First they came for Peter the Great

Back when sculptor Zurab Tsereteli first built the thing, in 1991-1992, the guy balancing atop an oddly proportioned stack of bronze ships (caravelles?) was supposed to be Christopher Columbus. But, strangely, neither Spain, nor the U.S., nor any Latin American countries wanted the thing, not even to celebrate the 500th anniversary of Columbus blundering onto the shores of the New World.

Who took it? Moscow, which was run by Tsereteli’s bff, Yuri Luzhkov.

Luzhkov took the statue, rechristened it Peter the Great (never mind that that man had been based in St. Pete), and put it on the point of land where the Obvodnoy Kanal meets the Moscow River, whence this monstrosity — at well over 300 feet, one of the tallest in the world, mind you — has dominated the Moscow skyline, and embarrassed the city’s residents.

Today, we discover that Luzhkov’s replacement and former deputy, Vladimir Resin, has announced he is thinking about moving Peter to another location. Unclear where, but few have spoken up and even fewer mind that every visiting tourist will now no longer have to get an explanation from his Moscow host about Tsereteli’s art (like his 9/11 statue in Bayonne, NJ that a friend once described as ‘a crying vulva’), and its cozy ties to Luzhkov as well as the metals industry.

Tsereteli, meanwhile, believes history will prove him right. “History will put everything in its place,” he said. “Remember how many prominent people — artists, writers — embarrassed themselves by criticizing the Eiffel Tower.”


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8 Responses to First they came for Peter the Great

  1. I don’t know why so many people like to diss Zurab Tsereteli. He’s a true visionary and artist, and misunderstood like so many of his kind.

  2. I say Resin make Luzhkov take it with him. It’s really dumb to have a any memorial to Peter the Great in Moscow, let alone a hideously ugly one. The guy despised the place.

  3. marknesop says:

    Great art is in the eye of the beholder. There’s a piece in front of my local sportsplex that the artist optimistically titled, “Rock, Pavilion and Shell” that looks to me like nothing so much as a pile of junk that someone plowed together with a bulldozer, but I suppose there are a few diehard fans of “modern art” who like it. “Peter the Great” looks OK to me, although it would benefit significantly (in my opinion) from being less than a tenth its actual size.

    To whoever thought the Bayonne sculpture looked like a “crying vulva” – you need to stop dating bridge abutments.

  4. Philip Owen says:

    People get PAID for producing irrelevant elements of dissonance like the statue. I worked out that it was Peter and just couldn’t work out why it was in Moscow.

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