Day 1057

Rocket Thrower

November 21st, 2014

Standing 43 feet tall, this recently restored sculpture from the 1964-65 World's Fair is one of the largest works of art in the city's parks. While it may be a hit with your average parkgoing ignoramus (like me), it's not exactly beloved in the art world. A few days after the fair opened, the NY Times's sharp-tongued art critic John Canaday wrote:

And the most lamentable monster [of all the fair's artworks], making Walt Disney look like Leonardo da Vinci, is Donald [De] Lue's "The Rocket Thrower," a bronze muscle man rising 45 ridiculous feet into the air on the main axis.

Since "The Rocket Thrower" is an absurdity that might be a satire of the kind of sculpture already discredited at the time of the 1939 fair, we might get it out of the way first by describing it as warmed‐over pseudo‐Carl Milles and left‐over semi‐Lee [Lawrie]. But to get it out of the way physically is going to be impossible, since it was commissioned as a permanent disfigurement to Flushing Meadow Park, one of the fair's residual contributions to culture.

If the jealous heavens do not level "The Rocket Thrower" with a bolt of lightning, a solution would be for some public-spirited citizen to pay for melting it down and putting it back in place. Whatever the shape of the resultant lump, it would be better than the shape the thing is in now.

One Comment

  1. Jjak says:

    I just went to see Tomorrowland – the Disney movie – last weekend and really enjoyed it – a good piece of it takes place here on this site where you walked.

    Not sure if you’re into movies Matt, but the optimism, and the sense of World’s Fair wonder in it made me glad that this place is preserved to the extent that it is.

    It’s really timely that you covered it this week when this movie is in theatres.

    You seem to know that things always work out.

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