I went walking on the High Line today and saw this fantastic modern abstract sculpture, which is just adjacent to the park, having been installed on the patio of a luxury rental complex known as Ten23, located between 22nd & 23rd Street on Tenth Avenue. The 20-foot high sculpture is called Urban Rattle, and it’s by American artist Charlie Hewitt.
This Soundsuit (2008), embellished with fake flowers and leaves, transforms the human body into an ornate still life. Nick Cave took a traditional genre of painting and reshaped it into a contemporary sculpture with the potential to come to life. Cave has been fabricating these sculptures since the early 1990s.
Made to be worn, each Soundsuit allows the wearer to try on a new identity. The suit draws on various cultural and religious rituals ranging from ceremonial African dances to Christian services, masking the identities of the wearers and making them assume the persona of the costume.
On a recent, beautiful sunny Sunday, Geoffrey and I took a day trip on the Hudson River line via Metro North to Beacon, New York — about 90 minutes outside the city — to visit the Dia: Beacon Art Museum. This is one of the most fun things you can do to escape from Manhattan on a weekend day and you don’t even need a car! The Beacon train station is a 10 minute walk to the museum and they have signs pointing the way, so it is completely idiot proof. You can even buy your museum admission at Grand Central Station in what they call the Dia: Beacon Package, which includes round trip train fare and museum entry for $36.50 — what a bargain! I will be featuring more photos from our trip to the Dia: Beacon in future posts, but today I want to show you this crazy kinetic neon sculpture by Bruce Nauman called Hanged Man.
Located in a lower level gallery dedicated exclusively the works by Bruce Nauman, Hanged Man (1985) is made up of a series of layered, multi-colored neon tubes that light up at sequenced intervals to simulate a game of Hang Man.
As the game nears completion, a second figure appears. You can see why this piece may be a bit controversial, or not safe for small kids who might has a lot of questions.
Because that’s a big pink boner, right there.
For his mixed media assemblage, Koh-i-Noor (2005) Hew Locke (Scottish, born 1959) arranged thousands of cheap plastic toys and trinkets — disposable products of the new global economy — into one edition of a series of portraits of Queen Elizabeth II (entitled the House of Windsor Series), one of which was among the most extraordinary works in the Museum’s exhibition, Infinite Island: Contemporary Caribbean Art (2007). Locke, born in Scotland but raised in Guyana, created these works in response to ethnic tensions within contemporary British society, often growing out of Great Britain’s colonial history, with that history now brought home to Britain.
The title of this Silver work from the portrait series refers to the Koh-i-Noor (“Mountain of Light”) diamond, once the largest in the world. Mined several thousand years ago, this uncut Indian treasure passed through the hands of many regional rulers and was likely cut during the seventeenth century, before ultimately being seized by Britain in 1849 in the name of Queen Victoria. The series also includes a Golden sculpture entitled El Dorado, and a Black edition entitled Black Queen.
To make Cost of Living (2014) and other works in this series, Josh Kline interviewed workers – janitorial staff and package delivers – and then made casts of their body parts that they used to complete their daily tasks. In this case, he spoke with the housekeeper named Aleyda, who worked at the Rivington Hotel.
The artist created each element of the sculptural assemblage using a 3-D printer. The results call attention to the laboring bodies of an often invisible work force, and offer a grim reminder that these workers’ humanity is often valued less than the tools they use to complete their job. Cost of Living (Aleyda) reflects what the artist has described as “the relentless push to squeeze more productivity out of workers – turning people into reliable, always–on office appliances.”
Photographed in the Whitney Museum of American Art in Manhattan.
The Birth Machine Baby sculpture pictured above was photographed by me in the Last Rites Gallery in Manhattan, which has a number original HR Giger pieces on display. Giger, who passed away in 2014 at the age of 74, is perhaps best known in popular culture as the designer of the Alien creatures in the film franchise of the same name, or, if you are a bit older, the designer of the cover of Emerson, Lake and Palmer’s 1973 epic prog rock masterpiece, Brain Salad Surgery. But his career was about so much more than that.
The limited edition Bullet Baby sculptures (30 in Bronze, 30 in Aluminum) sit inside the shell of a 9mm Luger Casing: the bottom surface of the sculpture is finished to look like a real bullet and is marked ‘9mm Giger,’ along with the artist signature and the edition number.
The inspiration for the Bullet Babies is the 1967, pen and ink Giger artwork, Birth Machine, a cut-away image of a fully loaded Walther pistol, in which the bullets are these crouching mechanical-looking babies.
Birth Machine, 1967 (Image Source)
The Birth Machine is HR Giger’s artistic manifestation of his strongly held belief that the greatest threat to our civilization is the approaching overpopulation of the planet. Conceived nearly 40 years ago, the Birth Machine Babies have made appearances in a number of Giger paintings. A Birth Machine Baby – as well as a sculptural representation of the Birth Machine painting – stands guard in front of the HR Giger Museum in Gruyères, Switzerland.
You can be sure that we all did a double-take when we passed this statue at The Met this past weekend, because, seriously, doesn’t it look like she’s checking her Instagram feed or catching up on Tweets? That’s what we thought as well, but if you are standing nearby and look really closely, you can see she has a small Crucifix nestled in her palm, which makes much more sense considering the name of this piece is Indian Girl, or The Dawn of Christianity, rather than something like Girl, Distracted by iPhone, Forgets to Put on a Top.
Created by Erastus Dow Palmer in 1856, this sculpture marked the artist’s first attempt to model a full-length, female figure. He did a pretty great job, don’t you think?