My best friend Geoffrey is visiting me from LA, and we have been rampaging through NYC like crazy art fans since he touched down last Wednesday evening. Here we are on the roof deck of Deutsche Bank Center at Columbus Circle. The Word is Our Oyster.
Gilded monuments and bronze statues evoke the public art of a bygone era, though we’ve recently been reminded of the potent symbolic value they still hold. Artist Gillian Wearing (b. 1963, Birmingham, England) has been fascinated by these sculptures since childhood. For her, there’s something uncanny about a human form that appears immovable and changeless in a public setting. Wearing has alwasy made art about people, usually presented in unexpected ways, in photography, video, and more recently, sculpture.
It seems like it’s been years (but probably just one) since NYC had a snowfall like this! I found this photo of me with my friend Jana while cleaning out my office a couple of years ago, and made this crappy scan, which I shared on Instagram this past week. The photo was taken in Central Park sometime during the February 2005 run of the public art installation The Gates by French land artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude, who have sadly now both passed on. Their art, however, lives forever.
Best known for his later work as a sculptor, William Zorach spent two years studying painting in Paris, returning to New York in 1912. He wrote that his depictions of NYC’s most famous park in Spring in Central Park (1914) were “painted at home from the imagination . . . in all wild colors, peopled with exotic nudes,“ but the bold hues in undulating outlines recall the work of the Fauves, notably Henri Matisse and Andre Derain, whose canvases he had seen in Paris. With his wife, Marguerite, an avant-garde painter herself, Zorach associated with many of America’s earliest Modernists in New York in the late 1910s, including Max Weber, Marsden Hartley, and John Maren. In 1913 both Zorachs exhibited at the prestigious international exhibition of modern art,known as the Armory Show.
Photographed in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NYC.
Mark Manders’ Tilted Head is a work of fiction. It has the appearance of unfired clay combined with everyday objects but in fact is made entirely of cast bronze. The cracks and fissures that cover its surface imply an organic process of drying and decay, yet its metal form is fixed.
It might suggest an incomplete model, abandoned in the artist’s studio, if not for the fact that its colossal size and civic location lend it the air of a grand monument. Eyes shut, the androgynous figure’s mask-like features are at rest, undisturbed by an abrupt slice through a third of its face. The unfinished side of the head is held as if in a splint by wooden planks, one tied with rope.
At the back, chairs and a suitcase, all slightly reduced in size, protrude from a mass of formless material. These shifts in scale, unexplained objects, and trompe l’oeil bronze effects alter our perception and spark the imagination.
Back of Sculpture, Detail
Mark Manders (b. 1968, The Netherlands) has been interested in the human figure throughout his career, and is particularly fascinated with the head, which he sometimes depicts detached from the body and juxtaposed with different elements. These heads are always stylized representations rather than individualized portraits.
His approach creates a paradoxical sense of both immediacy and timelessness, of something newly made with fresh clay yet belonging to the traditions of classical statuary. With Tilted Head, Manders has rendered a compelling fiction of human form that inhabits a poetic space between representation and abstraction, serenity and rupture, life and mortality.
Mark Manders’ Tilted Head is Curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. It Will be on Display at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Fifth Avenue and 60th Street, Adjacent to Central Park, Through September 1st, 2019.
Update: I was near the Park over the Memorial Day weekend and got this new shot of the sculpture with Summer’s lush greenery in the background!