She stands 33 feet tall, her body bronze and red in the winter sun, slashed open to reveal her skull, her tissue, and her developing fetus.
“The Virgin Mother” is arguably the ugliest statue of Mary ever created.
The creation of internationally acclaimed British artist Damien Hirst, the controversial work stands on the historic Old Westbury estate belonging to real estate mogul Aby Rosen; and Rosen’s neighbors are not happy about it. They’re so unhappy, in fact, that a lawsuit has been filed and a public hearing has been scheduled for May 19.
Among options being considered by Mayor Frank Carillo and the village board:
- Impose a 25′ height restriction on any “accessory structures” (including statues) in the conservation easement where it currently stands, thereby making the Marian statue illegal.
- Turn the statue so that the graphic portions (the fetus and internal organs) would be visible only from the Rosen house, not from the street.
- Relocate the work to another spot on the 5.5 acre estate, so that it is visible only to the family, not to neighbors.
Old Westbury has stringent zoning codes and standards which protect the views for all residents. For example, homeowners may not plant hedges or install structures–such as cabanas–which would prevent others from enjoying the rolling hills.
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The statue, one of more than 900 artworks in Rosen’s collection, was purchased in 2005. Before that, it stood in the courtyard at Lever House in midtown Manhattan.
It’s one of several versions that Hirst has created. One, in which the Virgin is wielding a sword, stands more than 60 feet tall.