One of the most striking images from Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy are the two huge statues standing on either bank of the River Anduin which the Fellowship pass toward the end of the first film. As with many striking concepts from fantasy, this is an image drawn from real life – statuary is not an art form confined to human sized figures. Today we’re taking a look at some of the most impressive statues in the world, to show where you can go to see art on an unmatchably huge scale.
Maybe it’s wise to begin at the beginning. One of the oldest still existing monumental statues in the world is the Great Sphinx of Giza. At 20 metres tall it’s far from the biggest statue on our list but it’s all the more impressive viewing it in the knowledge that it was built with nothing more than manpower and wooden scaffolding.
The palpable weight of the history resting on its shoulders means this is one you have to see in person: it’s probably the closest you can get to the imagination of Tolkien that Peter Jackson painted on the cinema screen, with the added draw of being real, part of the story of our history.
The Russian Master
If the modern age has a master of colossal sculpture and statuary it’s Zurab Tsereteli. A Russian artist of international reputation, his works have been gifted around the world, almost singlehanded recreating Russia’s artistic reputation during and after the cold war.
Picking a single recommendation from his long and storied career is a difficult choice, but many are publicly accessible so the enthusiast can enjoy tracking them all down. His ‘Breaking the Wall of Distrust’ is a notable feature of the City of London’s Cannon Street, donated and installed in the wake of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR and looking towards a brighter future.
In America his sculptures adorn many college campuses but of particular note is his Tear of Grief in New Jersey, a monument to the victims of the 9/11 terrorist attack which symbolises an international outpouring sympathy in the face of such a tragedy.
There is only one place to finish a list like this. The statue of Christ the Redeemer overlooking Rio de Janeiro is one of the most iconic public artworks in the world. Sat on an 8 metre high base, itself on a 700 metre high mountain, the 30 metre high statue rises over the city, arms out and embracing the skyline, and indeed the sky itself.
It defines the whole character of the city, and taking it in in person is an unforgettable experience that everyone deserves at least once in their life.