NEW YORK—This fall, when Peter Woytuk’s bronze sculptures of animal figures are installed at 16 outdoor sites in Manhattan between Columbus Circle and 168th Street, for a full year starting this October, it will likely be most New Yorkers’ first exposure to the 53-year-old artist. His work has been exhibited for the past six years at the Morrison Gallery in Kent, Connecticut, most recently in the summer of 2010, but otherwise Woytuk’s sculpture has been represented by the Owings Gallery in Santa Fe, N.M., and most of his sales and commissions have been to collectors in the western U.S.
The ten-mile-long exhibit runs the gamut of his body of work, from small pieces alone or in groupings to monumental bronzes weighing thousands of pounds. For instance, a pair of elephants, measuring 10 feet high and 14 feet long, will be stationed at Columbus Circle, while a balancing bearcat that is 12 feet high and six feet wide, will be installed at Dante Park in front of Lincoln Center; four ostriches between 6 and 9 feet in height, are to be sited between 86th and 87th Streets; sixteen ravens on a rail, which are 6 feet high and 30 feet long, will be located between 139th and 140th Streets; and three bulls in various positions—between 4 and 7 feet in height and 8 to 14 feet in length—will be on view at Mitchell Park at 168th Street.
“Peter’s work is a very sophisticated balance of whimsy and form,” gallery owner William Morrison told ARTnewsletter. “None of his animal figures have eyes, which keeps them from having individual personalities and keeps them essentially abstract images,” says Morrison.
Prices for his work range widely, Morrison said, from $700 for small bronze pieces in open editions to $15,000 for larger works in edition sizes of eight, jumping to $200,000 for his bulls and up to $1 million for the monumental elephants. There are also one-of-a-kind, generally non-monumental works the artist calls “Uniques” that are priced between $3,500 and $70,000, based on size.
Born in St. Paul, Minnesota in 1958, Woytuk majored in art at Kenyon College, Ohio where his interest then was principally in photography. However, after apprenticing with Connecticut sculptor Philip Grausman in the early 1980s, the artist became a committed bronze sculptor, eventually moving to Santa Fe and, more recently, to Thailand where he operates a foundry. Because of the distance and high transportation costs between Thailand and the United States, gallery exhibitions tend to be rare events for this artist, who largely sustains himself from commissions.
Prices for Woytuk’s work have increased gradually over the years. However, “there is virtually no secondary market” for his sculpture, Morrison said. A search of auction price databases turned up no sale results. “People who own a piece of Peter’s tend to keep it,” said Morrison.