Thursday, July 9, 2009


The largest sculptural work at Rockefeller Center (New York City) is this 2-ton statue of ATLAS. Directly across the street from St. Patrick's Cathedral, the piece depicts Atlas carrying the heavens upon his shoulders as punishment for defying Zeus. The sculpture was designed and cast in 1936 by Lee Lawrie and Rene Chambellan. The statue's exaggerated musculature and stylized body are characteristic of the Art Deco style. The north-south axis of the armillary sphere on his shoulders points to the North Star as viewed from New York City. Laid across Atlas's shoulders is a wide, curved beam that displays a frieze of the traditional symbols for Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, and Neptune. Adjacent to Earth (over Atlas's right forearm) is a small crescent symbolizing the Moon. Affixed to one of the sphere's rings are symbols for twelve constellations through which the Sun passes during the year.

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