20 Sculptures Whose Stories Remind Us About What Matters Most
There are sculptures you walk past and instantly forget that they even exist. But also, there are those that become really memorable. We think about them often, we look for the secret meaning in them, and we try to understand what the sculptor meant. Art goes beyond facts and statistics, this is why it can attract the attention of millions of people to the problems we don’t discuss often enough.
Bright Side has collected those sculptures that help us think about what is going on in the world and remind us about the most important things.
1. Caring Hand, Glarus
As you have probably already guessed, the sculpture called Caring Hand was created as a message about environmental responsibility. The sculpture is located in a beautiful city of Glarus, Switzerland, where you would be inspired to think about how to preserve beauty all around you. Eva Oertli and Beat Huber are the names of the sculptors.
2. La Estrella Herida, Barcelona
This sculpture is made of 4 rickety, rusty, metal and glass cubes that look like a toy house. The name The Wounded Star was given to it for a reason. This is a requiem from the creator of the monument to everything that no longer exists: the dreams that never came true, the places that used to be full of life but are now empty, the things that could have happened but didn’t, but the most important thing — our youth, that is so short.
The place for the monument was also chosen for a reason: here, right near the water, in the La Barceloneta district, there were slums and a poor fishing town. Families with a lot of children lived here in very small barracks and there were serenades and men went to the sea to feed their families. Later, the beaches were filled with the legendary chiringuitos (something like a makeshift bar), which were removed right before the 1992 Summer Olympic Games. This was how the city lost a part of their individuality. Now, there is a clean beach in Sant Miquel and nothing is reminiscent of the life of the past. Only this monument about dreams.
3. Sculpture-installation Absorbed by Light, Amsterdam
This work from British sculptor Gali May Lucas was part of the Amsterdam Light Festival and is supposed to highlight the obsession that people have with technology and smartphones. 3 figures are sitting on a bench in the ordinary smartphone-user position and texting. Their faces are lit up by their screens. According to the artist, her idea was to transmit the message that people are drawn to these screens all the time. And their light not only gives us information, but it also draws us away from the real world.
4. High Tide, London
4 horse riders on the shore of the Thames disappear and appear depending on the time of day. The artist, sculptor, and the environmental protector Jason deCaires Taylor created the composition in order to draw the attention of the public to the excessive dependence of people on oil and remind us of how our modern industry affects climate change. Yes, you see it right: instead of heads, the horses have oil pumps. The figures, who are wearing suits and sitting on the horses and looking somewhere, are a direct reference to the politicians and businessmen that take as much as they can carry from nature while ignoring all the side-effects.
5. Story of Love, Kiev
This sculpture is about the unique story of Luigi Peduto and Mokryna Yurzuk whose love overcame time and distance. The couple met in 1943, in an Austrian war prisoner camp and after the war, the lovers were separated. Later, they had their own families and went on with their own separate lives, but they still remembered each other and almost 60 years later, this Italian man found his love through the show “Wait for Me.”
When they met, they were already over 80 years old and Luigi proposed to Mokryna but, unfortunately, they didn’t have enough time to get married. The sculpture serves as a symbol of love that you can have throughout your entire life. A copy of the Kiev monument was also placed in Luigi’s hometown — Castel San Lorenzo in Italy.
6. The Memorial of the Lost Time, Kaluga
The monument was designed by the rescue group Lisa Alert (the Russian analog of Amber Alert). Inside the hourglass, there is a doll that looks like a 6-year-old child and the other half of the glass has sand in it. The point of the monument is clear: when looking for children, every second matters.
This symbol of time slipping through fingers traveled around the cities of Russia, but then stopped in the Kaluga Innovation and Culture Center.
The volunteers at Lisa Alert change the doll’s clothes inside the hourglass depending on the season, highlighting the difficulties of a seasonal search.
7. Suspended Orange Tree, Tel Aviv
Suspended Orange Tree is located in Jaffa, the old town. The orange is a special fruit for Israel. In 1948, when the country first appeared, it was the export of citrus fruit that kept the country’s economy afloat. The trees were planted in egg-shaped pots that hung on ropes between houses.
The sculptor, Ran Morin, claims that his creation looks similar to a humanity that is all about industrialization, is constantly chasing technological progress, and that has actually lost its roots — the connection to nature. We, just like this tree, are still growing from nowhere, and we have no idea where we are headed, losing the ground for the roots. There is a different interpretation of the floating tree: a plant without the soil is a symbol of the roaming of the people of Israel and the difficulties that immigrants have to face.
8. Det Svenska Tungsinnet, Malmö
At the water walk, there is a figure of a man wearing a beret that is standing, hiding his hands in his pockets, and crying. If you get closer to the figure, you can see that there are real tears running down his cheeks. This sculpture-fountain was created using the designs of artist and director Marie-Louise Ekman and is called The Swedish Language (Det Svenska Tungsinnet). The model for the sculpture was Swedish actor Gösta Ekman, the husband of Marie-Louise.
The message of the sculpture is that men in the modern world have to deal with all of life’s difficulties and overcome their fears and depression, but still stay strong.
9. Children Are the Victims of Adult Vices, Moscow
This sculpture is on Bolotnaya Square in Moscow. The sculptor is artist Mihail Chemiakin. The monument consists of 15 sculptures and symbolizes the fight against evil and social vices. The figures of children are surrounded by monsters impersonating these adult vices: drug addiction, violence, alcohol addiction, and other things.
Theft, for example, is symbolized by a figure of a man with a hog’s head, carrying a sack of money; sadism — a rhino wearing butcher’s clothes; and the figure of the knight in armor with wings and a gas mask, holding a bomb, is the symbol of war. The central place in the sculpture is a figure that symbolizes indifference, with a body that looks like a sarcophagus, closing its eyes and ears.
10. Vicissitudes, Cancún
26 figures of children (Vicissitudes) is one of the brightest monuments that is a part of the Underwater Sculpture Park in Grenada. The main point of the museum is to revive the sea flora and fauna that are endangered. The statues have become a man-made environment for coral and vegetation. The sculpture weighs 15 tons, and was built in order to withstand the tides and the currents. The ring of children symbolizes the life cycle and the responsibility that humans have for the condition of the environment they leave for future generations.
11. For Unborn Children, Riga
As part of the event called “For Life” in Riga, an exhibition of 27 sculptures of babies was shown. The number of sculptures was chosen for a reason: according to statistics, this is the number of children in Latvia that are not born every day because of abortions. The point of the event is to give families information about abortions and their consequences.
Next to every sculpture, there is a small plaque in 3 languages (English, Russian, and Latvian), that explains the reasons why people decide to have an abortion. For example, a woman already has a child, her husband died, and she thinks that she can’t raise 2 children alone, so she agrees to have an abortion in order to ensure a good future for at least one child. A different plaque tells a story about how a mother got the flu during her pregnancy and was told to have an abortion by a doctor.
12. Compassion, Moscow
On the Mendeleyevskaya metro station, there is a monument called, Compassion that was created by sculptor Alexander Zigal, animal painter Sergey Zigal, and Andrey and Petr Nalich. The monument is about a stray dog whose name was Malchik that lived and died in the underground passage. Its cruel death caused a huge public uproar. The caption on the monument says, “Compassion. Dedicated to a humane attitude toward homeless animals.”
13. Pregnant Woman Memorial, London
On Trafalgar Square, there are 4 pedestals with traditional bronze sculptures. The 4th pedestal has become an important place where modern art appears. The sculptures there are constantly changing. There have been a model of an English warship in a bottle, a giant blue rooster, and a thumb symbolizing a like. Now, there is a copy of an ancient Persian sculpture.
One of the most original and controversial works was Marc Quinn’s sculpture showing a pregnant disabled woman named Alison Lapper. A doctor’s mistake caused this woman to be born without hands and with very short legs. Her family gave her to an orphanage where she spent her entire childhood. But she still learned to draw, holding the brush in her teeth, live a full life, and even have a baby. This sculpture symbolizes human beauty and an incredible life power, and in 2012, it was chosen as the symbol of the Paralympics in London.
14. Holocaust Memorial, Miami
The location of the monument may seem a little strange, but it was here in South Florida where the Jewish people ran to from the Holocaust. The US accepted the refugees and all the pain and sorrow that these people carried resulted in this memorial.
Kenneth Treister and 45 other architects and sculptors took part in creating this monument. The memorial is supported by a semicircular classic colonnade of light rock, a pond with blooming lilies, and an island in the middle. A narrow stone corridor leads to the island, and the walls have the names of concentration camps carved in them. In the center of the island, there is a sculpture of a giant hand reaching out to the sky, asking for help. The hand is surrounded by 130 figures.
Treister’s idea was to not only commemorate the victims of the genocide, but also to support the people who survived and prevent us from forgetting this tragedy.
15. Ghost Girl, London
Ghost Girl is the work of British sculptor Kevin Francis Gray. It is a girl whose face is covered with a long veil of crystals. A curious person might look under the veil and will see a skull there. The arms of the girl are covered with scars. This is the artist’s way to show a person that doesn’t want to accept reality.
The author’s work is a little scary, but it resonates with people: the exhibitions of Kevin Francis Gray’s works are happening all around the world. Ghost Girl symbolizes reserved people and demonstrates how scary their loneliness is.
16. Memorial of a Person, Bergen
This poor man leaning on the wall near the entrance to the Central Bank is representative of both the memorial and any random person. It is supposed to remind us that everyone deserves our help and attention — it doesn’t matter if they are rich or poor. The plaque says, “Nobody is only what you see” The monument is supposed to remind people about others who need help.
17. Skyscraper, Brugge
This art installation was shown during a modern art exhibition. This giant whale, that is ready to be washed ashore, was placed in the main canal in Brugge. It consists of 5 tons of sea plastic that was collected on the shore in just 4 months. It has plastic containers, bottles, and even chairs and buckets.
The Skyscraper is supposed to draw the public’s attention to the problem of the dirty ocean and the fact that the amount of plastic may soon surpass the number of sea creatures. According to scientists, there are 150 million tons of plastic trash in the ocean right now, and about 8 million tons are added every year. The creators of this sculpture hope that their whale (which serves to show the scope of the problem) will make humanity think about how they are using plastic in the modern world.
18. Untimely Contemporaries, Leipzig
The composition includes the figures of a teacher, a diagnostician, a rationalizer, a city decorator, and an art theorist. All of them are naked and they are balancing on a beam. Some parts are covered with gold, this is why they are easy to notice (the saw, the laurel wreath, an ear trumpet, and other things). The bronze beam that they are standing on has the caption, “Of course, you can sacrifice a life for a principle, unless it is your life.”
The figures show the people who decided to blow up the university church of Saint Paul on Augustusplatz — the only gothic church that had survived the war. Bach and Mendelssohn performed inside of it. The church was blown up in 1968 after the GDR government decided to do it. It didn’t look fitting in the socialistic image of the square. The artist, Bernd Göbel left a reminder of how the actions of a group of people, that can’t see any farther than their noses, can lead to irreversible consequences.
19. She Lies, Oslo
The monumental 16 m tall sculpture made of steel and glass panels is supposed to demonstrate the power of nature over people’s efforts.
This sculpture floats in the water on a concrete platform and rotates in accordance with the winds and the tides, reminding us about the constant changes in the weather. It looks like a glacier: the water reflects in the glass panels. This massive rock of “ice” is a symbol of the power and greatness of the north. And the fact that the sculpture can move shows that nature is stronger and can undermine all of our efforts, so we have to take it into consideration.
20. Book Burning, Berlin
The empty bookshelves in Bebelplatz square remind us that not everyone thinks that books are our best friends. So, in May 1933, Nazi students burned more than 20,000 books, which included the books of Ilf and Petrov, Maksim Gorkiy, Mikhail Zoshchenko, Heinrich Mann, and Erich Maria Remarque among them. Right next to it, there is a plaque with Heinrich Heine’s quote “That was only a prelude; where they burn books, they will in the end also burn people.”
Do you know any other monument with an unusual story? Let’s continue this list.
Preview photo credit gettyimages