Tom Otterness


The Prince, 2010, Bronze 9.5 x 20.5 x 16 in


Abstract Couple, 2007, Bronze, 6 x 5 x 3.5 in photo by Jean Vong


Playground, Colorado, 2007, Bronze, 360 x 365 x 294 in


DNA, 2007, Bronze, 180 x 66.12 x 324 in


Playground, Cape Cod, MA, 2007, Bronze, 360 x 365 x 294 in


Big Girl Playground, 2011, Bronze, 188.59 x 386 x 250 in

Tom Otterness is one of the world's most prominent public sculptors. His large-scale installations of cartoon-like characters and imagery in bronze have delighted children and intrigued adults at all levels of art-world sophistication for more than forty years. While Otterness's characters are playful, they often carry a political message critical of capitalism and economic imbalance.

If you live or have ridden the subways in New York City, for example, you may have rushed by one of the artist's installations, which range in size from small to monumental. His work deals with themes of money, class, and the individual's role in society. Inspired by overtly political imagery such as police men rousing the homeless, and thieves pulling bags of money up flights of stairs, Otterness's work also includes references to fairy tales and animal spirits in the form of bears riding bulls, "cash cows," and the Old Woman and the Shoe.

A graduate of the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program (ISP), don't let Otterness's charming Lilliputian figures fool you. Found both in institutional settings and in public parks in locations such as Munich, Paris, and Venice Beach, they embody an explicitly political practice keenly aware of social class and economic imbalance.