Controversial Hirst Sculpture to Remain Standing

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Aby Rosen. Photo: © 2014 Patrick McMullan Company, Inc.

Art collector Aby Rosen, who also serves as chairman of the New York State Council on the Arts (see What is Collector Aby Rosen Doing as New York’s Arts Council Chairman), has reached a compromise with the planning board of the Village of Old Westbury, New York, to keep a controversial Damien Hirst sculpture on his estate, the New York Times reports.

Local residents and neighbors complained about graphic nature of The Virgin Mother, a 33-foot-tall (10 meter) painted bronze of a pregnant woman with an exposed fetus, which could be seen from a private road leading to Rosen’s property. According to the report, the board even debated passing legislation to ban structures, including artworks, from rising higher than 25 feet (7.6 meters).

According to Old Westbury mayor Fred J. Castillo, the compromise entails a new landscaping plan that will see the sculpture installed in the pocket of a hill so that it rises only 25 feet above ground level and that the detailed anatomy will be turned towards the house instead of the road. Rosen additionally agreed to maintain all-season landscaping that will shield the statue from view year-round and to refrain from artificially illuminating the artwork.

Rosen’s lawyer, Peter MacKinnon told the paper, “The village approvals have all been obtained, everybody’s happy.”


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