Monolith Mania Comes to Chelsea

‘‘God of Some Things’’ (center) by Huma Bhabha, alongside various monolithic sculptures at the exhibition “Between the Earth and Sky” at the Kasmin Gallery.Credit…Nina Westervelt for The New York Times

I don’t blame you if you never want to hear the word monolith again. It was certainly one of the most misused terms of 2020. It officially means “one stone” (mono for one and lith for stone or carving, from the Greek word lithos), and was pressed into overtime last fall when social media was inundated by reports of “mystery monoliths.”

Perhaps the real mystery lies in how the word monolith, even though incorrect, was instantly and globally adopted to describe that column — a column of metal, not stone —— that was discovered in November in a remote section of the Utah desert and spawned a series of copycat sculptures.

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