Most town centers or squares have a statue or sculpture commemorating some historical hero or great legend of the area. Some show off more contemporary icons who used to frequent the locality or some are an artistic tribute or representation of an idea. Whatever it is, most places have statues. However, every now and then, you might spot one that is a little out of the norm or not your usual representation of a person doing something dignified. Here we look at 10 of the strangest statues from around the world.
1. De Zuirveringsengel – Ghent, Belgium
Most churches or churchyards have statues of angels about that are a representation of these heavenly creatures that sit at the right hand of God. As such, they are rarely threatening but more welcoming and supposedly offering protection as they look over you. In Belgium however, this angel in Ghent, on top of the Monastery of the Augustinian Fathers, is a sculpture by Tom Frantzen who is renowned for his weird and wonderful artworks. Raising its trumpet in a rather imposing manner and wearing a gas mask, this angel is supposedly railing against mankind’s chemical warfare and pollution of the planet and is known as the ‘angel of purification’.
2. Melting Cow – Budapest, Hungary
This strange melting cow statue was part of an art project that is staged in cities across the globe where statues of cows were placed across each city. Depending on where the Cow Parade is touring, the statues are created by local artists. When the Cow Parade came to Budapest, however, this popsicle themed cow was named ‘ice cream’ and placed outside St Istvan’s Basilica. Although there was no intended meaning behind the statue, some Catholic groups found its placement offensive and thought it derogatory towards the church and so had it moved outside the Liberal Headquarters.
3. Upside Down Charles La Trobe – Melbourne, Australia
Charles La Trobe was one of the first Governor’s of Victoria in Australia and established Melbourne University, the Botanical Gardens and the State Library but has largely been forgotten in Australia, so when commemorating the 40th anniversary of La Trobe University, sculpture Charles Rob used the opportunity to highlight the ironies of commemorative statues. Asking whether grand statues on big marble plinths are valid anymore it pokes fun at the fact La Trobe is better known in England than Australia and so it would be viewed the correct way up on the other side of the planet.
4. Alien Gargoyle – Paisley, Scotland
A small town just outside of Glasgow, Paisley is steeped in history and has many ancient buildings including Paisley Abbey and St. Mirin’s Cathedral. However, it is the former which now has a rather interesting adornment on it due to some work done on it in the 1990s. Built in the 13th century, like most churches of a certain era, Paisley Abbey had several gargoyles on its roof designed in grotesque mannerisms in order to scare away evil spirits but over the centuries they had become worn and fallen into disrepair. Around 1991, a stonemason was contracted to produce some newer gargoyles for the church and one has a distinctive resemblance to the monster that from the Alien series of films. At the time, the second film had only been released 5 years prior and a third was going to be released the following year so it is possible they would have been in the public consciousness. Taking this on board, the stonemason obviously had some fun with his new creations and added the creature to the abbey. Still there today, it has become something of a social media sensation in recent years although the resemblance was noted as far back as 1997.
5. Smashing Salmon – Oregan, USA
This salmon smashing its way through a wall has no real meaning apart from the fact it is placed on Salmon Street in Portland, Oregon. A historic area of the city, it is now the epicentre of the food hub where industries, restaurants and caterers are based for the savvy buyer to seek out the best culinary treats on offer, so when you see the giant, golden salmon, you know you are in the right place for some good grub.
6. Bad Dog – California, USA
A 28-foot tall labrador in the standard leg-cocked posed was placed at the Orange County Museum for a Richard Jackson exhibition. What’s more, every so often, a hosepipe within the sculpture would sprain yellow paint onto the side of the building that would dribble down its side. Although no immediate explanation as to the meaning behind the statue was forthcoming, many speculated that it was a comment on the architecture of the gallery as it has no windows and seemingly offers no relationship with the space the art inside occupies.
7. Popped Up – Budapest, Hungary
A giant, surging his way to the surface from underground, this sculpture appeared in Budapest, Hungary as well as Ulm in Germany. Supposed to represent the symbolism of freedom, the desire to break free, the curiosity and the dynamics of development it was created by Hungarian artist Ervin Herve-Loranth.
8. Man Hanging Out – Prague, Czech Republic
A comment on 20th-century intellectualism by famous sculptor David Cerny, it has caused some consternation of passers-by who thought it might genuinely be a man in danger but is actually an effigy of Sigmund Freud and a comment on his theories in which the artist is cynical about. On closer inspection, you can see that the famous psychologist doesn’t seem too bothered by his predicament as he casually keeps one hand in his pocket.
9. Crocodile Eating A Capitalist – New York, USA
A cartoon alligator pops out of the sewer and gobbles up a man with a bag of money for a head. Not only a tribute to an incident that happened in New York City where, in 1935, an alligator crawled out of a manhole in Harlem and was promptly beaten to death, it is also a comment on the corporate nature of the world we live in today and the bankers who play with money within the city limits.