Scary statues in San Gimignano

As much as I liked my night visit to the medieval hilltop town of San Gimignano, there was another reason why braving the daytime hordes turned out to be worth it.

And it has to do with rust-covered naked dudes waiting just around the corner to surprise you.

San Gimignano sculptures by Antony Gormley

If there’s anything that could make me glad to be surrounded by a busload of tourists, it was the sight of a naked man slathered in red in the shadows of a deserted medieval town. Believe me, it was far more reassuring in the daylight than it was at midnight!

These rusty naked men are part of an exhibit called Vessel by sculptor Antony Gormley. Beginning with 39 interconnected box structures in the Galleria Continua, the exhibit spills out into the streets of San Gimignano with six identical figures by Gormley—all of which are casts of his own naked body. Iiiiinteresting.

I saw only two of the six figures placed around the town, although I didn’t see the sculpture that was atop one of San Gimignano’s famous 13th century skyscrapers. A similar shock factor was involved in Gormley’s first exhibit of public art in New York, called Event Horizon. He perched 31 figures on rooftops and on the edges of buildings in Manhattan, freaking out passersby who thought they were seeing suicides in the making!

As public art goes, I would put these into the categories of striking, eerie and haunting. What would freak you out more: seeing a potential jumper on your way to work, or seeing a naked man covered in red in an empty street at midnight?

Lovely comments:

  1. This artist sounds really interesting.  I love art that takes you out of your comfort zone. It always makes you ponder a lot of things that you usually wouldn’t.
    Do you know the Belgian artist Jan Fabre?  He’s another artist that some would describe as shocking.  I saw an exhibit of his at the Kroller Muller Museum and there were also many sculptures of naked men involved.

  2. Your posts never fail to inspire me, Deepa!  I think I would be equally scared by the jumper and the naked man at midnight!  I visited my sister in Birmingham, England in 2005 when Benjamin Verdonck installed an enormous nest on the side of a building and lived in it.  We would go watch him, and I was always so scared that he would fall.  I think that was part of his plan.  ;)  I’m adding you to my blogroll and I’m working on that post I told you about.  Your blog is AMAZING!  

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  1. […] objects strewn across a medieval town? Viewers’ responses were varied. In a post called “Scary Statues in San Gimignano,” one blogger said she would “put these [statues] into the categories of striking, eerie […]

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