Just off Bleecker Street – encased by three austere, grey apartment buildings (which are somewhat ironically named Silver Towers) – stands a Picasso sculpture. Thousands of people stroll along the sidewalks outside these tower blocks everyday, unaware of the art that the apartment buildings are hiding. Made of 60 tonnes of cement, the imposing “Bust of Sylvette” is an enlarged version of the smaller busts created by Picasso. In 1968 the sculptor Carl Nesjar was tasked with the challenge of turning the original artwork into a 36-feet-high sculpture, which would sit forever in Lower Manhattan.
The sandblasted-cement surface of the bust almost blends in to the harsh tower blocks that surround her. As you walk around the square, the folds in the sculpture alter her appearance and her expression changes from a subtle smile to a serious gaze. But no matter what perspective you choose to view her from, her many eyes will always be keeping watch over Bleecker Street and her bushy ponytail will keep her head held high.
505 La Guardia Place, 100-110 Bleecker Street, New York, NY 10012.
Photo: Hannah Hoskins.