Central Park

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Bird Flying Machine


This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found postedwithin the park.

This distinctive bronze sculpture by Dolly Perutz (1908-1979) is situated on the roof of The Arsenal, the site of Parks headquarters and former home of the Museum of Natural History. Cast at Modern Art Foundry in Astoria, Queens, the work consists of a modeled bird’s head and feet connected by stylized plumage made from welded bronze plates.

Sculptor Dolly Perutz was born in Prague and moved to the United States during early adulthood. While her art would always exhibit the influence of central European folklore and imagination, Perutz’s medium evolved throughout her career, as woodblock prints gave way to playful lithographs, encaustic studies, and sculptures. In the mid-1960s, when many artists were exploring conceptual or pop references, Perutz abandoned her figurative style and began to experiment with abstract juxtapositions of color and texture, creating her first wax sculpture molds.

A sense of surrealistic dreaming posed with pleasant humor layered Perutz’s work as she moved into three-dimensional art. Taking her cue from the “gothic bestiary” of Jean Dubuffet, she based her sculptures on the same principles of juxtaposition that had informed her encaustics in the previous decade. Bird Flying Machine, with its organic head and feet set against smooth, polished feathers, embodies this jarring ideal.

Perutz has had numerous one-person exhibitions in New York City and elsewhere; her works are in many public collections including the Guggenheim Museum, the Museum of Modern Art, and Fordham University. Exhibited at Bodley Gallery in 1981, this sculpture was executed in 1973, and installed on the Arsenal Roof in 1991.

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Bird Flying Machine Details

  • Location: Arsenal South Roof, southwest corner facing southwest turret
  • Sculptor: Dolly Hellman Perutz
  • Description: Figure on integral plinth
  • Materials: Bronze
  • Dimensions: Figure H: 2'9" W: 4'; weight: 130 pounds
  • Cast: 1973
  • Dedicated: 1991
  • Foundry: Modern Art Foundry
  • Donor: Tino Perutz

Please note, the NAME field includes a primary designation as well as alternate namingsoften in common or popular usage. The DEDICATED field refers to the most recent dedication, most often, butnot necessarily the original dedication date. If the monument did not have a formal dedication, the yearlisted reflects the date of installation.

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8163

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