Tom Otterness, The Zodiac Love Series, 1982-87

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By Marc H. Miller

With over three dozen major commissions around the world, Tom Otterness is one of the most successful public sculptors living today.  In NYC alone he has created more than ten public works including the hugely popular “Life Underground” (2004) on the 14th St. Subway Station platform and the imaginative group installation, “Real World” (1992) in Battery Park City. Gallery 98 is pleased to offer for sale important early works by Otterness from the period when he first forged his mature style and populist art philosophy as a member of the artist group Collaborative Projects Inc. (Colab).

Otterness’s interest in creating art accessible to the general public first manifested itself in the mid-1970s when he sold his works on the street. His goal to create populist art was shared by other artists and one of the most popular features of the influential Time Square Show of 1980 was an artist-run gift shop with low-priced art designed to appeal to non-art audiences. Over the following years Otterness was active in a succession of similar stores organized by Colab. He specialized in small plaster sculptures like the Zodiac plasters for sale here. These were first marketed in Art Direct, a mail order holiday catalogue produced by Colab and Printed Matter Inc. in 1982.

According to Otterness, the Zodiac pieces were first suggested by an acquaintance who owned a botánica in the South Bronx and also operated a small factory that produced decorative plaster statuary for homes and gardens. The idea came from posters popular at the time showing sex positions associated with the signs of the zodiac. Otterness initially used these posters as source material, but later freely improvised and created his own positions and astrological correspondences. The Zodiac series was an open edition but since it was marketed primarily through alternative art venues only a limited number was actually made. All apparently date from before 1987.

Gallery 98 has one complete set of the twelve Zodiac Love plasters.  Some Zodiac signs are also available individually.

Tom Otterness