The Griffin on this Throne Leg (Western Iran, Late 7th – Early 8th Centuries) exemplifies the use of powerful winged animals (real and imaginary) as symbols of royalty. The mythical beast’s long history stretches back to about 3000 B.C., when it appeared in the art of Egypt and the Middle East, and it may have been introduced to western Iran through contacts with Sogdian, Central Asia. Here, the creature has been adapted to a tradition of animal-legged thrones in Iranian art. In pre-Islamic Iran, the griffin — a combination of lion and eagle, two animals associated with the sun — was seen as a vehicle of ascension, implying the ruler’s elevation to the status of god. In the early years of the Islamic period, new rulers appropriated the symbol to convey power and legitimacy.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum if Art in NYC.
I haven’t walked much on the High Line this winter, and I specially try to stay away from it at night, when there could be hidden ice or slippery conditions, or when isolation could make for unsafe circumstances. But this past week I was at an opening on 28th Street and decided on the spur of the moment to just walk the few blocks along the elevated park until I reached 23rd Street and could walk down to a bus. What scary fun it was to come upon this sculpture waiting in the semi-darkness at 24th Street!
This imposing figure is called Sphinx Joachim, and he is creation of artist Marguerite Humeau (b. 1986, France). Humeau is fond of using her artworks to weave factual events into speculative narratives, enabling unknown, invisible, or extinct forms of life to erupt in grandiose splendor. For the High Line, Humeau has proposed a sphinx as a winged lion that protects the site against potential enemies. Equipped with motion detectors, Sphinx Joachim roars as an alarm every time it senses a human presence. Scary, especially in the dark!
Sphinx Joachim is part of the High Line’s Mutations series and will be on display through March, 2018.
I’m not sure of the exact location of this painting of a giant Yellow Prancing Cat with Wings and a huge Cheshire Cat-like Grin, but it is visible from the High Line Park, somewhere between 30th and 20th Streets.
Here it is with slightly more perspective, if that helps.
Update 1/16/18: I just discovered that the artist is Joseph Ford! Thanks, Internet!