I’m sorry to post two duck posts in a row, but events in the art world (and beyond) necessitate such a step. On September 27th (2013), Pittsburgh , PA became the first U.S. city to host Dutch artist Florentijn Hofman’s giant floating rubber duck statue. Actually the rubber duck now in Pittsburgh is only one of several giant ducks designed by Hofman for his worldwide show “Spreading Joy Around the World,” which launched in his native Amsterdam. The largest of the ducks, which measured 26×20×32 metres (85×66×105 ft) and weighed over 600 kg (1,300 lb) was launched in Saint Nazaire in Western France.
Hofman’s statues are meant to be fun and playful. His website describes the purpose of the giant duck project simply, “The Rubber Duck knows no frontiers, it doesn’t discriminate people and doesn’t have a political connotation. The friendly, floating Rubber Duck has healing properties: it can relieve mondial tensions as well as define them.”
A list of his sculptural projects reveals that he has the generous and delighted soul of a toymaker. A few example are instructive: he erected a large plywood statue of a discarded plush rabbit named “Sunbathing Hare” in St. Petersburg, a concrete “party aardvark” in Arnhem (Holland), 2 immense slugs made of discarded shopping bags in France (they are crawling up a hill towards a towering gothic church and their inevitable death), and many other playful animal theme pieces.
Not only do Hofman’s works address fundamental Ferrebeekeeper themes like mollusks, art, mammals, and waterfowl, his work hints at the global nature of trade, and human cultural taste in our times. With his industrially crafted giant sculptures and his emphasis on ports around the world, Hofman’s huge toys speak directly to humankind’s delight with inexpensive mass-market products. The art also provokes a frisson of horror at the oppressive gigantism of even our most frivolous pursuits).