City Sculpture Projects 1972
If you have the pleasure of strolling the streets of the historical center of Leeds, in the United Kingdom, you will be likely to stumble upon a 16-foot high orangutan. This is King Kong, a fiberglass sculpture created in 1972 by British artist Nicholas Monro for the City Sculpture Projects, a very ambitious public art program led in several cities in the United Kingdom during the 1970s.
During six months, from March to November 1972, sixteen monumental sculptures were installed in eight different cities, two per city: Birmingham, Cambridge, Cardiff, Liverpool, Newcastle, Plymouth, Sheffield, and Southampton. The English public was familiar with the outdoor sculpture installations since 1948 thanks to the Open Air Exhibition of Sculpture, the first outdoor sculpture exhibition (in Battersea Park in London). But never before had a contemporary art sculpture of such a monumental scale been part of the urban landscape. At the time, the contemporary artistic production was just starting to conquer a new territory, the public space of the city, and it was doing it simultaneously in eight different cities.
Today, the Henry Moore Institute is returning to this project by displaying not only the sculptures but also maquettes (some were designed specifically for the occasion) and an amazing photographic archive. Formerly installed in the Manzoni Gardens in Birmingham, facing the Bull Ring Center shopping mall, King Kong now stands tall in front of the Henry Moore Institute, gazing at « The Headrow », one of city’s liveliest streets.