Human Nature, 2013, Ugo Rondinone Public Art installation at Rockefeller Plaza (organized by Public Art Fund)

Human Nature, 2013, Ugo Rondinone Public Art installation at Rockefeller Plaza (organized by Public Art Fund)

RANY founder Heather Zises communing with Human Nature, 2013, Ugo Rondinone Public Art installation at Rockefeller Plaza (organized by Public Art Fund)

RANY founder Heather Zises communing with Human Nature, 2013, Ugo Rondinone Public Art installation at Rockefeller Plaza (organized by Public Art Fund)

Right about now, the funk is so…other?  It would seem art and culture are undergoing a retro wave, from disco infused beats in Daft Punk’s new album Random Access Memories, to the bold neons that are punctuating clothing and nail art, to the Stonehenge-like structures by Ugo Rondinone that have landed in Rockefeller Plaza this summer.  Courtesy of Public Art Fund, the outdoor installation consists of nine colossal bluestone figures (each work is 16′ – 20′ tall) that occupy the full expanse of the plaza from 49th to 50th Streets. Entitled Human Nature, each structure possesses unique characteristics (color, shape, scale) and and weighs up to 30,000 pounds!

Human Nature, 2013, Ugo Rondinone Public Art installation at Rockefeller Plaza (organized by Public Art Fund)

Human Nature, 2013, Ugo Rondinone Public Art installation at Rockefeller Plaza (organized by Public Art Fund)

Rondinone’s intention for Human Nature is to reconnect the contemporary world with our distant origins. As I stood quietly and watched people walk by the installation, everyone established some sort of connection to the works.  Whether it was a perfunctory glance or a suspended gaze, viewers were automatically drawn to the towering totems that have been aptly described as “mythic in scale and imagery” and “visceral in character and impact” in the Public Art Fund press release. Intrigued by this effect, I chose to take a spin and weave my way throughout this curious forest of primal giants. As I traversed the plaza, I got the sense that these TransformersEnts hybrids were about to become mobile, sweep me up onto their shale shoulders, and shed ancient secrets into my ear. Alas, that did not happen, but I most certainly felt like I had taken a quick little trip into a pocket of history that has reminded me that everything old is new again.

Human Nature, 2013, Ugo Rondinone Public Art installation at Rockefeller Plaza (organized by Public Art Fund)

Human Nature, 2013, Ugo Rondinone Public Art installation at Rockefeller Plaza (organized by Public Art Fund)

Human Nature, 2013, Ugo Rondinone Public Art installation at Rockefeller Plaza (organized by Public Art Fund)

Human Nature, 2013, Ugo Rondinone Public Art installation at Rockefeller Plaza (organized by Public Art Fund)

For nearly two decades, Swiss artist Rondinone has created a diverse body of work that encompasses multiple mediums, which includes sculpture, painting, drawing, photography, video, and curatorial projects. In recent years, the artist seems to have found his groove within public art projects. For those of you who ever wondered about the neon rainbow that exclaimed  “HELL, YES!” that hung brightly on the exterior mesh of side of the New Museum from late 2007-2010, that was the clever chromatic craftwork of Rondinone…

Ugo Rondinone, Hell, Yes!, 2007-2010, New Museum installation shot

Ugo Rondinone, Hell, Yes!, 2007-2010, New Museum installation shot