NEW YORK (AP) – What was that mammoth dark hulk sailing slowly through the air in the middle of the moonlit Manhattan night?
A 6-ton, $12 million bronze sculpture by Henry Moore that has graced a reflecting pool at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for four decades was moved just before dawn Saturday to New Jersey. It’s temporary – to protect the treasure during the redevelopment of the world’s largest performing arts complex.
“Late night heavy metal,” read a tongue-in-cheek statement from Lincoln Center Inc., the umbrella group for the center’s dozen arts organizations, including the New York Philharmonic, the Lincoln Center Theater, the Metropolitan Opera and the Juilliard School.
At 2 a.m., under a nearly full moon, “the mother of all cranes” lifted half of the two-piece sculpture into the air, then onto a flatbed truck waiting on West 65th Street, center spokeswoman Betty Vorce said. The second part of the Moore followed.
To make sure there would be no bumps in the night, the nocturnal logistical extravaganza took about seven hours, following an intricately scheduled choreography.
Starting at 10 p.m., each part of the Moore was wrapped, padded and attached to rigging cables. Then the hoisting began. By 5 a.m., the sculpture was secured to the truck, which rolled off into the New York dawn.
“Reclining Figure” was created by the late British artist for Lincoln Center and installed in 1965 between the Vivian Beaumont Theater and Avery Fisher Hall.
The work was inspired by an animal bone Moore had found in the garden of his 16th-century English farmhouse, Hoglands – a shape that grew in the sculptor’s imagination into an abstract female figure intercut with voids.
“When I study a bone, I look for its human implications,” Moore once said.
In the fall of 2008, the sculpture is scheduled to return to exactly the same spot in the middle of the reflecting pool, using a 3-D computerized “map” of its old position created with a laser device that measured the distances from the sculpture to each surrounding building.
It’s how Moore would have wanted it. He created “Reclining Figure” in precise relation to its environment – concert halls and public spaces that are part of the center’s 16-acre urban campus, which is undergoing a renovation expected to cost about $1 billion.
Until the area around the reflecting pool is done, “Reclining Figure” will rest in a Harrison, N.J., warehouse.
Lincoln Center’s open-air, kinetic art show didn’t end Saturday.
Another artwork is to be moved on Monday – an Alexander Calder mobile-like work standing near the pool just steps away from the Moore site.