At the most watched sporting event in the world, the Super Bowl, the largest free-standing avian sculpture makes its global debut!
More than 100 million people are glued to the screen during the Super Bowl, one of the most watched sporting events in the world, which is broadcast globally in 170 countries. It will be no different this year with Super Bowl LIII, which starts in a few days on the 3rd of February at Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium (MBS).
Szőke’s work was commissioned in 2017 by Arthur Blank, owner of the Atlanta Falcons and Atlanta United, and the curatorial partner of the MBS Art Program, the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD).
The stainless steel falcon is the largest free-standing avian sculpture in the world with a height of 41.5 ft, a wingspan of 72 ft, and a weight of 73 000 lbs. Szőke envisioned the predator’s prey to be a football. With its wings spread apart, it swoops down on the ball showing the steel falcon in the moment of touchdown. Similarly to previous works of the artist, the scale of the bronze football is also grandiose with a radius of 13 ft and weighing 8000 lbs.
Locals and the international press have described the public work as the heart of Atlanta. To realize its impressive proportions, it took 6 months of designing, 8 months of production, 5 months of installation, all in all 2 years with the involvement of 200 people.
The work was made in Gábor M. Szőke’s unique studio and showroom in Budapest. From there, it traveled for a month and a half on land and sea to Atlanta, where it was assembled and installed by his team comprising structural engineers, sculptors, welders and other expert contractors.
During the design process of the sculpture, Gábor M. Szőke was inspired by the fascinating history of the city of Atlanta, which has burnt to the ground, and risen from its ashes two times.
“Before I start designing, wherever that might be in the world, I like to visit the future location of the sculpture, and absorb the local culture, and familiarize myself with the architectural surroundings and local’s way of thinking. Atlanta is exactly like in the films: the tumultuous history of the southern state and the high-tech skyscrapers of fortune 500 companies can be seen side by side. This trail-blazing city was the center of the civil rights movement. The Walking Dead and Gone with the Wind take place in Atlanta as well.
When I was formulating my sculpture, I first drew inspiration from the Falcon’s motto “Rise Up”, which for me signifies overcoming our own obstacles, and liberating ourselves from them.
The ethereal and graceful feel of the bird is achieved through the plastic arrangement of the several thousand individually welded stainless steel plates, and the precise structural engineering and execution. The glass walls of the MBS reflect the feathers of the bird, just as the reflection of some of Atlanta’s iconic buildings can be seen in the mirror-like eyes of the bird of prey. It’s going to be an amazing experience to see my bird again after two years, and especially at the Super Bowl, when the whole world will be watching. Sculptures such as mine build community, and I am grateful to be a part of this process” said Gábor M. Szőke.
Gábor M. Szőke’s work, the Atlanta Falcon, the largest free-standing avian sculpture in the world, landed in its eminent location among such important Atlantan sights as the Coca-Cola Museum, the CNN Center or the Georgia Aquarium.
Featured image: Gábor Miklós Szőke
Source: Gábor Miklós Szőke – Press Release