistic depiction of Eminescu, but lets the city in via its open spaces and this makes it very interesting and different. When viewed from different angles, it will provide a range of views of the city.
2THE UNKNOWN OFFICIAL – REYKJAVIK, ICELAND
This piece shows a man who wears a wrinkled and loose suit. From his elbows up, he is trapped in a block of weighty stone. One of his hands is in one packet. According to Waymarking.com, there is a plaque on the sculpture which describes the stone figure as an unknown bureaucrat. This sculpture was created by Magnus Tomasson and it’s currently found at the Iono Theatre. Its location has shifted a few times since it was first displayed.
1A DAY OUT, ADELAIDE – AUSTRALIA
Now, we come to the end of our artistic trip around the world. Let’s wrap things up with something fun and light. It’s a sculpture of pigs which is found in Adelaide, Australia. It’s called, A Day Out. According to the Adelaide City Explorer website, these pigs are charming and seem to wander Rundle Mall. They are beloved by kids and adults alike. The sculpture is a grouping of four porcine figures and it’s the work of Marguerite Derricourt. It was shown to the public for the first time on the 3rd of July, 1999.