Aside from the obviously pleasing incongruity of sheep in the middle of Manhattan, what’s going on here? These epoxy stone and bronze moutons are on one hand iconic sculptures by deceased French artist François-Xavier Lalanne. Sheep in Manhattan: charming and a bit surprising, even if they are cartoonish sheep elevated vis-a-vis art. Less surprising is that the Getty Filling station that used to mark this corner of Chelsea has been transformed — partially into a public art space– but more purposefully as the ground floor cornerstone to a “premier collection of luxury residences.” No doubt the art and the adjacent High Line will only add to the attractions of this future luxury development by Michael Shvo.
Not that there is anything wrong with that. Art in New York (in the world but especially in New York) hardly exists in an art-for-art’s-sake vacuum. I hesitate to imply there should be guilt rather than the pure candor of the press release which spells out this relationship, linking commercialism and social status to art in ways that no doubt everyone is already more than aware of. But how does it make you feel about the sheep, hanging artificially onto a carefully-watered patch of grass in the midst of the vast metropolis?