There’s Something About Size

It matters.

Well, at least in the case of public art, which is what this post is about.

Colossal works of art can’t help but seize attention, because nothing says “look here!” than sheer humongous-ness. And once captured, our attention is held captive, pinned, as if by a pro-wrestler. They make bold statements that provoke deep primal responses and reflective thought.

Installation with 1600 chairs, by Doris Salcedo in Istanbul

There are 1600 wooden chairs in this installation piece by Doris Salcedo in Istanbul. Image courtesy of

Size makes viewers feel small. We like to think we have the run of the world, and we have the tendency to delude ourselves into a mistaken sense of power and control. The larger-than-us proportions of public art can swallow us up, and serve as a reminder that we are small. And so we are called to awe.

Sculpture by Mariko Mori

Mariko Mori's Wave UFO

Reflective sculpture by Anish Kapoor

"Cloud Gate" by Anish Kapoor. Image from

Concept study for a viewing tower for the London Olympics

Anish Kapoor’s "Orbit" viewing tower for the 2012 London Olympic Park (scale composite)

Also, size generally comes with not a small amount of strength, making these huge art pieces all tough and macho. They won’t dissolve in rain or snow. They won’t wither away when you touch them, nor will they blanch at UV radiation or camera flash. Eventually they will fade, disintegrate and be taken down, but that’s okay. They let us go ahead and ooh and aah, and lean on them and touch them. They are that approachable and accessible!

A sculpture and water installation

"Specific Gravity" by Reg Yuson, a sculpture and water feature. Image from

Spiky and huge art

Thomas Heatherwick’s ‘B of the Bang’ does inspire awe and a little bit of fear. Those spikes can be lethal! Image from

"King Bladud's Pigs"

Work in progress for “King Bladud's Pigs”, an installation for an art event in 2008 by artist Al Greenhall.

A giant eyeball sculpture

What are you looking at? Tony Tasset’s three-story tall eye ball, dubbed “The Eye”. Image from

2 Responses to There’s Something About Size

  1. christopher says:

    The chairs are great and I want the rock on the rods in my yard! Thanks for the great pictures. Inspiring.

  2. Nathalie Mariano says:

    Hi, Chris!
    I totally agree–those 2 pieces are just amazing. Thanks for appreciating! =)

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