A beloved member of the East Village community vanished earlier this week, stolen right under people’s noses in the dead of night. The Astor Place Alamo, also known as “The Cube”, was not at its usual perch on Tuesday morning, as the sculpture by Tony Rosenthal has been taken to Connecticut for repairs.
The sculpture has been a staple of the Astor Place corner for 56 years. It was originally conceived as a temporary installation commissioned as part of the former Sculpture and Environmentalism program in 1967. The name, Alamo (Cube), was given to the project by the sculptor’s wife, Cynthia Rosenthal. She described the cube as reminding her of the Texas fort due to its size and dubbed it as such. Rosenthal designed the 1,800-pound, 8-foot-by-8-foot-by-8-foot cube to be interactive, having described it himself as a “friendly object” intended to be spun among friends. Unfortunately, the cube has fallen into disrepair and has not been able to spin since 2021.
“Generations of New Yorkers have taken The Cube for a spin, and we’re thrilled that DOT and Tony Rosenthal’s estate have reached an agreement to refurbish the iconic sculpture so it can keep spinning for generations to come,” said Cultural Affairs Commissioner Laurie Cumbo in a press release. “Public art is integral to the vibrancy of New York’s public spaces, and the restoration of The Cube ensures that its singular presence will continue to enliven and define this bustling corner of the city.”
A video shared on the Department of Transportation (DOT) Twitter shows the art piece being hoisted from its location and carted away on the bed of a truck.
The Astor Place “Alamo” Cube has been a symbol of the East Village for decades. Last night The Cube was removed as part of an agreement between NYC DOT & the Tony Rosenthal Art Estate. Restoration will be complete this summer when it’s expected to return to its spinning glory. pic.twitter.com/Crq8QUGp88
— NYC DOT (@NYC_DOT) May 9, 2023
This is not the first time the cube has been taken in to be fixed. The work visited the shop in 2005 and 2014. The fabricators, Versteeg Art Fabricators, who repaired the cube in 2005, have been tasked with the job again. The Rosenthal estate, with approval from Cynthia, has undertaken the restoration to keep the artist’s legacy as fresh, alive, and engaging as ever.
“As a gift to the City of NY, Cynthia Rosenthal fully embraced the initial idea to fund the restoration of the Alamo,” added Tony Rosenthal Art Estate Director Dave Petrie. “The partnership between the City (DOT) and the Estate brings a fresh vibe to the renaissance of the artist, Tony Rosenthal.”
Alamo (Cube) will be restored and returned to its rightful position on Astor Place this summer where it will finally spin again.