This week’s Studio feature is American sculptor Tom Otterness. Otterness is well known for his work in public sculpture. He uses a light, cartoonish style to create works that address more complex social and political issues, drawing in viewers first with the cute, inviting figures, then encouraging deeper thought and discourse.
Otterness’ studio, pictured here, looks aptly large for creating works of public sculpture. A few of those works are visible at the bottom of the frame: what looks like a large pipe - an allusion to Magritte perhaps - and a giant foot or hand. Numerous tables pack the room, possibly holding sheets of drawing paper and drafts and mock-ups for sculptures. There are shelving units stuffed with supplies, and scaffolds waiting for new sculptures to begin construction.
While there isn’t a lot of room to walk around in the studio, it all seems to function as a single space – something like the warehouse-style studios of fellow outdoor sculptors Anish Kapoor or Antony Gormley. Given the highly prolific nature of Otterness’ art practice, the artist likely employs assistants to help him meet his many deadlines and commission demands.
Otterness is the artist behind a number of public sculptures currently installed throughout New York and other cities around the world. He also works with private clients for commissions. While Otterness’ current practice revolves around his sculptures, he got his start working with more varied media including film. An early work which showed the artist shooting a dog was met with intense controversy, and many felt that the artist should be prosecuted for the work. The controversy continues to follow the artist to this day.