The Eye

This imposing bronze sculpture called simply “The Eye” is one of Jeddah’s many striking public works of art. It was placed in the Al Hamra Open Air Museum along the famous Corniche next to the Red Sea, although initial plans had been to place it either next to the Maghrabi Eye Hospital or the local TV station. The French sculptor Cesar Baldaccini created this unusual masterpiece along with “The Fist,” which I showcased in an earlier post, and “The Thumb,” which unfortunately is part of a private collection and is not accessible to the public. Former Mayor of Jeddah, Mohamed Said Farsi, who was the brains and the vision behind the massive beautification project of the city back in the 1970s, said that Cesar was “a man who uses his skills and materials to express the spirit of an era in which beauty and ugliness are both found.”

About SusieOfArabia

American woman now living in hubby's homeland of Saudi Arabia
This entry was posted in Art, Landmarks, Middle East, Photo, Saudi Arabia, Sculptures and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Eye

  1. Actually, the Thumb (الإبهام) was once (in the early 80s) on public display in Jeddah, at the intersection of two streets (one of them was, if recall correctly, Palestine St, – can’t remember the other). I know because I lived quite close it it and would see it every day. 🙂

    • Thanks, John – I would love to see The Thumb one day. Actually many of the sculptures have been moved to new locations, including The Eye, because of the dismantling of the big roundabouts which are being replaced with overpasses to try to improve traffic flow. There has been a restoration project undertaken to repair and refurbish many of the sculptures which were in desperate need of attention. The Eye has been brought back to its original splendor and relocated to a lovely new sculpture park in the Middle Corniche, but so far The Fist is still untouched and its finish is looking very sad.

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  3. Mozn says:


    I really loved what you’re doing ..

    and I want to ask you something

    I tried many times to research about sculptures history all over jeddah

    and especially the Fist sculpture, but unfortunately I didn’t find any website that have all that information you post for every piece of art here in Jeddah

    So, would you please tell me where can i find all the info about them

    Thank so much for all what your doing here and I appreciate how do you work hard to give us all that beauty that we don’t notice.



    • It is very difficult to find out information about all the sculptures of Jeddah! I have tried researching on the web, but there is just not that much information to be had there. I have gotten some information from direct conversations with Jeddah natives, but there is really no way for me to substantiate the information, so I am not sure how accurate it is. The best source for information on some of the beautiful sculptures of Jeddah is the book JEDDAH, CITY OF ART by Hani M S Farsi, who is a son of the former Jeddah Mayor Mohammed Said Farsi. Mayor Farsi is the one responsible for the planning and transformation of the city when the oil boom growth was in full swing back in the 1970s and 80s. The book is a wonderful source of information and photos of the sculptures, however it is now almost twenty years since it was first published and the book does not contain data or photos about all of Jeddah’s sculptures. I just created a new page on this blog which lists all of the posts I have published about Jeddah’s amazing art. The link is right under the blog header at the top. I will continue to publish more and more photos of these sculptures – I just can’t get enough of them!

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  5. Marc says:

    What a fascinating work of art. I really like the color and the texture and its simplicity. Nice that the kids are in the picture, so you can see how big it is.

  6. Judy says:

    Interesting sculpture none the less.

  7. Hi Marahm –
    I honestly don’t know how the citizens of Jeddah feel about this piece of art. They are used to seeing them everywhere, I’m afraid some may even take them for granted and not pay much attention. This piece, while impressive and bold, is not one of my favorites. It’s a big bronze wall with an eye on it – I like simplicity but I also like more substance! There are also some similar pieces of “art” here like the beams you described – I have refrained from posting them…

    Hi Elaine – I have noticed that some body parts seem to be okay to display around here, but not an entire being, except of course it’s the king or other royal family members. Even store mannequins here are headless and some are even armless. It’s a tad confusing to me. And yes, much of it seems “eye”ronic!

    Hi GeoGypsy! Hi Susan! Thanks so much for commenting! Glad you liked it!

    Hi Sonia – Much of the new architecture here is ultra-modern, so there is a very forward thinking faction at work here. If only the other areas -such as how women figure into society here – would catch up! This country is such a mix of the really old and the really new, it seems contradictory and confusing.

    • Jaio says:

      Hi Suzy, about the headless mannequins, everywhere in the world the new mannequins are made without head because it’s in fashion since already 15 years. In fact, to put a head, is to show the style of the shop, while without head, the mannequin is more anonimous and can be use just like an hanger to put any kind of clothes. I say that because I’m a sculptor specialised in this field (see my site
      Concerning the eye of Cesare Baldaccini (An Italian sculptor settled in Paris) I think that this is not bronze but just iron. The rusted surface can be like this just because over there rain is rare. About the finger of Cesare Baldaccini I think that he did more then one if it is his own tumb. To do that, he moulded his own tumb to have a realistic effect. Then he asked to a specialized french workshop with a special pantograph to enlarge it and when he has the model enlarged in plaster, he made another cast. In this cast he made a tumb in wax and then he gave it to a foundry to made it in bronze. You can see the tumb here and there on internet. Ask about tumb and Cesar or pouce and cesar (Pouce means tumb in french.
      As I have a part of my family there, I will come again.

      • Hi Jaio – Thanks for your comment and information. Most of the mannequins I see in the states do have heads attached to them, and some of them don’t have faces on them, and I know there are some places that have headless mannequins. But here in KSA, they are all headless, even the mannequins of children.
        I get a lot of my information about the sculptures from a book called Jeddah, City of Art which was written by Hani Farsi, the son of the mayor of Jeddah during the time when it was booming with development – most of the city’s sculptures were commissioned during Mr. Farsi’s term as mayor. It was written in this book that this sculpture is made of bronze. The thumb is part of a private collection in Jeddah and is not available for public viewing like most of the sculptures are. Thanks for the info on the process!

  8. Sonia says:

    What strikes me most about this piece is that it was allowed to be placed in the public in the country that has a reputation for its conservatism. But then judging from all the pictures that you have posted its more sexism then conservatism. Generally in Islam pictures, sculptures, and paintings of the people are not supposed to be displayed prominently due to the fear of turning it into an iconoclasm. My husband won’t let me frame the family pictures, or buy paintings that has people or animals as subjects. Hmm…but then in Middle East it is so common to see the ruling family’s pictures all over the billboards…

  9. Susan says:

    Elaine! – groan! that was good play on words.

    I like this piece, really. Some others I’ve rather wondered about, but this one – I like it.

  10. Geogypsy says:

    I love it. So cool to have so much beautiful public art. Hats off to that major.

  11. Elaine says:

    I think it’s very interesting and worthwhile as sculpture. Once again, I’m surprised by the public display of images, like this eye, which cannot be displayed at home! That is to say, because an eye is depicted, it is not properly Muslim. Eye-ronic. {sorry}

  12. Marahm says:

    What do the people say about this, and the other unusual objects that pass for scupture? The former mayor’s quote describing Cesar sounds like an act of diplomacy!

    As a marker of the city, the object is certainly worth a post, but
    I noticed you carefully refrained from giving your own impression of this image.

    In my city, we have a “scupture” which is nothing but five or six I-beams crossed at the center and painted orange. The official media calls the artist a “genius” but the local population calls his work and “eyesore.”

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