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The Hero, one of the two monumental Guardians in Bryant Park.

In 2013, Saracino was presented with two new opportunities: to produce a symbol of Italy in New York on the occasion of the Year of Italian Culture in the U.S., and to create a public art project for the plaza at 3 Bryant Park. His idea, The Guardians: Hero and Superhero, was the answer to both. Hero was a gift from Italy to the United States, donated by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Embassy of Italy, Washington, D.C.; and the Consulate General of Italy, New York. Superhero was commissioned by the owner of 3 Bryant Park. 

The 8,000-pound marble Hero, which is a reinterpretation of Michelangelo’s David, defender of the city of Florence, gazes uptown from 42nd Street as a protector from the past. Its counterpart, Superhero–made of stainless-steel weighing 15,000 pounds, with a cape, a symbol of the present–watches over downtown from 41st Street. The sculptures are consistent with Saracino’s overarching aim to embue digitally generated architectural compositions with a powerful, timeless message of resiliency and innovation. 

Composed of a system of repeated planes of marble and polished stainless-steel plates, they soar 13 feet above the plaza to address the architecture of surrounding skyscrapers. This stacking of material, emphasizes the sculptures' outlines, which in turn suggests a certain movement of the figures within their environment. The alternate layers allow the city, as a backdrop, to occupy the visual space within the gaps. (To hear the artist discuss the works himself, watch the video, made in 2013, located at the end of this page, in which he discusses their genesis).

Ten years later, Saracino’s two symbolic protectors of New York City still stand strong in the heart of Manhattan, representing the ongoing friendship between the U.S. and Italy and the resurgence of the city as the cultural capital of the world.

In light of our upcoming show, The Guardians and Beyond—a retrospective of Saracino's ouevre in commemoration of the Guardians' ten year anniversary—we wanted to share this i-italy exclusive featuring the artist, and focusing on the sculptures' conception, creation, and execution. Enjoy!

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