An Exhibition Celebrating the 10-year Anniversary of the Permanent Installation of The Guardians: Hero and Superhero at 3 Bryant Park Plaza

Designed by Award-Winning Italian Architect and Designer Antonio Pio Saracino

And Retrospective of Saracino’s Body of Work from the Last Decade

April 10 – April 28, 2023


Maison Gerard presents The Guardians and Beyond, an exhibition celebrating the 10-year anniversary of the installation of The Guardians: Hero & Superhero, the colossal public art works designed by Antonio Pio Saracino. The exhibition will feature a retrospective of Saracino’s work from the last decade with the Hero & Superhero sculptures on the plaza at 3 Bryant Park as the centerpiece.

In 2013, Saracino was presented with two new opportunities: to produce a symbol of Italy in New York on the occasion of the Year of Italian Culture in the U.S., and to create a public art project for the plaza at 3 Bryant Park. His idea, The Guardians: Hero and Superhero, was the answer to both. Hero was a gift from Italy to the United States, donated by the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs; the Embassy of Italy, Washington, D.C.; and the Consulate General of Italy, New York. Superhero was commissioned by the owner of 3 Bryant Park. 

“Antonio is forward thinking in the way he marries materials and technology. With his approach he is blurring boundaries across different mediums with his use of digital technology, elevating materials such as stainless steel and rubber and presenting familiar shapes in unexpected ways. Representing a talent such as Antonio is exciting. I admire his zest for experimentation–he is an architect who produces massive public art projects, makes sculptural furniture and functional art,” explains Benoist F. Drut, owner of Maison Gerard.

The 8,000-pound marble Hero, which is a reinterpretation of Michelangelo’s David, defender of the city of Florence, gazes uptown from 42nd Street as a protector from the past. Its counterpart, Superhero–made of stainless-steel weighing 15,000 pounds, with a cape as an icon of the present–watches over downtown from 41st Street. The sculptures are consistent with Saracino’s overarching aim to combine digitally generated architectural compositions with a powerful, timeless message of resiliency and innovation. 

They soar 13 feet high through a system of repeated planes of marble and polished stainless-steel plates to address the architecture of surrounding skyscrapers. The materials that form the figures are stacked, creating an outline that suggests the movement of the figures within their environment. The alternate layers of marble and stainless steel reveal the city as a backdrop.

Ten years later, Saracino’s two symbolic protectors of New York City still stand strong in the heart of Manhattan, representing the ongoing friendship between the U.S. and Italy and the resurgence of the city as the cultural capital of the world.

Saracino has received major recognition for his public art projects, which explore themes of strength, power, and heroism. This exhibition will unveil the complex process undertaken by the designer to bring The Guardians to life. Throughout the space, original sketches, maquettes of the sculptures, 3-D renderings, photographs, and video will be interspersed with furniture pieces and small sculptures from Saracino’s larger artistic practice. In the tradition of the Renaissance where artists became architects and sculptors became engineers, Saracino is known for his innovative and cutting-edge work in a variety of mediums. With his multi-disciplinary practice, he has designed buildings, interiors, monuments, and furniture. Saracino’s work is part of the permanent collections of the Centre Pompidou in Paris; LACMA; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; and the Museum of Art and Design, New York, among others.

His furniture is harmonious with his sculptural and architectural projects. Of ingenious and meticulous design and execution, its function and form unite in an elegant aesthetic uniquely his own. His sources of inspiration—the origins and development of organic life and other wonders of the natural world—serve as a thread running through all his work; and these sources are, perhaps, most apparent in Saracino’s furniture, alive in his playful and expert interplay of subject, material, and composition.

“It is an honor to be represented by Maison Gerard, a gallery known as a steward for some of the most important designers from the Art Deco period to the Contemporary. Creating public art and a landmark is an incredible privilege because it is about creating a sense of identity for cities, communities, and the building process of our civilization. When I first presented the concept of The Guardians to the project’s selecting committee, I presented the idea to create in a tangible symbol in New York of the superhuman that inspires us to move a step forward every day. We all love superheroes’ stories because they never give up on us. They patiently remind us that we are much stronger than we think we are. Seeing The Guardians standing today reminds us, just like ten years ago, of the universality of that message. I am excited for the public to rediscover them and to share the behind-the-scenes process of their creation and to reveal some of my newest works,” states Antonio Pio Saracino.

By seeing the highlights from his career over the last 10 years along with a few newly created works visitors will understand how Saracino explores new ideas, applies Italian craftsmanship, and blends them with a more contemporary artistic vision. Among the pieces that articulate the fluidity in his work include the Formula One and MotoGP trophy, a Nike sculpture of the winged goddess of Victory, several prototypes from different museum collections, and sculptural furniture made of wood, bronze and marble fabricated in Italy and Brooklyn, New York. In addition, Saracino’s latest landmark The New Arc, a project awarded from a public competition to be built next to the train station in Newark, New Jersey, will also be on display.