Zuccotti Park in the Financial District is perhaps most famous for being ground zero for the Occupy Wall Street movement, but it’s also home to several pieces of monumental public art. For example, behold this bright red, 70-foot-high painted steel installation by sculptor Mark di Suvero, entitled Joie de Vivre (Joy of Life), which went up at the corner of Broadway and Cedar Street in June 2006. The sculpture is comprised of “open-ended tetrahedrons” as described by di Suvero, and was formerly located at the Holland Tunnel rotary.
Brooklyn-based artist John Mosler’s first large-scale outdoor sculpture, Decusatio – meaning Intersection in Latin – is now installed on the terrace at Norwood, the historic townhouse and private members club at 241 West 14th Street. The figurative work was informed by its 14th Street location which, for many, has come to serve as a delineation point between uptown and downtown.
Placed on the balcony, Decusatio is hard to miss; rising over eight feet tall, and painted in a vibrant yellow hue. The work offers a conceptual framework that is intended to respect and enhance the Club and its history, while simultaneously connecting to the location, activity and history in the surrounding area.
Decusatio’s placement required innovative technical and engineering applications by the artist to ensure it was light enough to be easily placed on a metal balcony, while also durable enough to withstand the outdoor elements. Mosler offers, “The figurative over tone and the bright yellow color is intended to capture the intersection of humanity and the vibrant human interaction in the surrounding physical environment.”
Martin Kesselman, color influencer and owner of INCOLOUR, worked with Mosler on finding the right hue. “Yellow tends to be perceived in many different ways, more so than other colors,” he explains. “We wanted to stay clear of a frosty cast, one that may veer green. Natural exterior light can play some trickery, so we had to walk that warm and cool fine line.”
The Andrew Norwood House is an elegant urban residence designed in a transitional style which combines Greek revival and italianate features. A remarkably preserved slice of early Victorian architecture and lifestyle – both inside and out; the House is listed on both the National Register of Historic Places and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission.In 2007 Alan Linn opened Norwood Club, a bustling five-story club with more than 1,100 members ranging from 21 to 80 years old. Its ranks include architects, artists, fashion designers, musicians, media moguls, and art collectors.
Jeff Koons’ Woman in Tub (1988) combines a cartoon-like rendering of a nude woman startled by a submerged snorkeler with the exquisite, hard-paste porcelain finish of typical 18th-century Rococo figurines. Part of Koons‘ Banality series, which is characterized by oddly eroticized, comic and kitsch images, this work takes personal taste — good and bad — as its primary subject.
Koons has explained the work’s biographical origin:
When I was a kid, my grandparents had an ashtray on a table in their television room. It was a small porcelain of a girl in a bathtub. It was white, with pink and blue details, and the legs went back and forth. As a kid, I was mesmerized. My Woman in Tub comes from that, though it references [the toiletry scenes painted by] Manet and Degas. I had such as experience of awe looking at that object.
Photographed in The Art Institute, Chicago.
OK, so what exactly are we looking at here? What initially appears as a fairly standard-issue Virgin Mary desktop statue is revealed, on closer inspection, to be a mash up of the holy mother and a Malibu Barbie (check out the sunglasses propped casually on her head, for your first clue).
The statue, by UK-based artist Heath Kane, is based on a print entitled In Brands We Trust, originally created in June of 2016 in association with Jealous Gallery of London. The idea for the print was to create a mock idol by galvanizing a Malibu Barbie figure with the Virgin Mary.
Says Kane: In Brands We Trust is designed to look on the surface like a classic piece of pop art – juxtaposing Barbie’s face with an image of the Virgin Mary. But the light facade masks a deeper question about consumerism. Whereas Pop Art fetishized consumerism, In Brands We Trust challenges it. In March 2016 two people were shot and seriously injured in America when Nike released a new version of its Air Jordan 2 Retro shoes. In Brands We Trust ponders the question ‘have brands become our new religion?’ And if so are they encouraging division and extremism? Brands have such a profound impact on our daily lives it’s raises the question if religious faith can compete.
Spotted at The Other Art Fair in Brooklyn, NY.
Randall Harrington’s Gun Magnet is but one example of the sculptor and painter’s statement work. Known for his high-concept fabrications of recomposed weaponry, Toastasaurus herds and eerily human robots, the Los Angeles-based artist found his niche in metal and mixed media after years of assisting big-name installation and performance artists working in film-set design. The Gun Magnet wool tapestry (2019, above) was inspired by the bronze sculpture (2014), seen below.
Photographed as Part of Beyond The Streets in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
At first (or even second) glance, this colorful, towering sculpture comprised of jumbled letters and numbers may appear very random and indecipherable. Take a look at it from the correct angle, however, and it clearly spells out the frequency and call letters of radio station 95.1 WBEZ FM, in Chicago, which is an NPR station. Created by artist John Adduci, who is Chicago native, the sculpture has been around since 1996 and it changes location in and around Navy Pier at random intervals.
The High Line always seems to have new public art installed along its mile-plus length of green space, and Five Conversations by Tanzanian-born artist Lubaina Himid, although it has been up since April, was new to me as I walked south along the path on my way to the Whitney Museum one sweltering Sunday afternoon.
For Five Conversations, Himid introduces five wooden doors reclaimed from traditional Georgian townhouses, painted with life-size portraits, cut into silhouettes, that stand freely as flat sculptures. The portraits depict everyday, stylish women who love talking to each other!
These works have a theatrical quality, referencing stage sets and the simplified histories that dominate our world. In her signature way, Himid brings the two-dimensional medium of painting into our three-dimensional world.
Part of the En Plein Air, a Group Exhibit that Examines and Expands the Tradition of Outdoor Painting, On View Through March 2020.
The first time I laid eyes on Simone Leigh’s monumental Brick House sculpture I was on the bus heading uptown on 10th Avenue.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Having been employed as a department store janitor during his freshman year of college, Charles Ray (b. 1953) understands the unease that a mannequin — an inanimate object that one might readily mistake for a live human — can inspire. Ray’s work is also charged with purely sculptural tensions that exist between surface and interior, armature and appendage and / or size and scale. With Boy (1992), Ray created a particularly disquieting figure.
The sculpture stands just shy of six feet tall, the artist’s exact height, yet maintains the softness of youth in its rounded cheeks and limbs. The boy is clad in outdated garments, hovering ‘between baby and Hitler youth,” in the words of one critic. Additionally, the boy’s pose and gesture suggest a confrontational manner at odds with his neutral expression.
Photographed at the Art Institute of Chicago.
On a very rainy Sunday in NYC, the ideal indoor activity turned out be a ferry ride over to Randall’s Island for the Frieze Art Fair! Because what’s a little mud on your shoes compared to the joy of browsing for hours through thousands of prohibitively expensive artworks?
Looking back through the digital archives, it appears that my previously most recent Frieze recap dates all the way back to 2015 — wow — for reasons that take too long to talk about. One thing that is abundantly clear though is that my skills as a photographer have improved greatly in the last four years! Let’s take look around this year’s Frieze Art Fair and check out a selection of my favorite art!
Carlotta (2017) is monumental 3D-effect stiles steel sculpture by Juame Pensa, found at Richard Grey Gallery. That’s an Alex Katz abstract painting at the left.
It didn’t take me long get distract by shiny things, because I neglected to note the artist of this installation of Colored Spherical Shaped Mirrors, which is just fantastic.
It might look like a weed has sprouted up though a crack in the wall at the booth for the Marlborough Gallery, but that weed is actually a metal sculpture. Clever!
Quartz Eroded Newspaper Machine (2019) by Daniel Arsham.
Here’s the view of another side: Coffee Cup included! Spotted at Perrotin Gallery.
Two colorful, feathered bears wrestle playfully in this sculpture by Paola Pivi entitled You Drive Me Crazy, also at Perrotin Gallery.
You know how it is when you have to wait so long for all of the people to clear out of the shot that your forget to make note of what you were photographing? This is one of those times.
Mermaid Sculptures by Olivia Erlanger at And Now Gallery sell for $8,000 each!
Alyson Shotz created this iridescent suspended soft sculpture made from interlinked, dichroic-dyed aluminum discs, found at Derek Eller Gallery. Check out two detail views of this work, below.
Surface of Discs. Exterior.
Surface of Discs, Interior.
Here’s a unique blown-glass work by Gabriele Beveridge called True Bone. It’s so lovely I am compelled to offer a side view from which you can see how the glass ‘weeps’ over the chromed Steele frame, or bone.
Men Who Cannot Cry (2018) Neon Sculpture by Alfredo Jaar.
Mark Thomas Gibson, The Snowman (2018) at Fredericks and Freiser.
This neon sign switched up its timely message by having the “ed” in “Empowered” flicker off and on. Nice.
This reflective wall sculpture made from the lenses of sunglasses was also spotted at the both for at The Modern Institute / Toby Webster Ltd.
Colorful Acrylic Sculptures By Marta Chilindron (Above and Below).
Now here’s a modern sculpture that has everything! Max Hooper Schneider’s Shiatsu takes a custom acyclic vitrine — that an observer might easily mistake for an ordinary household aquarium — and creates a surreal habitat filled with hand tools scattered among the lush terrarium plant life and accented with a vintage neon sign! Let’s take a closer look.
Spectacular! Hooper Schneider’s work is represented by Maureen Paley Gallery of London.
Avid readers of The ‘Gig might recognize this freeform abstract sculpture as the work of sculptor Tony Cragg from This Post, though the one above, entitled Gate (2017) is of a much, much smaller scale!
Look Up: It’s one of Nick Cave’s Sound Suits!
Raked Leaves (Apparition) (2019) by Patrick Jacobs is a tiny diorama that was embedded into the wall of the booth for Pierogi Gallery of New York.
Check out this fabulous silk flower and bead-embellished hoodie sculpture, February (2018) by Devan Shimoyama. I would wear it.
Well that about wraps up this year’s Frieze coverage. If you dig the photos in this post please share the love and share the link on your social media! Art!