Posts Tagged ‘Rockefeller Center sculpture’

Does this Midtown statue look like Mussolini?

January 12, 2012

Recognize this guy? It’s the Art Deco bronze statue of Atlas, the mythological Titan who held up the heavens.

He stands guard outside Rockefeller Center on Fifth Avenue, across from St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

When the statue was unveiled in 1937, some New Yorkers thought they recognized a different face: Benito Mussolini, the Italian fascist dictator.

Naturally this didn’t go over well in the late 1930s. An outcry ensued, and a protest was held.

“The artists, Lee Lawrie and Rene Chambellan, insisted no such tribute was made, and the issue was eventually forgotten,” wrote Brad Dunn and Daniel Hood in New York: The Unknown City.

Mussolini’s wasn’t the only visage some onlookers saw in the statue. “Others claimed the work resembled Christ when viewed from certain angles,” reports The Great Depression in America: A Cultural Encyclopedia, Volume 2.

[top photo from]