A Tourist holds hands with artist Tony Matelli's "Sleepwalker" (2014), on the Highline as part of the show "Wanderlust" April 25, 2016. Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images

Strategically placed in one of the most popular tourist sites in New York, many passersby on the High Line have lined up to take pictures with a half-naked man sporting sagging Hanes underwear, who appears to lurch forward with closed eyes. The piece is titled Sleepwalker by American artist Tony Matelli.

The artist’s approach to making hyper-realistic sculptures has also made them a target. Two years ago, Matelli’s sleepwalking man was placed in Wellesley College, Massachusetts, and was vandalized with yellow paint. The controversy that occurred after the installment of the artwork was centered around the work being viewed as “threatening” by some students.

Last year, the artist created a lost seeing-eye dog sculpture in the New York City subway line on 72nd Street and Broadway. It was stolen and later found abandoned at Riverside Park.

Tony Matelli. A Tourist stops to pose with Matelli’s “Sleepwalker” (2016). Courtesy of Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Now, the sleepwalker is firmly planted in New York for the next year as part of the elevated park’s “Wanderlust” group exhibition, and tourists are loving it. Most of the sightseers below were too occupied with selfies, hugs, and Instagram opportunities to confront the “lost and adrift” sculpture, which, as the High Line advertises, “questions the extent to which any one of us is ever fully aware of our own surroundings.

Check out some of the most bizarre photos we’ve seen so far.

Tony Matelli. A tourist holds hands with Sleepwalker (2016). Courtesy of Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Tony Matelli. A tourist with Sleepwalker (2016). Courtesy of Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Tony Matelli. A tourist embraces Sleepwalker (2016). Courtesy of Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Tony Matelli. Tourists stop to look at Sleepwalker (2016). Courtesy of Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Tony Matelli. Tourist pose with Sleepwalker (2016). Courtesy of Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Tony Matelli. Tourists stop to look at Sleepwalker (2016). Courtesy of Timothy A. Clary/AFP/Getty Images.

Sleepwalker is on view at the High Line from April 2016-March 2017.


Follow artnet News on Facebook:


Want to stay ahead of the art world? Subscribe to our newsletter to get the breaking news, eye-opening interviews, and incisive critical takes that drive the conversation forward.