This afternoon, I ran into Andy Warhol on the northwest corner of Union Square at Broadway and 17th Street. Seven feet tall, his chrome-plated body shining in the waning sunlight, Andy wore a camera around his neck and he carried a Bloomingdale’s shopping bag with the words "medium brown bag" imprinted on it.
Created by sculptor Rob Pruitt, The Andy Monument stands across from the Decker building, which was the site of Warhol’s Factory from 1973 to 1984, and just a few steps away from another building where the Factory was housed between 1967 and 1973.
On display until October 2nd, the monument is the only one dedicated to an artist in New York City. There are hundreds of monuments to historical figures and politicians -- Mahatma Gandhi’s statue can be found in the southwest corner of Union Square -- but none, says Pruitt, dedicated to artists.
Having visited Pere Lachaise cemetery in Paris, where notables such as Jim Morrison and Oscar Wilde are buried, Pruitt lamented that, when Warhol died, his family had his remains sent back to Pittsburgh, his hometown. So Pruitt created The Andy Monument as a tribute to Warhol, and had it installed at the street corner where Warhol signed and gave away copies of Interview magazine.
Based on a combination of digital scanning of a live model and hand sculpting, the chrome-plated statue stands on a concrete pedestal. As quoted in accompanying text by Rob Pruitt: “Like so many other artists and performers, and people who don’t fit in because they’re gay or otherwise different, Andy moved here to become who he was, to fulfill his dreams, and make it big. He still represents that courage and that possibility. That’s why I came to New York, and that’s what my Andy Monument is about.”
A free guide by cell audio tour can be found by calling: (646) 862-0945, or you can download a smartphone app at www.publicartfund.org.