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Tom Otterness      

Sculptor

Tom Otterness (born 1952) is an American sculptor whose works adorn parks, plazas, subway stations, libraries, courthouses and museums in New York—most notably in Rockefeller Park in Battery Park City and in the 14th Street/8th Avenue subway station—and other cities around the world. He contributed a balloon (a giant upside-down Humpty Dumpty) to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. He is widely known for having shot a dog in the head for the sake of an art film in 1977.

His style is often described as cartoonish and cheerful, but also political. His sculptures allude to sex, class, money and race.These sculptures depict, among other things, huge pennies, pudgy characters in business suits with moneybag heads, helmeted workers holding giant tools, and an alligator crawling out from under a sewer cover. His aesthetic can be seen as a riff on capitalist realism.

Known primarily as a public artist and for shooting a dog,Otterness has exhibited in exhibitions in locations across the United States and internationally, including New York City, Indianapolis, Beverly Hills, the Hague, Munich, Paris, Valencia and Venice. His studio is located in the Gowanus neighborhood in Brooklyn.

Otterness studied at the Art Students League of New York in 1970 and at the Independent Study Program of the Whitney Museum of American Art in 1973. He was an active member of the artists' group Colab (Collaborative Projects) from its inception in 1977. That year, he also made his controversial "Shot Dog Film," for which he adopted a dog from an animal shelter, only to film himself tying it to a tree and shooting it in the head.

Otterness began his career as a public sculptor during this period with Colab. He sold small, plaster figures for $4.99 at Artists Space in New York for the 1979 holiday season. His inspiration was the plaster replicas of Jesus and Elvis and Santería sculptures in botanica shops in the Bronx. "I thought 'Oh, this is public art…This is something that everyone can afford and take home.'" The next year he made a series of small plaster "proto monuments" for Colab's 1980 Times Square show, which he helped organize. This show featured inexpensive works by some 150 artists, including then unknowns Jean-Michel Basquiat and Keith Haring. He began showing with New York's Brooke Alexander Gallery soon after.

In 1987, Otterness exhibited his work The Tables at the Museum of Modern Art "Projects" show. White-collar workers, blue-collar workers, cops, radicals, captains of industry were displayed on four bronze picnic tables in the MoMA sculpture garden. The show travelled to the IVAM Centre Julio Gonzalez in Valencia; Portikus/Senckenbergmuseum in Frankfurt am Main; and Haags Gemeentemuseum in The Hague.

In 2005, "Tom Otterness on Broadway", his largest exhibition to date, featured 25 different works installed between Columbus Circle and 168th Street in Washington Heights. The project was sponsored by the City of New York Parks and Recreation Department, the Broadway Mall Association, and Marlborough Gallery, and traveled to three other cities—Indianapolis, Beverly Hills, and Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Grand Rapids exhibition featured more than 40 works across two miles of the city's downtown area and at Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park.

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Zodiac Love Sculpture Series By Tom Otterness Spices Up Gallery ...

Tom Otterness is known for his iconic bronze sculptures populating New York subway stations. (And alsofor shooting a dog in the name of art.)

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