Known best for his public installations, sculptor Tom Otterness has served as an innovative New York City artist for over four decades. He attended The Art Students League of New York in the early 70s, taking advantage of studio offerings in drawing, painting, and sculpting. In 1973, Mr. Otterness attended the Independent Study Program at the Whitney Museum of American Art. He emerged as a recognized artist in the late 1970s through affiliation with Collaborative Projects, Inc. (a.k.a. Colab). Establishing a relationship with the Brooke Alexander Gallery in New York City, Tom Otterness saw his work presented in multiple international exhibitions, including the Nouvelle Biennale de Paris, the Whitney Biennial Exhibition, and La Biennale di Venezia. In 1992, “Battle of the Sexes” by Mr. Otterness was featured in the Museum of Modern Art’s exhibition “Allegories of Modernism.”
In the late 1980s, Tom Otterness began receiving public art commissions, which resulted in large-scale installations. In 1991, he oversaw the installation of The New World in front of the Edward R. Roybal Federal Building in Los Angeles. This successful project led to other U.S. General Services Administration sculptural works at courthouses throughout the United States. Another early public work, The Real World at the north end of New York’s Battery Park City, featured a whimsical narrative depicting animals and people playing out stories about the struggles of power, money and the system of predators and prey . Mr. Otterness has subsequently pursued numerous public art commissions in New York City, most famously Life Underground, which inhabits the subway station at 14th Street and Eighth Avenue. The sprawling 2004 installation, commissioned by the Metropolitan Transportation Authority and Arts for Transit, features more than 100 cast-bronze sculptures on subway-line platforms and stairways. Another notable installation in New York City, Playground at Silver Towers was unveiled in 2010 and featured a 30 foot tall playable sculpture in human form. The structure includes multiple slides running down the seated [is it seated or reclining?] figure’s arms and legs that end at bulbous feet and hands. Tom Otterness has designed a number of other playgrounds and his website features postcards made by school children commenting on his art and a collaboration he worked on with the students of PS 20 and the American Ballet Theater.