Art in a contemporary sense can take on a different significance in the context of its location. Such is the case with the installations of Tony Tasset monumental works encountered in the setting of Laumeier Sculpture Park in the Saint Louis suburban community of Sunset Hills.
Master of the vernacular, mixed-media artist Tony Tasset sends-up Americana and the American dream in his sardonic, sculptures, installations, films, and photographs, which he describes as “Pop Conceptual.” He generates works that he sends across the country and abroad - A giant Paul Bunyan with uncharacteristically drooping shoulders; snowmen and smashed jack-o-lanterns; abstract compositions on panel of colored blotches spilling from various consumer products and fast foods; and a grotesque, cartoonish figure composed of hotdogs. Citing and Walt Disney as influences, Tasset aims to tap into—and twist—iconic American imagery, asking: “Could I take something that's so banal, so quoted, that everybody has kind of made, and could I treat it like a ? Could I give it that pathos and existential angst?”
Tony Tasset (b. 1960, Cincinnati, Ohio, based in Chicago, Illinois) is proudly featured at Laumeier with his Eye (a favorite of visitors – especially kids) and recently added Deer 2015 which first caught the attention of sculpture park board members at Miami’s Art Basel celebration. Meanwhile in Chicago The Year of Public Art was kicked into gear this past summer on the Chicago Riverwalk with public art installations that included a most noticeable sculpture by Tony Tasset - a deer (between Franklin and Lake Streets) for a limited time. The giant lifelike deer gazed into the distance as boat tours and selfie-takers pass in front of it. At Laumeier a Tony Tasset deer seems so very at home for visitors to enjoy as it was introduced formally at the Big Dinner fundraising event in September 2017.
The Eye and the Deer can be seen, in this context, matter-of-factly and with a greater sense of permanence. It is, perhaps an important differentiator of what it means to have such works on view in our own backyard.
Drawing by young girl who was visiting the park on Family Fun Day on 10-08-17