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Artist Tatzu Nishi Offers Surprising Perspective of Columbus Circle

Photo: Samantha Chang/TheImproper

Renowned Japanese artist Tatzu Nishi is giving New Yorkers a fresh new perspective on Columbus Circle, a Manhattan landmark near Central Park.

In his work, “Discovering Columbus,” visitors can sit in a contemporary living room constructed around the iconic statue of Christopher Columbus.

In this ground-breaking and unconventional piece, Nishi has designed a hip, modern 810-square-foot living room six stories above the busy Columbus Monument traffic circle.

Tatzu Nishi Turns Statue Into Coffetable Art


The centerpiece is a 13-foot statue of Italian explorer Christopher Columbus standing tall and proud in the middle of a beautifully furnished living quarter.

The furnishings include armchairs, a sectional sofa, lamps and wallpaper featuring likenesses of American pop-culture icons Michael Jackson, Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley. The display is encased in scaffolding some 70 feet off the ground.

Nishi is known around the world for his temporary artworks that transform our experience of monuments, statues, and architectural details. “Discovering Columbus” is his first project in the United States.

The youthful-looking Nishi, 52, was born in Nagoya, Japan, but now splits his time between Berlin and Tokyo. His ground-breaking works take traditional statues out of their everyday contexts to create unique, intimate encounters with familiar monuments.

His past works include “Villa Victoria” (2002), a temporary functioning hotel around a statue of Queen Victoria for the 2002 Liverpool Biennial, and The Merlion Hotel (2011), a temporary hotel suite built around Singapore’s iconic Merlion fountain.

“Discovering Columbus,” which was underwritten with $1.5 million raised by the Public Art Fund, is on display until Nov. 18, 2012. Admission is free, but visitors must reserve passes in advance online.

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