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Thread: Sculpture on the Streets of Manhattan

  1. #61

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    An Artist’s Vision: Building With Toys, but on a Grand Scale

    By RANDY KENNEDY
    Published: June 8, 2008

    In the early 1970s, the artist Chris Burden pioneered a kind of sculpture that explored boundaries few people would care even to approach. The basic material was his body, and the work involved what he or others could do with it or to it.

    Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
    A worker assembling the tower, which will be officially unveiled on Wednesday.

    Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times
    A protective cage around an Erector Set skyscraper at Rockefeller Plaza was removed Saturday.

    The most infamous pieces, “Shoot” and “Trans-fixed,” were accurately titled. In one, a friend shot Mr. Burden in the left arm with a .22-caliber long rifle; in the other, he had his hands nailed to the roof of a Volkswagen bug.

    Sitting at a sunny lunch table near Rockefeller Center recently, Mr. Burden, now 62 and seemingly no worse for the wear, reached into a briefcase and pulled out a piece of raw material for a new work that seemed almost as pliant as a human body. It was part of a thin Erector Set truss, actually a stainless steel replica of one from the original version, which was patented by an architecture-loving toymaker named A. C. Gilbert in 1912.

    “Look how flimsy it is,” said Mr. Burden, flexing the piece easily between his hands. “It really is just a toy.”

    But not far from him, partly shrouded on the trailer of a red Peterbilt truck, sat a sculpture made of hundreds of thousands of such pieces, painstakingly screwed together into a sturdy, almost crystalline creation. In essence, he had transformed a toy inspired by Manhattan buildings into a toy building approaching the size of some real buildings in Manhattan.

    The work, called “What My Dad Gave Me” — a 65-foot Erector Set skyscraper, assembled over the last year by Mr. Burden and a team of assistants near Los Angeles — was hoisted into place early Saturday. It will officially open Wednesday as part of Rockefeller Center’s program of monumental outdoor exhibitions presented by the Public Art Fund and Tishman Speyer, which controls the center.

    In work he has made over the last 25 years, Mr. Burden has been fascinated with feats of engineering as the means by which people try to defy their physical environment, ignoring obstacles like gravity and distance, weight and water. He has built several elaborate, scaled-down bridges using Erector Set and Meccano toy construction parts, including a 28-foot version of the steel-arch Hell Gate Bridge over the East River. (In an article last year, Peter Schjeldahl, an art critic for The New Yorker, described him admiringly as “a boyish gimcracker diverting us by diverting himself.”)

    But Mr. Burden said his obsession with such models sprang from some serious thinking over many years about the nature of toys. “They’re the tools we use to inculcate children into how to be adults, how to live in the world,” he said. “But because they’re for children, there is this potential in them that’s never realized.”

    He gestured back toward the toy skyscraper, which lay on its side on the truck bed in Rockefeller Plaza as two assistants, Joel Searles and Tim Rogenberg, used screwdrivers to attach its spire. “I mean, children could have made that, theoretically, but they would never have enough time or parts,” he said.

    As early as 1991, Mr. Burden had begun thinking about making a tower-size toy (one drawing from that year shows something he called “Small Skyscraper, Quasi Legal, LA County” that was never realized). So when Rochelle Steiner, the director of the Public Art Fund, approached him in 2006 in a general way about whether he was interested in making a project for Rockefeller Center — where his father, an engineer, had once worked — his answer was not general at all.

    “He said, ‘Absolutely, and I know exactly what I want to do,’ ” she recalled.

    Though he has developed a fairly keen intuitive sense about the amount of weight that Erector Set pieces can bear, Mr. Burden said he had not settled on a height for the toy tower until he visited Rockefeller Center and reminded himself of its scale. “And I said, ‘Holy cow, this can’t be a 25-footer,’ ” he said. “It has to be really big.”

    He said he felt confident that he could have built to well over 100 feet, or more than 10 stories. But he decided to stop at 65 feet when engineers became involved and wind and stress tests were conducted to ensure that 16,000 pounds of nickel-finished stainless steel would not rain down on Fifth Avenue or a clutch of French tourists. (Asked whether a 100-plus-foot tower would have been safe, Mr. Burden said, smiling: “I think it would have been. But failure is very interesting, too.”)

    The tower was built in sections at Mr. Burden’s studio in Topanga Canyon, and then pieces of it — including the largest one, the base, which had to be lifted out by helicopter — were taken to Los Angeles to be assembled.

    Ms. Steiner, who saw the piece upright during tests before its cross-country truck journey, said she loved it particularly because of the ways it pits the mind and the eye against each other.

    “The fact that it is both a model and the height of a real building is bizarre,” she said. “It is simultaneously right and wrong from a traditional building perspective. And so it starts to play tricks on you.”

    Mr. Burden, who describes the tower as a poetic interpretation of Rockefeller Center, said he also saw it as saying something about the ambitions of America, which he has always viewed in a slightly idealized way after growing up mostly in France and Italy. “I see it as optimistic and positive, though it feels corny to say those things,” he said.

    The Erector Set and the skyscrapers that inspired it are emblems of the kind of confidence the country had at the turn of the 20th century, he said. “I think we could get it back,” he added. “I don’t think it’s impossible.”

    In person, Mr. Burden — a barrel-chested man still built like the wrestler he was in high school — is personable and funny, making it slightly difficult to imagine him performing the confrontational and at times horrific pieces of his youth.

    He said he saw his engineering pieces as part of the same tradition. “These are structures that are performing themselves in their forms,” he said. But by 1975 he had turned away from body-based performance, in part because of the kind of attention it was attracting.

    “It became very misunderstood,” he said. “I wasn’t doing it to be some kind of stuntman.” (He said he bore no physical infirmities from those years; one of his worst injuries came only a few years ago when he wrestled a coyote to the ground after it latched onto his dog. The coyote then latched onto his left hand and almost tore off part of a finger.)

    As Mr. Burden finished lunch and headed back to his tower, he said he was relieved that the piece made it across the country unscathed. “It required intense concentration to put together — it’s really easy to make a mistake, and when you do, you have to take apart what you’ve done and start over,” he said. “It might look like child’s play, but it’s anything but.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/08/ny...1&ref=nyregion

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  2. #62
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Artist Chris Burden (b. 1946; Boston, MA) has had quite an evolution ...



    At Rockefeller Center
    Presented by Public Art Fund
    Hosted by Tishman Speyer
    June 11 – July 19, 2008


    "I have always wanted to build a model skyscraper using Erector parts.
    The model skyscraper, built from a toy and 65 feet in height, takes
    on the dimensions of a full sized building. The circle of actual buildings
    inspiring a toy in 1909, which is then used to build a model skyscraper
    the size of an actual building in 2008, is a beautiful metamorphosis."

    —Chris Burden
    This summer, internationally renowned artist Chris Burden will exhibit a new sculpture at Rockefeller Center in New York — WHAT MY DAD GAVE ME, a dramatic, 65-foot-tall skyscraper made entirely of toy construction parts. Standing more than six stories tall at the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Channel Gardens, WHAT MY DAD GAVE ME will pay homage to the historic skyscrapers that populate New York and give the city its iconic architectural presence. WHAT MY DAD GAVE ME will be on view, free and open to the public, from June through July 2008. The exhibition is presented by the Public Art Fund and hosted by Tishman Speyer, co-owners of Rockefeller Center.

    WHAT MY DAD GAVE ME will be by far the most complex artwork that Chris Burden has ever made, comprised of approximately one million stainless steel parts that are replicas of Erector set pieces, the popular 20th-century children's building toy. Over the past decade, the artist has been using these specially stamped stainless steel metal parts based precisely upon those of the original Erector set to create complex and elegant sculptures of bridges. Intricately engineered to support and bear enormous weight, Burden's colossal toy constructions showcase the versatility, simplicity, and strength of their unassuming parts, combining technical sophistication with a child-like enthusiasm: building for building's sake.

    In 1912, an inventor named A.C. Gilbert created the first Erector set, inspired by the steel framework of skyscrapers that he saw under construction in New York City, then at the height of a building boom. The Erector Mysto Type I — the first set Gilbert made — was a collection of small metal girders, which could be assembled with miniature nuts and bolts. Burden's fascination with this original — and now rare — building kit led him to create his own replica parts, fashioned in stainless steel and electro-plated to produce a polished nickel finish in order to make them weather — and rust — resistant.

    Despite being constructed with toys, WHAT MY DAD GAVE ME will take on the dimensions of a full-scale building. Burden anticipates that its construction will require approximately one million parts total, and that the sculpture will weigh over seven tons when complete. Models and collectibles have long been important in Burden's work, reflecting his fascination with humankind's industrial ingenuity and creativity, investigating relationships between power and technology, nature and society, and enlightenment and destruction.

    About the Artist

    Chris Burden was born in 1946 in Boston, and currently lives and works in Los Angeles. He attended Pomona College, Claremont, California (BA, 1969) and University of California, Irvine (MA, 1971). In addition to his sculptures and installations, Burden is well-known for his live endurance works of the early 1970s, including Shoot (1971), the legendary performance in which he had a friend shoot him in the arm, and Five Day Locker Piece (1971), where he spent five days and nights in a school locker. In the late 1970s and 1980s, Burden moved away from body works to create a series of monumental kinetic sculptures involving engines and hydraulics, reflecting a fascination with engineering, invention, and technology that continues to influence his work today. Recently, Burden permanently installed 202 vintage streetlights outside the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in a piece titled, Urban Light (2008) to inaugurate its new Broad Contemporary Art Museum (BCAM).

    Burden has held recent solo exhibitions at South London Gallery (2006); Gagosian Gallery, New York and Beverly Hills (2007 and 2004); BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Gateshead, England (2002); Museum Moderner Kunst Stiftung Ludwig, Vienna (2002); Gagosian Gallery, London (2002); Orange County Museum of Art, Newport Beach, California (2000); and Tate Gallery, London (1999).

    Sponsorship

    Organized by Public Art Fund and Hosted by Tishman Speyer. Public Art Fund and Tishman Speyer would like to thank Gagosian Gallery, Beverly Hills.

    Location

    Chris Burden's WHAT MY DAD GAVE ME will be exhibited at Fifth Avenue between 49th and 50th Streets, at the end of Rockefeller Center's Channel Gardens.

    Other Public Art Fund projects at Rockefeller Center: Anish Kapoor and Jonathan Borofsky.

    ***

    Chris Burden

    12ozprophet.com

    Chris Burden is an artist living and working in LA, California. He pioneered (championed?) performance art during the 70’s in LA. He took things to extremes using his body as the art object.

    He had himself shot for one unforgettable piece, called “shoot”. Pictured here.

    He crawled chest first through broken glass on TV for a 20 second commercial spot he bought. He shot a pistol at a 747 in flight.

    All this and more, way before “Jackass”. Not that Jackass is on the art tip, but their extremist approach and use/abuse of their bodies as an object to make comedy is similar to Burden’s approach to making art.

    Really dope shit if you take time to look at his work.

    "SHOOT"





    “747”



    He’s also created a lot of really interesting and influential sculpture. Maybe I’ll post some later.

    Check him out on the all knowing internet or check out his recently released book, appropriately named “Chris Burden” ...

    ***



    ***





    ... Here, as in many of the early performances, Burden takes back the power over his own body by willfully assigning it to someone else.

    The viewer also becomes a witness, as in Dead Man in 1972, where Burden covered himself with a tarp lying in the road flanked by two flares. The flares would eventually burn out increasing the risk of the artist being run over by a car. In Trans-Fixed, 1974, the two nails that were used to crucify the artist to a Volkswagen car are preserved as a relic. The Volkswagen was chosen because it was the car of the “people” and Burden wanted his crucifixion to liberate not just himself but everyone. In experiencing this type of pain and vulnerability firsthand, Burden is able to make it more familiar and, in turn, he demystifies the horror of such acts by making them knowable, both for himself and for the audience. As a result, the collective fears that society uses to keep people in order are exposed and the idea that the human body is governed by law is rendered impotent.

    Burden said that his work is the “acting out of an idea, the materialization of the idea”. The performances demonstrate this in their unencumbered actions that vehemently avoid any move towards symbolism.
    ***

    TITLE: Beehive Bunker

    ARTIST: Chris Burden

    WORK DATE: 2006



    CATEGORY: Installations
    MATERIALS: Sacks of concrete
    SIZE: Height: 285 cm
    Diameter: 305 cm
    REGION: American
    STYLE: Contemporary (ca. 1945-present)
    PRICE*: Contact Gallery for Price

    Chris Burden with Beehive Bunker, 2006, at his home in Topanga Canyon.



    ***

    Structural Integrity

    Chris Burden has gone from the bad boy who got shot for his art
    to an enlightened engineer with nothing left to prove.

    Men's Vogue
    By Eric Banks
    June 2008

    Related: Video of Burden's Shoot and other performance art


    Photo: Jonas Karlsson
    Chris Burden tends to Metropolis II, a wildly kinetic sculpture involving 1,200 Hot Wheels
    at his studio in Topanga, CA.

    Chris Burden is leading me up the muddy path to the summit behind his studio. I'd spied an odd-looking sculpture at the top of the hill and asked him what the hell it was. It looked to be nothing less than a medieval Genoese watchtower. As we huff and puff, I begin to feel guilty for dragging him along to get a closer look, and fear that at any moment he and his roly-poly frame will begin a slick and dangerous descent.

    The piece turns out to be an actual bunker, made of layered bags of cement left out in the rain. Burden gives me a boost to scale its slippery surface — it's been pouring for days in not-so-sunny California — so I can have a look at the manhole cover he incorporated as its roof. When lowered, it offers absolute protection from marauders or, for that matter, from the coyotes you can hear off in the hills ...

    Burden never had children, but with What My Dad Gave Me, the installation that debuts this month in front of Manhattan's Rockefeller Center, his serious pursuit of kid stuff comes full circle. A 65-foot-tall "skyscraper" (it's really more the structural skeleton of one), the work is a demonstration of engineering might. It's built entirely out of Erector Set parts — specifically, the Mysto Erector Number 1, the inaugural one put out by inventor A. C. Gilbert in 1913 — and, once you count the nuts and bolts, contains a million components. Burden created replica parts from the originals and assembled the sculpture in three sections in his studio. So hulking are the resulting segments they had to be airlifted by helicopter out of the canyon in a West Coast version of the Jesus-flying-over-Rome scene in Fellini's La Dolce Vita, to be put together elsewhere in Los Angeles.

    "To get it here, we'll have to close down Fifth Avenue," says Rochelle Steiner, director of New York's Public Art Fund, which is presenting the work. "One of the things I love and respect about Chris is that he's really hands-on — the sheer putting-together of a work of almost a million pieces. But it's also the hands-on mental thinking that goes into it. It's not like, 'I have an idea, can you figure out how to make it stand up?'"

    Burden shows off the diamond-shaped patterns on one of his Erector Set pieces and points out their resemblance to those on the Turkish rugs draping the railing around the second floor of his hangar-like studio. "People were doing engineering long before it had a name," he says. "I mean, 'How do you build a castle?' 'Ask my grandfather, he knows how to build a castle.' How did a lot of this shit get built?" For him, the engineering impulse that lies behind What My Dad Gave Me is as sharp as steel Erector edges: His father was an engineer who worked at Rockefeller Center during the late fifties. Returning to the scene of his father's work with a boy's toy skyscraper must feel Oedipal, or Prodigal, or something ...

    ***

    Chris Burden

    Stacy Bolton Communications
    Current Projects

    Chris Burden

    WHAT MY DAD GAVE ME

    At Rockefeller Center
    Presented by Public Art Fund
    and Hosted by Tishman Speyer

    June – July, 2008


    Chris Burden, What My Dad Gave Me (artist rendering), 2008,
    electro-polished stainless steel, 11'6” x 11'6” x 65',
    © Chris Burden, 2008,
    Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery / Public Art Fund.


    (L) Portrait of Chris Burden, © Lisa Eisner,
    Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery;
    (R) Chris Burden, 65 Foot High Skyscraper, Front view, 2008,
    17 x 11 inches, ink on paper, Courtesy of the artist.


    ....
    Chris Burden, What My Dad Gave Me (Construction images),
    © Joel Searle, Courtesy of Gagosian Gallery.

    ***

  3. #63
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    This Chris Burden piece is outrageously crazy and just plain fantastic ...

    Vid: THE FLYING STEAMROLLER

    Chris Burden's Steam Roller outside Tate Britain

    Uploaded on October 13, 2006 by Catfunt


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/catfunt/268420512/sizes/m/in/photostream/

    It drives around and then (seemingly) its momentum lifts it off the ground
    and it completes several rotations before coming back to earth. Once it's
    in the air the driver turns the engine off and there's a nice bit when it
    seems extraordinarily quiet and this big heavy bright yellow steam roller is
    spinning in the air.

    ***

    Chris Burden : The Flying Steamroller

    2|10|2006 - 15|10|2006

    In conjunction with the solo exhibition 14 Magnolia Double Lamps on display at the Gallery (15 September – 5 November), the South London Gallery is delighted to present one of Chris Burden’s greatest works, The Flying Steamroller. An off-site project combining sculpture and performance, this magical work will be on display for fourteen days at the Parade Ground in front of Chelsea College of Art & Design, opposite Tate Britain.

    The Flying Steamroller, 1996, is a huge sculpture which consists of a twelve ton steamroller that is attached to a pivoting arm with a counterbalance weight. The steamroller is driven in an enormous circle until its maximum speed is reached. At the same time, a hydraulic piston is activated and pushes up the beam from which the steamroller is suspended, causing the steamroller to lift off the ground. Because of the combined weight of the steamroller and the counterbalance, which is approximately 48 tons, the steamroller, once lifted off the ground, continues to spin, or “fly” for several minutes. As the steamroller nears the end of its circular motion, or when the spinning momentum is exhausted, the hydraulic piston is slowly retracted and the steamroller gently lands.

    Burden is well-known for incorporating danger into his performances; while The Flying Steamroller is perhaps one of his more whimsical pieces, it still engages with ideas of power and risk. Staged outside the gallery for the first time, and together with the exhibition 14 Magnolia Double Lamps, The Flying Steamroller prompts consideration of how public space is managed and transformed over time to reflect changes in society. Most strikingly, the work highlights the ability of science and technology to confound expectations.

    This exhibition is supported by Bloomberg, with additional thanks to Gagosian Gallery, and Vicky Hughes and John. A. Smith.

    ***

    Chris Burden at South London Gallery


    http://www.flickr.com/photos/escdotdot/266175540/

    Uploaded on October 10, 2006 by escdotdot

  4. #64

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    With Elbow Grease and an Artist’s Eye, a Sculpture in Harlem Regains Its Luster

    Librado Romero/The New York Times
    Parks Department workers and volunteers restore “Harlem Hybrid,” a bronze installed in 1976.

    By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS
    Published: June 28, 2008

    When the artist Richard Hunt conceived Harlem Hybrid, a welded bronze sculpture on a traffic island at West 125th Street, he intended for it to blend in with its surroundings: the triangular plaza it sat on, the church across the street, the street itself.

    Librado Romero/The New York Times
    Richard Hunt standing in front of his sculpture “Harlem Hybrid."

    What he did not expect was for the abstract piece, which was installed in 1976, to become so much a part of the environment that during the 1980s, homeless men took to sleeping under it, flames from barrel fires scarred it, and urine oxidized it before its time.

    Despite its prominent place in Roosevelt Triangle — where 125th Street, Morningside Avenue and Hancock Place intersect — the 5,500-pound sculpture was nearly invisible to passers-by, hidden by graffiti and overgrown shrubbery. In a neighborhood that had more pressing problems, the sculpture was allowed to slowly corrode.

    But on Friday, Mr. Hunt, 72, one of the foremost African-American sculptors of his time, watched as Parks Department employees and volunteer graduate students finished wiping away years of accumulated graffiti, remnants of old posters and stickers, and 15 layers of black paint in an effort to return the work to its original bronze luster.

    For an hour or so, Mr. Hunt, gray-haired and soft-spoken, could not help but beam with pride. He watched the conservationists and graduate students scrub, buff and polish the sheets of bronze he had welded together to mimic the angle of the roofline of the nearby church and its arches.

    At one point, he excused himself to get a camera from his bag so he could take photos.

    Mr. Hunt said he had chosen the location and designed the sculpture to be interactive — an object that children could climb upon and where people could sit. The human contact would be mutually beneficial: oils from the skin and the rubbing against clothing would eventually give the bronze a weathered patina.

    That the sculpture became something more — and less — than Mr. Hunt’s ideal, was something he said he did not mind.

    “You don’t anticipate all the forms of interaction,” he said dryly. “Once an artist puts a piece out as a public sculpture, it’s on its own — kind of like when your child gets out of college. A lot of people believe art should be respected. But this is not a sculpture of a saint.”

    Harlem Hybrid is one of dozens of public sculptures that Mr. Hunt, a Chicago native, has created across the country. He has also been the subject of a solo exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art, and his work has been included in the Metropolitan Museum of Art collection.

    Mr. Hunt pointed out that during the Renaissance, when artists sought to achieve the sort of pretty green patina that is part of the natural corrosion process — and that Harlem Hybrid had accumulated toward its bottom sections — they would treat their bronze with urine to accelerate the chemical interaction.

    But if there was one thing that did bother him about the treatment of Harlem Hybrid, it was in the late 1980s, when the Parks Department began to layer shiny black acrylic paint on it to conceal graffiti.

    “That was a low point,” Mr. Hunt said. “It’s one thing to have various patinas applied. ...”

    The restoration of Harlem Hybrid is part of the Citywide Monuments Conservation Program, which uses its annual budget of about $200,000 — most of it from private sources, like the History Channel and the Samuel H. Kress Foundation — to refurbish the city’s more than 1,000 monuments, including 300 major statues.

    Since 1997, the year the program was founded, about 50 sculptures have been restored, said Jonathan Kuhn, director of the Park Department’s Arts and Antiquities program, which oversees the conservation work.

    Christine Djuric, the Park Department’s monuments conservator, said Harlem Hybrid was chosen for restoration because it was in such poor repair.

    “There are very few monuments or sculptures in this kind of condition,” she said.

    After an application of ammonium sulfide to give the sculpture a chemical patina, and a coat of wax to help make the job of scrubbing away future graffiti a bit easier, the restoration work will be finished during the next several days. The entire process will have taken about three weeks.

    On Friday, people finally stopped to ask about a sculpture that they had walked past for years.

    Hassan Bey, 40, who has lived in the neighborhood for much of his life, looked at it closely for the first time.

    “It’s presentable,” he said. “I don’t know what it is, though. On one side it looks like an elephant. Over there, it looks like a box. What is it?”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/28/ny...on&oref=slogin

    Copyright 2008 The New York Times Company

  5. #65
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    Additional pics & info on Richard Hunt's "Harlem Hybrid" at urbanart blogspot.

  6. #66
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    June 29, 2009, 3:21 pm

    City Hall Art Project Sets Off a Rolling of the Eyes

    By David W. Chen


    Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

    The whimsical transformation of a security booth outside City Hall has drawn less-than-amused responses from those who use and protect the building.

    Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg said he thought the project was “cute,” and could “inspire and delight New Yorkers and visitors.”

    But try telling that to the security guards, city officials and others who arrived at City Hall on Monday, only to notice two security booths newly covered by a printed graphic of cartoon-like red bricks.

    One city councilwoman said it reminded her of Ronald McDonald. Someone else said it looked as if it belonged in a playground, not at the entryway to city government. And with near unanimity, the guards who have to actually be in the booths were, shall we say, not amused.

    “It looks like the North Pole,” said one police officer who — like most people interviewed — begged for anonymity so as not to get in trouble with any of their, um, higher-ranking, art-loving patrons. “If they did it around Christmas, O.K. But now it looks like Candy Land or Wonderland.”

    “I’m just waiting for them to paint the bricks yellow,” another officer said.

    “It’s ridiculous,” still another officer said. “One guy from the Art Commission came up to me and said, ‘What did we do to you?’”

    “It makes us look more visible,” yet another officer said. “Like that’s what I want — more visibility.”

    The Pop Art-like project, called “Wall and Door and Roof,” is the work of the British artist Richard Woods and is being installed by the Public Art Fund, which described the project this way:
    Cladding the property’s two security booths with a printed facade of cartoon-like red bricks, Woods draws on his native vernacular which identifies this design as an inexpensive structural style. The visually dynamic work dramatically juxtaposes the historic architecture of City Hall, with ordinary building materials. Woods’s faux renovation continues inside City Hall on one of the doors within the lobby. Covering the door in a printed graphic that is a replication of itself, the artist creates an optical illusion. Woods includes all of the ornamental details of the original to produce a heightened and flattened sense of reality.
    The work will be on view starting on Thursday, through September.

    http://cityroom.blogs.nytimes.com/20...g-of-the-eyes/

    Copyright 2009 The New York Times Company

  7. #67
    Moderator NYatKNIGHT's Avatar
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    It looks like one of the Three Little Pigs' houses.

  8. #68
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    Actually, it looks like a ticket booth at an amusement park.

    If they are there to see the circus, maybe they got it right after all.....

  9. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by NYatKNIGHT View Post
    It looks like one of the Three Little Pigs' houses.
    So, what do you think would happen if two guys showed up, dressed in costumes that looked like a straw house and a wooden house?

    Maybe carrying piggy banks.

  10. #70
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    July 24, 2009

    Well-Behaved Street-Corner Sculpture

    By KEN JOHNSON


    "The Ego and the Id," by Franz West, on East 60th Street and Fifth Avenue.


    Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman by Augustus Saint-Gaudens


    One of the seven bronze and stainless-steel sculptures by James Surls, Park Avenue between 57th and 51st Streets


    Lever House Lobby sculpture by Tara Donovan


    Hello Kitty figure by Tom Sachs



    Outdoor art isn’t what it used to be. Once it honored heroic individuals and upheld values that whole populations could embrace. Today, excepting memorials like the Vietnam veterans wall, outdoor art serves rather to divert, amuse and comfort.

    A striking illustration of that old-new dichotomy straddles East 60th Street and the southeastern corner of Central Park. On the north side, temporarily installed in Doris C. Freedman Plaza by the Public Art Fund, is “The Ego and the Id,” a big, brightly colored sculpture by the Austrian artist Franz West.

    Its two parts, made of roughly welded-together pieces of aluminum, form lumpy, spindly loops rising 20 feet in the air. One is painted glossy bubblegum pink, while the other sports a coat of yellow, green, blue and orange patches. In places near the ground, the loops morph into round stools on which people can sit. Judging by the reactions of passers-by and their clambering children, this infectiously cheerful work is a popular attraction.

    Meanwhile, on the south side of the street, on an elevated, neo-Classical stone pedestal, is a bigger-than-life gilded-bronze sculpture of the Civil War general William Tecumseh Sherman. Riding on horseback, he follows a female figure in billowing robes, an allegory of Victory. The monument has been here since 1903. On a recent sunny day there were lots of people on the plaza in front of the sculpture, but most were watching a group of athletic young men performing gymnastic dance feats to loud hip-hop music. It seemed a safe bet that no one there knew or cared who the man on the horse was or who made the sculpture that honors him.

    The creator of the Sherman monument, Augustus Saint-Gaudens (1848-1907), was the pre-eminent American sculptor of the 19th and early 20th centuries. His career is the subject of an indoor show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Including miniature cameo portraits, exquisitely sensitive relief portraits of upper-class women and children in marble and bronze and a monumental marble figure of Hiawatha, the exhibition of almost four dozen works from the museum’s collection displays a kind of traditional skill and idealism that practically no one possesses anymore.

    The big problem for outdoor art is the absence of any consensus of values in our pluralistic, multicultural society. It’s hard to imagine a public sculpture of a hero today that would not be regarded by one faction or another as partisan. As an unscientific sampling of art in the public realm this summer confirms, contemporary outdoor art tends to offer unobjectionable, mildly decorative or entertaining and relatively empty experiences.

    A few blocks south of the Sherman monument, placed by the New York City Parks Public Art Program on the Park Avenue median strip between 57th and 51st Streets, are seven bronze and stainless-steel sculptures by James Surls of giant, semi-abstract, fantasy flowers. Mr. Surls, who is based in Carbondale, Colo., is known for funky wooden indoor sculptures resembling the works of an eccentric backwoods visionary.

    With petals inscribed with eyes and other petals in the form of crystals, the Park Avenue works hint at psychedelic experience. But that aspect is neutralized by the colorless metal and a stylistic decorum that turns them into innocuous garden sculptures.

    In the same neighborhood is a more eye-grabbing sculpture by Tara Donovan, the artist known for spectacular accumulations of ordinary objects like plastic straws and disposable cups. Presented in the window of the Lever House Lobby, where it may be viewed from indoors as well as out, Ms. Donovan’s untitled piece consists of 2,500 pounds of plastic sheeting loosely folded into a wide box that is glassed in on the front and back and built into a freestanding white wall.

    At first you notice the serpentine pattern formed by the edges of the plastic material. Then a remarkable optical effect kicks in. Light pouring through from either side reflects on the shiny surfaces of the plastic folds, producing a shimmering, kaleidoscopic effect. The transformation is magical and more hallucinogenic than anything suggested by Mr. Surls’s works.

    (By the way, some art lovers will be relieved to discover that Damien Hirst’s colossal bronze sculpture of a partly dissected pregnant woman has been removed from the outdoor Lever House plaza. It has been replaced by a giant, white Hello Kitty figure by Tom Sachs. A painted bronze that looks as if it were patched together from pieces of foam core, it is not a great improvement, but it is at least not nearly as hideous.)

    One kind of public sculpture practiced by people who want to change the world is the “intervention,” in which the artist subtly alters some existing structure to subvert perceived social complacency. At City Hall Park, under the auspices of the Public Art Fund, the British sculptor Richard Woods has intervened by cladding two octagonal guard booths in panels imprinted with red-on-white brick patterns, giving them the look of cheap amusement-park pavilions. Also, in an indoor lobby, he has covered an elaborately molded door with a flat, printed copy of the door.

    The effect of Mr. Woods’s interventions, collectively titled “wall and door and roof,” is feeble. Had he covered the entire City Hall in the garish brick pattern it would have been something to see; but as it is, it seems unlikely that many people will realize they’re looking at art, much less attach any meaning to it.

    Then there is the latest installment of the P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center’s Young Architects Program, which every summer for the last 10 years has had a team of designers create some sort of shelter for the center’s sun-baked front courtyard. Like previous projects this one, by a New Haven and Cambridge, Mass., firm, MOS, is a hybrid of sculpture and architecture — call it sculpitecture. (MOS’s principal partners are Michael Meredith and Hilary Sample.)

    Titled “afterparty,” it consists of towering conical structures covered by woolly, dark brown Indonesian palm thatching and truncated at the top like volcanoes. The chimneylike cones are supposed to create breezy updrafts, while small valves at the top spray cooling mist on overheated visitors. The whole thing resembles the roofing of a South Pacific king’s palatial hut.

    A treat for young, old, hip and square, it nicely exemplifies the inoffensive spirit of public art today. What Saint-Gaudens would make of MOS’s techno-primitive folly is anyone’s guess.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/07/24/ar...sculpture.html

  11. #71
    Forum Veteran MidtownGuy's Avatar
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    (By the way, some art lovers will be relieved to discover that Damien Hirst’s colossal bronze sculpture of a partly dissected pregnant woman has been removed from the outdoor Lever House plaza. It has been replaced by a giant, white Hello Kitty figure by Tom Sachs. A painted bronze that looks as if it were patched together from pieces of foam core, it is not a great improvement, but it is at least not nearly as hideous.)
    Give me a break. The Hirst sculpture was fantastic, a gigantic plus to the neighborhood. The Hello Kitty looks clumsy and stupid there. It would probably look dumb anywhere. Every time I walk by, I wish someone would smash it like a giant piñata.

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    If you didn't like the Hirst sculpture but like the Hello kitty instead, your not an art lover, but a schlock lover

  13. #73
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Streetscapes | Augustus Saint-Gaudens and Stanford White

    Gilded-Age Monuments and Secrets

    By CHRISTOPHER GRAY


    The Farragut Monument was the first collaboration between the architect Stanford White and Augustus Saint-Gaudens. More Photos >

    THE Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition of the sculpture of Augustus Saint-Gaudens, rich with the work of one of the key figures in the American Renaissance, ends next Sunday. A running theme in the show — indeed, in Saint-Gaudens’s entire life — is his enduring friendship with the architect Stanford White. As it happens, they were interested in delights not only artistic, but earthly.

    Saint-Gaudens was born in Dublin in 1848 to a shoemaker and did not get beyond elementary school. At 13, he was apprenticed to a cameo maker; there was then a large demand for small portrait relief busts, often no bigger than a cigarette case.

    He went to study in Paris at only 19, and won a trickle of commissions in the early 1870s, including a relief of a bulldog armed with revolvers guarding a safe for an Adams Express Company building in Chicago. In 1875, “a devouring love for ice cream” brought him together with the young architects Charles McKim and Stanford White, “a couple of redheads who have been thoroughly mixed up in my life ever since,” according to his autobiography, “The Reminiscences of Augustus Saint-Gaudens” (Century, 1913).

    The next year, the young sculptor secured the commission that made him: the Farragut Monument in Madison Square Park. Unveiled in 1881, this subtle, fluid work could be considered the most important work of statuary in New York, a revelation of naturalistic modeling at a time that public sculpture was stiff and formal. Farragut stands in a vigorous pose, his long coat flung back by the wind.

    The granite base, designed with Stanford White, is in the form of a curved, high-backed bench, with streaming, sea-current-like forms running across the central pier, engulfing two dolphins at the corners. Compared with other work of the time, it is as if an art nouveau column capital appeared on a high Renaissance facade.

    In 1885, The Brooklyn Daily Eagle noted that a project for a soldiers’ and sailors’ monument in Brooklyn had been seriously delayed by a prolonged and unsuccessful attempt to engage the now-famous Saint-Gaudens.

    The sculptor quickly became fast friends with McKim and White, who would design many of the settings for his sculptures. He made a satirical medal to commemorate a trip they made to southern France in 1878. At top, a wild-eyed White stares out from underneath a startling shock of hair, on the right McKim’s near-baldness is lampooned with an exaggerated high forehead and at left Saint-Gaudens portrayed his naturally pointy face made even pointier by drawing out his goatee.

    Saint-Gaudens won another important early commission in 1884, for a memorial to Col. Robert G. Shaw, killed with many of his African-American troops in the Union assault on Fort Wagner in 1863. It is a memorable landmark on the edge of Boston Common, particularly distinctive for its inclusion of the black soldiers who served with Colonel Shaw.

    In 1892, Saint-Gaudens received the commission for the Sherman monument at the Plaza, which was dedicated in 1903, four years before his death. Indeed, even allowing for the burdens of modeling and casting, he worried his works — and clients — over many years, in part because of his trans-Atlantic existence, split between New York and Paris. His Shaw memorial was not unveiled until 1897, and his haunting, hooded memorial to Marian Adams in Washington was finished six years after her suicide.

    Saint-Gaudens was particularly close to Stanford White, and in 1884 gave White and his new wife, the former Bessie Smith, a marble relief portrait of Mrs. White as a wedding present. But at the same time it is known that the sculptor and architect enjoyed a life of enthusiastic unchastity.

    Paul R. Baker is emeritus professor of history at New York University, and his book “Stanny: The Gilded Life of Stanford White” (Free Press, 1989) delicately summarizes their activities in rooms rented by their secret “Sewer Club.” Sometimes Saint-Gaudens signed his letters to White with epigrams like “Kiss me where I can’t” or a phallic symbol. Such ribaldry may have been traditional masculine ribbing, although Professor Baker notes a continuing thread of homoerotic overtones.

    White, of course, carried on legendary heterosexual affairs which were often considered predatory. And Saint-Gaudens, already married, is known to have fathered a child with one of his models. But, except for the eruption of public condemnation after White’s murder in 1906 by the husband of one of his conquests, Evelyn Nesbit, they both were able to keep their personal lives separate from their artistic endeavors, and it is a challenge to weigh the elegant sculpture in the Metropolitan show against the private life of one of the great artists of the 19th century.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/11/08/re...eets.html?_r=1

  14. #74
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Civic Virtue



    Triumphant over unrighteousness at City Hall, 1925


    Rough Boy moves out, 1941

    Frederick Macmonnies was a sculptor of great renown, and both the Parks Commission and the Municipal Art Commission had been pleased in 1915 to approve the design for the life's masterwork that would someday stand sentinel in City Hall Park alongside his famous Nathan Hale.

    Now, seven years later, here was completed his 22-ton marble allegory: "Civic Virtue Triumphant Over Unright-eousness" – a near-naked youth, sword in hand, two mermaids at his feet, one crushed, the other cowering. Here was the conqueror of Temptation. Here was the vanquisher of the Loreleis. Here, in short, was a guy who stomped on girls. Shocked were the cities' ladies.

    Complaints rained down on Mayor John Hylan: Demeaning and degrading! Virtue is male? Unright-eousness is female?

    "Men have their feet on women's necks and the sooner women realize it the better!" cried the National Women's Party. Hylan immediately sensed political difficulties. Women had the vote now, after all. You couldn't just tell them to sit down and be quiet any more.

    Accordingly, for weeks there raged the Battle of the Sexes in one volcanic public hearing after another as city fathers pondered the appropriateness of installing in a public place Frederick MacMonnies' vision of goodness victorious, which by now the whole town had nicknamed Rough Boy.

    Hylan made a large point of siding with the irked critics – "I don't claim to know much about art," he said, "but I know I don't like the looks of this chap" – but in the end the Board of Estimate voted yea, given that the statue had cost $60,000 anyway, and on April 20, 1922, workers hoisted Civic Virtue into place outside City Hall. Where he remained for nearly 20 years, an eternal municipal emblem, sort of, until he got moved to Queens.

  15. #75
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    ... on April 20, 1922, workers hoisted Civic Virtue into place outside City Hall. Where he remained for nearly 20 years, an eternal municipal emblem, sort of, until he got moved to Queens.
    Is that lad still in Queens?

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