Vandals Destroy Public Sculpture on Randall’s Island

What's left of Robert Raphael's Untitled Folly (2014). Photo: Courtesy the artist.

What’s left of Robert Raphael’s Untitled Folly (2014).
Photo: Courtesy the artist.

Robert Raphael‘s Untitled Folly (2014), a work made up of six stacks of painted ceramic boxes linked by wooden planks to form something between a miniature cityscape and a muti-level park bench, was destroyed by vandals in the night from June 9 to June 10. The work was part of “FLOW.14,” an exhibition of four specially commissioned outdoor sculpture projects in Randall’s Island Park that opened on May 18.

“The piece was supposed to be on view through November 15th and it has only survived for 3 weeks,” Raphael told artnet News via email. “I was really hoping to get more attention for this work and the entire FlOW exhibition.  As you can imagine this was quite a labor intensive work which I started in September. It was incredible to see it come together and take shape on the site after such a long commitment, but quite a shock to see public art treated this way.”

Though Raphael’s works are made of ceramic, they are built to be very solid, and Untitled Folly was intended to survive the elements for six months.


What’s left of Robert Raphael’s Untitled Folly (2014).
Photo: Courtesy the artist.

“The way I work in porcelain is not in a delicate fashion and ceramics has a strong history of being an architectural material,” Raphael said. “But that fragile perception is a strong conversation in the work. Unfortunately it’s equally damaged by deliberate and violent vandalism such as throwing large rocks from the embankment of the river. ”

“FLOW.14″—which artnet News recently highlighted as one of this summer’s must-see public art shows—will continue with the three surviving works. Meanwhile, an investigation is underway to find the person or people who smashed Raphael’s work.

“There are no leads I know of,” the artist said, “but the police did come and investigate including fingerprinting and collection of DNA.”


Robert Raphael, Untitled Folly (2014).
Courtesy the artist.

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