Sitting on a ledge on ritzy Madison Avenue of the old Mortgage and Trust Company building, is what looks like a mini clay ledge house. But it’s actually Dwellings for Little People.
The work of artist Charles Simonds, who began constructing these archaeological remains in the 1970s of an imaginary miniature civilization, or as what he likes to call Dwellings for imaginary “Little People”. At first they cropped up in vacant lots, on doorsills and beside curbstones around Soho and the Lower East Side. He would arrive at a site in the morning and begin building his ruins with tweezers, gluing together the tiny, unfired clay bricks that he had made beforehand.
But by the mid 70s the Dwellings began to appear worldwide in Paris, Berlin, London, Dublin and Shanghai as well as in museums like the Whitney and collectors were willing to pay $30,000 for one of his creations.
Simonds built each ruin with the idea that the action of the city would eventually wear them down to nothing. I’m not sure how many still exist in New York, but if you head down to Madison, you’ll be able to see one of the best preserved Dwellings that has been sitting on this windowsill since 1981. Probably one of the most unnoticed pieces of art in the city, don’t forget to bring your binoculars and zoom!
Dwellings on Madison 942 Madison Avenue