Le Carrousel in Bryant Park
The word "carousel" has been traced to twelfth-century Arabian games of
horsemanship called "carosellos" or "little wars." The game consisted of
riders tossing a small perfumed clay ball from one rider to another. By the
16th century these games spread to France where the events were elaborated;
people wore fanciful costumes and engaged in tournaments of drama called
"Carrousels." Eventually the art form became more tactile, as artists began to
sculpt crudely shaped horses. In the late nineteenth century American artists
broke from European tradition. To the dashing horses, artists added an entire
menagerie of elegant animals, often accompanied by flowers, bells, plump
cherubs, and flashing mirrors.
Le Carrousel in Bryant Park, specially created to complement the park's
French classical style, is an homage to both European and American traditions.
Its fourteen delightful animals, replicas of classic carousel creatures,
revolve to the sounds of French cabaret music. The rounding boards, inspired
by Bryant Park's elegant baroque-style torchères along 40th Street, blend into
the leafy canopy of the park's plane trees.
Fabricon Carousel Company, whose artists designed and created Le Carrousel,
was based in Brooklyn, N.Y., and has hundreds of other installations as far
away as China and as close as Riverbank State Park on the Upper West Side of
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