If you happened to visit Rockefeller Center, as I did recently, you might notice a 37-foot tall sculpture weighing 150 tons festooned with 50,000 flowers that looks distinctly like either a monumental Chia Pet (continuing where last week’s Lame Adventure left off), or half a child’s hobby horse and half a child’s dinosaur toy in front of the Comcast Building* at 30 Rock.
If I had any say about this, I would suggest that “we” throw tradition to the wind, save a tree and hang holiday bells over Split-Rocker. Unfortunately, that is not in the cards. This whimsical exhibit will close on September 19th. But the Whitney is currently showing a retrospective of Koons’s work through October 19th.
Koons designed Split-Rocker in 2000. It was originally exhibited at the Palais des Papes in Avignon, France. He made two and owns one, the one on display in New York. Once it is dismantled, maybe it will head into storage in his garage in York, Pennsylvania. The other Split-Rocker belongs to billionaire industrialist, Mitchell P. Rales and his wife, Emily. They’ve had theirs on display in Glenstone, their private museum in Potomac, Maryland, for about a year. If you cannot visit New York in the next four days, you might want to give them a call.
Koons claims that his inspiration for this sculpture was a toy pony owned by one of his sons and a toy dinosaur.
The dinosaur owner was not identified, but considering the proliferation of toy dinosaurs that have ruled toy stores for the past twenty years it could have belonged to Any Kid or possibly someone age forty-five — coincidentally, Koons’s age in 2000.
Recently I read a lovely essay in the New York Times written by Bill Hayes about visiting the Metropolitan Museum with his two nieces, who are fourteen and eighteen. His older niece is an aspiring photographer who was blown away by Garry Winogrand’s photographs. His younger niece was more taken with the paintings, particularly Monet’s Water Lilies. This was the first time she had seen a Monet water lily painting. Bill told both girls that they could fall in love with a work of art, just as they can fall in love with a song. That work of art is theirs.
I cannot say I fell in love with Split-Rocker, but I thought it was fun. When I crossed the plaza to take a head on photograph of it, I noticed that there was a Metropolitan Museum gift shop. The windows were filled with Split-Rocker souvenirs.
The plate caught my eye, I could see myself having a slice of baked salmon on it, and so I entered the store looking for it.
I could not find it anywhere. I asked a clerk who was yawning where it was, wondering if it had sold out? She explained to me that if I were interested in it, she would contact the Met on my behalf.
Me: That’s very kind of you. How much is it?
I parroted what she said, and she parroted me. There was a lot of parroting going on, but now I was intrigued.
Me: So how much is the vase?
I said nothing. She looked amused, indicating to me that she must be very used to stupefied expressions.
Me: Is there a Split-Rocker tee shirt?
I figured that in the law of averages wearable Split-Rocker might sell for $50.
Clerk: No. But the little book sells for $15.
I refrained from barking:
Me: Finally! A bargain!
I thanked her for her time and left. I’m perfectly content with owning my memory of seeing Split-Rocker and enjoying some of the 50,000 flowers for free.
For those of you who will not make it to New York in time to see Split-Rocker in person, here’s the Lame Adventure movie.
* For you history buffs, this building was originally known when it opened in 1933 as the RCA Building. In 1988 until 2014, it was the GE Building. Now, Comcast owns it. Saturday Night Live, Jimmy Fallon, Seth Myers, NBC News and MSNBC all tape their broadcasts here.