The first thing that comes to mind when thinking of sculptures is traditional clay sculptures sitting in an art gallery.
Stainless Steel has provided a medium now to slow down the use of clay and provide the foreground for some of the most iconic sculptures in the world. Listed below are five of the most interesting, modern and unique sculptures to have ever been made (or yet to be made) of Stainless Steel. Some may be instantly recognised, others may be new but each provides unique landmarks for their countries.
One of the most iconic is the Unisphere in New York, USA. Overused in films, this large spherical sculpture represents the Earth. The Earth is being encircled by three large orbit rings which represent the first manned space missions. Even if you don’t know the Unisphere by name, odds are you have seen the structure used as a backdrop/location for a vast majority of films and television shows. These include; two Marvel blockbusters (Iron Man 2 and Captain America the First Avenger), White Collar, CSI NY, Tomorrowland and even two instalments in the Men in Black franchise (1 & 3). This sculpture has stood strong since 1964/1965. The Unisphere was commissioned to celebrate the true beginning of man’s space age. The Unisphere was designed by architect Gilmore D. Clarke and has become the symbol for the World’s Trade Fair.
Maybe a lesser known structure but equally as unique is the Jerusalem Upside Down in (you guessed it) Jerusalem, Israel. This hourglass-shaped structure is situated at the highest point of the Israel Museum. With Jerusalem being one of the most spiritual in the world (especially being an important location in a variety of faiths, including Catholicism/Christianity and Judaism), this structure aims to signify that. The name simply comes from the sculpture’s purpose; the hourglass flips the city of Jerusalem into the sky. This highlights the spiritual importance of the city as both a heavenly and spiritual place.
A more abstract in style sculpture is the Sibelius Monument in Helsinki, Finland. The sculpture aims to emulate the wave-like formations of organ pipes. This is done through the use of over six hundred steel tubes welded together to form the sculpture. The monument was created to pay homage to Finnish composer, Jean Sibelius. The abstract piece was sculpted by Finnish artist Eila Hiltunen and was unveiled to the world in 1967. Much like many of these sculptures, the Sibelius Monument has become a landmark to Finland and attracted thousands of tourists. This iconic landmark has been replicated in a smaller version at the UNESCO headquarters in Paris. A similar concept has even been designed by Hiltunen and is located in the grounds of the United Nations headquarters in New York City.
Another relatively abstract and iconic piece is the Cones in Canberra, Australia. This piece stretches out for over twenty metres and consists of seven well-polished steel cones. The cones almost interact with their environment by reflecting and distorting the shapes and colours of the trees around the sculpture. The sculpture has been sat within the National Gallery of Australia’s Sculpture Garden since 1982. This geometric stainless steel sculpture was designed by Hebert “Bert” Flugelman. Flugelman specialised in a variety of stainless steel pieces, all very similar in geometrical style as the Cones. A lot of these sculptures can be found across Australia, some of these works include:
- Festival Sculpture (Tetrahedra) located at the Adelaide Festival Centre, Adelaide.
- Mall’s Balls (Spheres) located at Rundle Mall, Adelaide
- Dobell Memorial (Pyramid Tower) located at Spring Street, Sydney.
Different from many of the other structures (and closer to home), is the Man of Steel sculpture in Sheffield, UK. Unlike many of the others on this list, this sculpture isn’t actually complete yet. The sculpture has been in development since 2012 and is aimed to be finished in 2016. The “Man of Steel” is set to depict a steel man sat on top of a black coal column. This sculpture is aimed to pay tribute to Harry Brearley’s development of stainless steel in Sheffield over a hundred years ago. The coal base is to add further highlighting to the regions huge coal seams and their contribution to the industry. This new landmark for Sheffield is set to be a fitting replacement to the Tinsley Towers, the large cooling towers of Sheffield that were demolished in August 2008. The aim is to turn the new sculpture into a profit making tourist attraction, even including a visitor centre and observation deck for tourists to admire the structure in all its glory.
Stainless Steel may play a large role in a lot of the modern buildings and architecture, but it also has a prominent role in some of the most iconic landmarks in the world.