I made my first appointment to get the Covid vaccine on the exact day that NY State opened eligibility for my age group, and was fully vaccinated by April. Being vaccinated allowed me to safely fly across the country to meet up with my sister (who is also vaccinated) for a mind-blowingly fun road trip across the state of Utah, which I will remember for the rest of my life. My time in Utah more than made up for hardly being able to leave my house of the better part a year. I feel that I owe not just my physical health, but the triumphant return of my mental health to the Covid vaccine. Thank god for medical science!
If you’ve already been fully vaccinated, thank you, and please congratulate yourself on doing your part to keep yourself and others safe as we attempt to beat this fucking virus, which as we can see is not backing down so easily.
On the Friday before Joe Biden’s electoral victory was officially announced, I had a late afternoon appointment near Madison Square Park. It was already twilight when I exited onto Fifth Avenue and 25th Street and I decided to walk home to take advantage of an unseasonably-warm evening and what I think of as the romantic atmosphere imparted by the newly-restored standard time. Darkness at night: what a concept. As I crossed Broadway I noticed a new piece of public art in the park which resembles the Statue of Liberty’s torch, entitled Light of Freedom. New York native Abigail Deville is the artist. I snapped a few photos and then continued on my way.
This past Saturday, I had the chance to check out Light of Freedom in the daylight, where it’s easier to see that the torch’s flame is comprised of disembodied mannequin arms; something which I find very appealing.
Let’s zoom-in for a closer look.
Here’s is an excerpt from Madison Square Park Conservancy’s statement on the piece:
Light of Freedom carries many cogent symbols. DeVille has filled a torch — referring to the Statue of Liberty’s hand holding a torch, which was on view in Madison Square Park from 1876 to 1882 — with a timeworn bell, a herald of freedom, and with the arms of mannequins, beseeching viewers. The scaffold, which prevents access physically and metaphorically, recalls a work site, an insistent image on the urban landscape. But the scaffold is golden, summoning the glory of labor and the luminosity in the struggle that can lead to change.Formative to Light of Freedom are the words of the abolitionist, author, and statesman Frederick Douglass, who proclaimed in an 1857 speech delivered in Canandaigua, New York: “If there is no struggle there is no progress.” The torch refers to the light of democracy and its foundation in ancient systems of government by citizens.
DeVille has described working on this piece: “In my research, I have found that the first Blacks to be brought to New York City were eleven Angolans in 1626. That makes people of African descent the second-oldest group of settlers in New Amsterdam, after the Dutch. Unfortunately, history has erased the contributions and victories of this group. I want to make something that could honor their lives and question what it means to be a New Yorker, past, present, and future.”
Light of Freedom will be on Exhibit in Madison Square Park Through January 31st, 2021, so see it while you can!
Louise Bourgeois‘ two hands engaged in an intimate caress sit incongruously on a roughly chiseled, seemingly unfinished base. In the early 1930s, Bourgeois studied with Charles Despiau, one of Auguste Rodin’s assistants; she may well have learned about Rodin’s marble sculptures of hands from Despiau. Later, in 1967-68, she traveled to Pietrasanta, Italy, where she discovered the same marble quarries from which Michelangelo sourced his material. It was at this point that Bourgeois adopted the medium. As the artist once said of the difficult task of working with marble,” you have to win the shape.” Her fight to conquer the block of marble is left visible here in this work from 1996.
Untitled (No. 2) was Photographed in The Met Breuer (former home of The Whitney Museum), in Manhattan, where it is part of the Museum’s Inaugural Exhibit, Unfinished: Thoughts Left Visible.
Installation View With Geoffrey! (All Photos By Gail)
Marianne Boesky Gallery is currently hosting The Drawing Room, an exhibition of new work by Belgian artist, Hans Op de Beeck who works across all media including large installation, sculpture, video, animation, photography, watercolor, drawing, text, and music. His work is a wide-ranging reflection on the tragicomic way in which humans stage and organize their lives, discussing how we deal with both space and time and with each other, and how we often lose the plot along the way. Implementing seemingly banal images, Op de Beeck touches on big, universal themes, frequently serving as a memento mori for the artist. He seeks to find a balance between seriousness and a sense of perspective, between banality and the extraordinary.
Cityscape (The Road), 2015
In 2009, Op de Beeck first showed a collection of large watercolors in his solo exhibition In Silent Conversation with Correggio at the Galleria Borghese in Rome, Italy. Since then, Op de Beeck has worked steadily on what is now an enormous series of black-and-white watercolors of fictitious places, landscapes, characters, and objects. Within these works, free association gives rise to images suffused with a sense of melancholy, and between the lines collective themes and emotions are conveyed.
In The Drawing Room, Op de Beeck reveals a new series of watercolors in which postmodern landscapes sit side by side with more universal, anonymous images. The artist painted these watercolors during the night, after all of the machines in his studio were switched off, the phones stopped ringing, and his staff had left, sometimes taking until dawn to complete the work at hand.
Night Time Film
Op de Beeck utilized the watercolors he has produced over the last six years to create his latest animation on view, Night Time (extended). The film takes the viewer on a silent, enigmatic journey through invented, nocturnal settings that are sometimes populated with unknown figures. The images are primarily timeless in nature, but often show contemporary cultural and subcultural references as well. Many of the frames have a cinematic feel, attributed to ‘establishing shots,’ grand panoramic views, and ‘close-ups’ of bodies and props.
Vanitas (Variation) 2, 2015
The film and watercolors are complemented in The Drawing Room by two sculpture series. The first, Vanitas Variation, consists of wall sculptures made from solid grey plaster. These monochromatic works combine conventional objects from the still-life genre – candlesticks, glasses, and open books—with more contemporary objects such as soda cups, cell phones, spray cans, and cigarette butts.
Gesture (Cherishing), 2015
The second series, Gesture, shows life-size arms (the artist’s) performing simple actions: a hand offering a few blackberries, two hands holding something fragile, a hand calmly writing. The unspectacular gestures bring poetry and solace into daily ritual, and the fossilized scenes from both sculpture series form just another part of Op de Beeck’s mute, somnolent, and nocturnal universe.
The Drawing Room, an exhibition of new work by Hans Op de Beeck, will be on Exhibit Through May 2nd, 2015 at Marianne Boesky Gallery, Located at 509 West 24th Street, in the Chelsea Gallery District.