1. Jatayu, Kerala, India
According to Hindu legend, Jatayu was an enormous eagle, the son of Aruna, the god who ferries the sun across the sky. In the epic Ramayana, Jatayu sees the demon-lord Ravana attempt to abduct princess Sita. Jatayu heroically tries to stop Ravana but is gravely injured in the fight. He dies, not before telling Sita’s husband Rama what has transpired.
The tremendous sculpture depicts Jatayu in his last moments and is said to be the largest sculpture of a bird in the entire world.
2. Rhinoceros Wearing Lace, Marbella, Spain
This sculpture by Salvador Dali has a long and storied history. In 1514, Muzaffar II, sultan of the Indian kingdom of Gujarat, sent a diplomatic gift to King Manuel I of Portugal: a living Indian rhinoceros named Genda. The horned pachyderm was a huge sensation, as no one in Europe has seen such a beast since the days of the Roman Empire.
Soon, rumors of the creature’s appearance washed over all of Europe, and with each retelling and illustration, it became more fanciful. Famous German artist Albrecht Dürer hadn’t even seen Genda with his own eyes when he drew it, complete with what appears to be a suit of armor.
Dali was fascinated with Dürer’s fanciful rhino and had a reproduction in his room. Rhinoceros Wearing Lace is a perfect 3D model of the famous Dürer woodcut, with added elements in the form of thorny globes.
3. Ozymandias, Amarillo, Texas
If monuments are meant to last forever, then what this statue attempts to capture is the temporary nature of everything. The late artist, Texas native Lightnin’ McDuff, was inspired by this famous poem by Percy Bysshe Shelley:
I met a traveller from an antique land,
Who said—“Two vast and trunkless legs of stone
Stand in the desert. . . . Near them, on the sand,
Half sunk a shattered visage lies, whose frown,
And wrinkled lip, and sneer of cold command,
Tell that its sculptor well those passions read
Which yet survive, stamped on these lifeless things,
The hand that mocked them, and the heart that fed;
And on the pedestal, these words appear:
My name is Ozymandias, King of Kings;
Look on my Works, ye Mighty, and despair!
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay
Of that colossal Wreck, boundless and bare
The lone and level sands stretch far away.”
4. Babies, Prague, Czechia
These creepy mammoth babies can be found in Kampa Island in Prague or crawling up Žižkov Television Tower. At over 8 feet tall, these babies had their human faces replaced with a barcode stamp. Yikes.
5. Rubber Duck
This inflatable sculpture has traveled the world, visiting such locales as Brazil, Azerbaijan, Australia, Japan, the US and more. The duck, as the name suggests, is a giant facsimile of the popular bath toy, and is actually created anew for each appearance. The size of the duck is truly colossal, between 50-100 feet high. It is fully buoyant and there is at least one recorded instance of it drifting off.
6. Ocean Atlas, Nassau, Bahamas
Jason deCaires Taylor specializes in making gorgeous sculptures underwater. While most statues are built to resist the elements, deCaires Taylor makes his sculptures with the express intention of fostering a relationship with the flora and fauna of the ocean, and so all of his works become covered in algae and corals, lending it all a sense of a world lost beneath the waves. His largest sculpture yet, at around 16 feet and 60 tons, is Ocean Atlas, a girl carrying the weight of the water on her shoulders.
7. Wat Samphran, Sam Phran, Thailand
This Buddhist temple is a 17-story, 260-feet tall pink tower around which a tremendous oriental dragon is coiled. Inside the scaled beast is a spiraling staircase leading to the top of the temple. Whereas in the west dragons were seen as evil, sometimes synonymous with the devil himself, in the east, dragons are seen as semi-divine creatures who wield great power over the elements of nature.
8. 1004 Portraits, Chicago, Illinois
Jaume Plensa, a Catalan master of public art, is the mind behind these four towering busts of adolescent girls, the largest of which, “Look Into My Dreams, Awilda” is 40 feet tall. Why 1004? Because nearby stands another monumental work of Plensa’s: Crown Fountain, which incorporates “at least a 1000” that are projected onto a monumental fountain. The faces on the fountain are captured in video and appear to spout the water from their mouths.
9. A-Maze-Ing Laughter, Vancouver, Canada
A labyrinth of fourteen 10-foot tall bronze sculptures, each depicting the artist, Chinese sculptor Yue Minjun, frozen in perpetual and hysterical laughter. Though the self-portraits may appear mocking or intimidating, a dedication reads “may this sculpture inspire laughter playfulness and joy in all who experience it”.
10. Hakone Open Air Museum, Hakone, Japan
A quintessentially Japanese museum, the Open Air Museum is conceptualized as the perfect marriage of art and nature. The open pastures of this marvelous compound are full of unique sculptures, structures and an especially artistic playground.
11. Bregenz Festival, Bregenz, Austria
One of the most important stage arts festivals in the world, the Bregenz Festival is noteworthy for featuring the world’s largest floating stage, situated over Lake Constance. This stage is used for large-scale operas, musicals, and plays and is designed according to the theme of the current festival. In 2011 and 2012 the stage was modeled after Jacques-Louis David’s famous painting, The Death of Marat.