How to build a giant: The making of WWE's Andre the Giant statue

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April 03, 2013

How do you find someone to make a towering figure of a professional wrestler? The answer was simple — ATTA Inc., the same Manhattan-based group that created the busts for the New York Giants. Artist Karen Atta had been running her studio for nearly 30 years, creating a diverse array of hand-crafted designs like a giant-sized Captain America figure for Universal Studios in California and a striking bronze statue of Dr. Martin Luther King for Detroit’s Solanus Casey Center. She created athletes and politicians from scratch. A request to bring “The Eighth Wonder of the World” to life did not faze her.

“We’ve gotten some very odd requests over the years, but Andre’s unusual because he’s a life-size person who is larger than life,” Atta told WWE.com.

The giant's mythic size was documented to the point of exhaustion during his near 30-year career in sports-entertainment, making the logistics of the Andre sculpture surprisingly manageable. There were photocopies of his massive hands — complete with those mythic fingers that, friends will tell you, required rings you could pass an egg through — wrestling boots long preserved and meticulous records of Andre’s uncommon size from his 71-inch chest down to his 26-inch calves.

His 7-foot-4 height? Most WWE fans know it better than their own social security number.

Andre passed away in 1993, but Atta and her staff had all things necessary to bring “The Eighth Wonder of the World” back to life. They made a cast of his actual boots; they made a mold of his hand imprint; they used photographs to capture his prominent brow, the thick curls of his hair and his oversized smile. Sculptures are often built to be oversized, exaggerated as to express the enormity of the person’s presence. With the giant, this was unnecessary. But how do you create a lifelike version of a man who was not lifelike?

“His proportions are grandiose, but they’re not absurd for a human being,” Atta said. “He’s kind of perfectly proportioned.” 

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