Tag Archive | Monumental

Simone Leigh’s Brick House On The High Line

Brick House By Simone Leigh
All Photos By Gail

The first time I laid eyes on Simone Leigh’s monumental Brick House sculpture I was on the bus heading uptown on 10th Avenue.

Simone Leigh Brick House from Distance

I looked up and there she was, gazing out over the oncoming traffic from her perch on the 30th Street overpass, which I am told is now known as The Plinth. A month or so passed before I was able to pay her a proper visit and find out what she is all about.

Brick House Taken From Street Level

Brick House By Simone Leigh

Brick House is a 16-foot-tall bronze bust of a Black woman with a torso that combines the forms of a skirt and a clay house. The sculpture’s head is crowned with an afro framed by cornrow braids, each ending in a cowrie shell. Brick House is the inaugural commission for the High Line Plinth, a new landmark destination for major public artworks in New York City.

Brick House By Simone Leigh
View of Brick House Looking East to 30th Street

This is the first monumental sculpture in Leigh’s Anatomy of Architecture series, an ongoing body of work in which the artist combines architectural forms, from regions as varied as West Africa and the Southern United States, with the human body. The sculpture’s title (which is familiar to most as the title to popular 1977-era song by The Commodores) comes from the term for a strong Black woman who stands with the strength, endurance, and integrity of a house made of bricks.

View of 10th Ave Looking South
View From The Plinth Looking South Down 10th Ave

Brick House references numerous architectural styles: Batammaliba architecture from Benin and Togo, the teleuk dwellings of the Mousgoum people of Cameroon and Chad, and the restaurant Mammy’s Cupboard in Natchez, Mississippi. The sculpture contrasts sharply against the landscape it inhabits, where glass-and-steel towers shoot up from among older industrial-era brick buildings, and where architectural and human scales are in constant negotiation. Resolutely facing down 10th Avenue, Leigh’s powerful Black female figure challenges us to consider the architecture around us, and how it reflects customs, values, priorities, and society as a whole.

Brick House By Simone Leigh

Leigh works across sculpture, video, installation, and social practice, stitching together references from different historical periods and distant geographical locations. As a sculptor, Leigh works predominantly in ceramics—a medium that she mastered early in her career—continually pushing the boundaries of her chosen material by working in new methods and larger scales. In her intersectional practice, Leigh focuses on how the body, society, and architecture inform and reveal one another. She examines the construction of Black female subjectivity, both through specific historical figures such as Josephine Baker and Katherine Dunham, and more generally through overlapping historical lineages across Europe, Africa, the US, and the Caribbean.

The High Line Plinth presents a series of art installations that rotate every eighteen months. Designed as the focal point of the Spur, the newest section of the park that opened in spring 2019, the Plinth is the first space on the High Line dedicated solely to new commissions of contemporary art.

Simone Leigh’s Brick House will be on View on The High Line Plinth (at the Spur), 30th St. and 10th Ave., NYC, Through September 2020.

Simoe Leigh Brick House from Distance

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Monumental Sculptures By Tony Cragg on The Park Avenue Malls

Runner By Tony Cragg
All Photos By Gail

It’s not always easy to keep up with all of the Public Art installed in and around Manhattan at any given time, but I stumbled on the piece above, a towering, abstract white and cream fiberglass structure entitled Runner (2017), by sculptor Tony Cragg, when I visited the Park Avenue Armory for Nick Cave’s The Let Go installion. Runner is right out front of the Armory at the corner of 67th Street. When I left the Armory, I snapped a few additional shots of Runner before heading back down town.

Runner (gebogen), 2017, Park Avenue at East 67th Street

Runner is one of five monumental, abstract sculptures by Cragg, which present an opportunity for a leisurely stroll over nearly 20 blocks on this almost suburban Manhattan thoroughfare. The commanding sculptures exemplify Cragg’s experimentation with a variety of materials include the aforementioned fiberglass, stainless steel and bronze.

Runner (gebogen), 2017, Park Avenue at East 67th Street

Runner with the Park Avenue Armory in the Background.

Runner (gebogen), 2017, Park Avenue at East 67th Street

Runner (gebogen), 2017, Park Avenue at East 67th Street
Runner, Detail

On the 4th of July, I decided to get some exercise and walk from 52nd to 79th Streets to check out the other four Cragg sculptures. Please enjoy my photos!

Mean Average, 2013, Park Avenue at East 52nd Street

Mean Average, at 52nd Street, is a weighty composition made of bronze.

Mean Average, 2013, Park Avenue at East 52nd Street

I tried to shoot each of the sculptures from a variety of angles.

Mean Average, 2013, Park Avenue at East 52nd Street

You can get such a different impression of the work, depending on your perspective.

Elliptical Column, 2012, Park Avenue at East 57th Street

Elliptical Column at 57th Street is a nearly 20-foot tall spire made of shiny, almost liquid-like stainless steel.

Elliptical Column, 2012, Park Avenue at East 57th Street

Elliptical Column, 2012, Park Avenue at East 57th Street

Hammerhead, 2017, Park Avenue at East 72nd Street

The same white and cream fiberglass used for Runner is also used for Hammerhead at  72nd Street, and the brightness allows the sculpture to really pop against the surrounding landscape.

Hammerhead, 2017, Park Avenue at East 72nd Street

Hammerhead, 2017, Park Avenue at East 72nd Street

Tommy, 2013, Park Avenue at East 79th Street

At 79th Street, the artist uses bronze again for Tommy, which has a blue-green patina. The vertical forms seemingly defy gravity while giving the impression of upward motion and kinetic energy, though they are static.

Tommy, 2013, Park Avenue at East 79th Street

This exhibition is presented in association with the Fund for Park Avenue  and Marian Goodman Gallery.

Tony Cragg’s Monumental Sculptures will be on Exhibit along Manhattan’s Park Avenue Malls at the intersections of 52nd Street, 57th Street, 67th Street, 72nd Street, and 79th Streets Through October 31st, 2018.

Yinka Shonibare MBE: Wind Sculpture (SG) I in Central Park

Yinka Shonibare MBE Wind Sculpture
All Photos By Gail

I went up to Central Park on a recent Sunday to check out the latest Public Art Fund-sponsored large scale sculpture, which is  Yinka Shonibare MBE’s Wind Sculpture (SG) I, installed on March 7th in the Doris C. Freedman Plaza. Unfortunately, and likely in an attempt to keep people from climbing on the monumental artwork, the park had grouped a number metal crowd barriers around the base of the sculpture on all sides, which seriously hindered my ability to get really great photos. Still, I did my best.

Yinka Shonibare MBE Wind Sculpture

One of Britain’s best- known contemporary artists, Yinka Shonibare (b 1962, London) spent his childhood between England and Nigeria. He settled permanently in London in the early 1980s, where he attended art school. Shonibare regards himself as a cultural hybrid, a product of complex and layered relationships forged by centuries of global trade, migration, politics, and cultural exchange. His work reflects these currents in ways that often playfully invite us to look beyond appearances and assumption about identity.

Yinka Shonibare MBE Wind Sculpture

Wind Sculpture (SG) I takes on the paradoxical task of manifesting the invisible. We can’t see the wind, but we do see its effects. Here, the dynamic movement of a piece of fabric in a gust of wind is rendered in solid fiberglass on monumental scale. Covered with an intricate pattern, the 23-foot-tall sculpture rises above the plaza, reminiscent of the untethered sail of a ship billowing in the breeze. Its unique, hand-painted pattern in turquoise, red, and orange — colors that the artist associates with his childhood on the beaches of Lagos  —  is inspired by Dutch wax batik print, which Shonibare has called the “perfect metaphor for multilayered identities.”

Yinka Shonibare MBE Wind Sculpture

Wind Sculpture is the first work in a second generation — thus (SG)1 — of his celebrated series and continues Shonibare’s ongoing examination of the construction of cultural identity through the lens of colonialism. The work creates an opportunity to reflect on social issues associated with our current moment, including the movement of people and ideas across borders and the role of monuments in heterogeneous societies.

Yinka Shonibare MBE Wind Sculpture

Yinka Shonibare MBE Wind Sculpture

This sculpture is unbelievably gorgeous and looks different from every angle. Next time I am in the area I will see if the eyesore barriers are gone, and if so I will add new photos to the post!

Yinka Shonibare’s Wind Sculpture (SG) I Will Be On View Through October 14th, 2018 at Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Located at the Southeast Entrance to Central Park (5th Avenue and 60th Street), NYC.

Yinka Shonibare MBE Wind Sculpture

AMNH Announces Redesign of Its Halls of Gems and Minerals with Unveiling of Monumental Amethyst Geode

Amethyst Geode Full
All Photos By Gail Except Where Indicated

If you’ve even been to the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH) here in Manhattan, you probably have a favorite wing or exhibit hall, because everybody does. Most people seem to favor the Dinosaurs, and while those halls are certainly worth visiting at least once, I think they are a little played out. And while I do enjoy the Hall of Ocean Life, which is mind-blowing, my very favorite part of the museum are the Halls of Gems and Minerals, and I will recommend and rave about them to anyone who will listen. So, it was a pretty big deal to me when I received news from the AMNH that they will undertake a complete redesign of these very popular exhibit halls, currently known as the Morgan Memorial Hall of Gems and Harry Frank Guggenheim Hall of Minerals, transforming the 11,000-square-foot space into a gleaming showcase for their world-renowned collection! Wow! Not only that, but they also invited me to attend a media briefing event at the museum to witness the “Unveiling of a dazzling 12-foot-tall, 5-ton new acquisition!” Very exciting!

Amethyst Geode Full

The new acquisitiion turned out to be a 9,000 pound Amethyst Geode mined in Uruguay, which will be on temporary view in the Museum’s Grand Gallery through the 2017 holiday season.  The geode, which will eventually be a centerpiece in the new halls, is among the largest amethyst geodes in the world. I heard someone from the museum say that the Geode was nicknamed Stan. I am not sure if they were kidding or serious, but it pleases me to think that this gigantic rock crystal, which happens to also be my birthstone, has a nickname, and to wonder how they came up with Stan.

Current Hall of Gems
Current Hall of Gems and Minerals (Photo Courtesy of the AMNH)

The renovation of the Halls of Gems and Minerals, which are being designed by Ralph Appelbaum Associates, is part of a series of physical and programmatic enhancements to historic parts of the institution, leading up to its 150th anniversary and the opening of the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, a major new facility that will house resources for education, exhibition, and research, and reveal modern science to visitors of all ages.

Here are a few renderings of how the new Halls will look (all renderings images are courtesy of the AMNH).

New Hall of Gems
New Hall of Gems Entrance with Crystal Specimen Embedded in the Wall

Mineral formation zones rendering
Mineral Formation Zones Rendering. You Can See “Stan” at the Rear of The Hall.

Gem Gallery Rendering
Gem Gallery Rendering

Museum President Ellen V. Futter offered trhe following statement, “Whether you’re talking about the spectacular 563-carat Star of India sapphire or the unique almandine (deep-violet-hued)  Subway Garnet unearthed in New York City in 1885, the American Museum of Natural History is known for having one of the most spectacular and comprehensive collections of gems and minerals in the world.” Manhattan-based philanthropist couple Allison and Roberto Mignone are providing funding for the renovation, and as such the new hall will be named Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals. The new halls will include many fun surprises, including  a fluorescence and phosphorescence gallery, featuring a massive panel of fluorescent rock from the Sterling Hill Mining Museum in Ogdensburg, New Jersey, that glows in shades of orange and green under ultraviolet light!

Amethyst Geode Detail
Amethyst Geode Details

Amethyst Geode Detail

Amethyst Geode Detail

While the Halls of Gems and Minerals previously formed a cul-de-sac, they will soon feature a dramatic link, via a stunning Crystalline Pass on the north side of the halls, to the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education, and Innovation, the new facility designed by Studio Gang Architects. Construction on the new Mignone Halls of Gems of Minerals has now begun, with the closure of the current halls on October 26th, 2017. The Mignone Halls of Gems and Minerals are expected to open in 2019, as part of the Museum’s 150th anniversary celebration.

Amethyst Geode
This Image of the Amethyst Geode Courtesy of the AMNH