Posts tagged with "Sculpture":

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Michael Graves Architecture completes the world’s tallest statue

Gujarat, India, now boasts the tallest statue in the world. The nearly 600-foot-tall Statue of Unity, completed on November 1, is a bronze duplicate of India’s first deputy prime minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel. It was designed and master planned by Michael Graves Architecture & Design (MGA) and is intended to anchor what will eventually become a resort. The monument took eight years to design and four to build. Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the time still the chief minister of Gujarat, first proposed the sculpture in 2010 and construction began in 2014. The statue proper, designed by Indian sculptor Ram V. Sutar, reaches nearly 50-stories tall and sits on a three-tiered base that boosts the height to its record-breaking status. The geometrically-sculpted base sits on its own riverine island and is connected to the mainland via a pedestrian and road bridge. Inside, guests are met with a visitor’s center, hotel, and an exhibition hall, all of which is topped with a memorial garden. Part of the challenge that MGA faced in designing an occupiable structure—a 500-foot-tall viewing platform in the chest is accessible through elevators that run through the statue—is the sculpture’s “walking pose.” The non-symmetrical pose posed a challenge in orienting the base, and MGA managed to hide the zig-zagging elevator system inside of the memorial’s flowing robes. Two structural concrete cores were used to anchor the Statue of Unity, which support the steel framework (cast from scrap sourced all over India) attached to the 2,000 tons of exterior bronze paneling. Vallabhai Patel was a central figure in the Indian independence struggle as well as the unification of India’s 567 British vassal states into one country. A rammed earth wall, constructed from dirt taken from every state in India, is used at the State of Unity’s base as a background for the national flag. The $460 million statue won’t be the world’s tallest for long, as similar megaprojects are already in the pipeline. The Spring Temple Buddha in China, knocked down to second place, is planning to add its own podium and boost its height from 500 feet to 682 feet tall, and a 695-foot-tall statue of the warrior-king Chhatrapati Shivaji is slated to open off of the coast of Mumbai in 2020.
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The World’s Fair Grounds in San Antonio gets a playful facelift courtesy of MIG

Some consider the most formative date in San Antonio's history to be the fall of the Alamo, while others believe it’s the day the World’s Fair took over the city for six months in 1968. It was just a dusty city before more than 6.3 million attended the HemisFair ’68. A few of the original structures built for the fair still exist on the 92 acres in the heart of downtown, and many of them were left unused for decades. In 2009, the San Antonio City Council established the Hemisfair Park Area Redevelopment Corporation (HPARC) to revitalize a 37-acre new development, including a 4-acre park designed by MIG. The project’s name, Yanaguana Garden, comes from a folktale told by the Payaya Native Americans of a blue panther that chases a bird through the night sky. A drop that fell from its wings left the blue hole that came to be the source of San Antonio’s river. This fable inspired the mosaic tile benches, panther sculpture, murals, and a blue paved pathway that represents the river, which snakes through the entire site. HPARC’s mission for Yanaguana Garden was to bring both children and adults to the city center. MIG focused on placemaking, designing a public space with courtyards, greenery, artwork, and playscapes. The park features a winding promenade, partly covered by a vine-draped pergola, which leads to the central square with giant checkerboard paving by Pavestone Company. The entire park is illuminated by Lumascape street light fixtures and lined with Victor Stanley benches. MIG also installed an outdoor theater with a dedicated seating area, play equipment by Landscape Structures, and a splash pad water fountain by Vortex Aquatic Structures. In addition to the frolicsome furnishings, the landscape includes mature trees to provide shade. The saplings prevent soil run-off and help maintain proper irrigation year-round. This environmentally sustainable approach will also be applied by the organization to expand and improve the rest of what used to be the HemisFair World’s Fair Grounds. Yanaguana Garden at HemisFair The ’68 World’s Fair Grounds, San Antonio Landscape Architect: MIG Landscape Planting: Bender Wells Clark Design Lighting: Lumascape Playground Equipment: Landscape Structures, Corocord Splash Pad Water Wall: Vortex Aquatic Structures Custom Precast Spheres: Quickcrete Products Corp. Benches: Victor Stanley Paving: Pavestone Company Mosaic Glass Artist: Oscar Alvarado
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Mexico City’s public sculpture corridor is a broken dream worth saving

Soon after Mexico City was designated to host the 1968 Olympics, the idea of a year-long cultural program emerged—one which would come to shape the ethos of the games for years to come. Hinting at the Greek Olympics’ legacy, the Mexican Cultural Olympiad would deploy 20 cultural events and projects throughout the year while promoting a modern discourse of peace at a time when the cold war profoundly divided the world. As part of the program, the Polish-born, Mexican artist and architect Mathias Goeritz (who coined the concept of “Emotional Architecture” with Luis Barragán) proposed an ambitious public sculptures route integrated with the city as a way to respond to its rapid urbanization. La Ruta de la Amistad (or the Route of Friendship), as it was named, would offer new ways of navigating the capital while making art available to the masses and celebrating international dialogue. The proposal was received with great enthusiasm from the chair of the Mexican Olympic Organizing Committee, the influential architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. In the lead-up to the Olympics, a total of 22 sculptures were commissioned from 19 artists and architects, including the Uruguayan artist Gonzalo Fonseca, the French artist Olivier Seguin, the American sculptor Alexander Calder, and the Mexican sculptor Ángela Gurría. Goeritz’s curatorial brief was simple: All sculptures should be abstract, of monumental scale, and use concrete as their main material. The project would become the largest sculptural thoroughfare in the world, connecting Olympics venues across a distance of 11 miles—and a great source of pride for Mexico. However, a week and a half before the official start of the games, the route, like the rest of the Cultural Olympiad, was obscured by the Massacre of Tlatelolco, in which the Mexican military and the police killed at least 300 students and civilians protesting government repression and corruption. Politicians, used to controlling every aspect of Mexican society, showed little patience for the demonstrations, which they feared would damage their cherished reputation as Olympics hosts. For the government, the games had become a platform to project its progressive, modern ideals and to challenge the perception that it was a developing country. Fifty years on, the sculptures stand neglected, in a state of near decay, like the remnants of a broken dream. “In Mexico, the route isn’t seen as something important. Not for the people, nor the government,” lamented Luis Javier de la Torre, president of Patronato Ruta de la Amistad, as he toured us around its principal site, now overshadowed by the infamous Periferico, a dystopic, elevated highway crossing the city. The organization he cofounded in 1994 with Javier Ramírez Campuzano (the son of Ramírez Vázquez) is in charge of conserving the sculptures and promoting their legacy. Prior to this, the route was largely abandoned and subjected to vandalism. The Patronato was able to restore and relocate a number of pieces at risk of deterioration, creating a centralized location composed of 13 works between 2011 and 2013. To mark the Route’s 50th anniversary, the Patronato is launching a number of activities with partner organizations on a shoestring budget. The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes is opening an exhibition about it this October, scheduled to coincide with Design Week Mexico (October 10 to 15). Meanwhile, the official program of World Design Capital Mexico City 2018 has incorporated educational projects to bring awareness to the route. “Its values live on,” argued de la Torre. So why does the route fail to receive the public interest and support it deserves? According to de la Torre, a combination of a conflicted sense of national identity, a lack of understanding, and the collective trauma of 1968 are responsible. “We don’t have a proper identity as a country,” he explained, nodding to Mexican poet Octavio Paz’s The Labyrinth of Solitude, a series of essays that discusses the existential tension between colonial and indigenous cultures in the country. “No one believed that as a society we were capable of running the Olympics in ways that would be replicated by others around the world,” he continued. Most important, the political turmoil associated with 1968 overbearingly shaped the country’s consciousness of that moment. “This is where the dream broke,” said Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, this year’s Serpentine Pavilion designer, when we visited her studio. At the recent Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans, Escobedo revisited the Ruta de la Amistad by presenting a reproduction of the metal frame behind the sculpture by Olivier Seguin. The precarious-looking, welded steel structure—now permanently installed at Le Parc Floral de La Source in Orléans, France—was inspired by an installation shot of the original work, which the architect discovered while visiting the archives of the FRAC Centre in France. “The picture presented the reality of 1968,” Escobedo recounted, reflecting on the ambiguous promise of modernism in the construction of Mexico’s national identity. “It’s all a spectacle.” “We haven’t been able to separate things,” explained de la Torre of the troubled legacy of 1968. “I think that now, there is an opportunity for both narratives to coexist.” But should the Olympics’ cultural legacy really be separated from its political context? Before the army opened fire at the crowd on October 2, 1968, anti-government protesters were chanting, “¡No queremos olimpiadas, queremos revolución!” (“We don't want the Olympics, we want a revolution!”)
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Latinx artists explore modern architecture and indigenous space at the Whitney

The Whitney Museum exhibition Pacha, Llaqta, Wasichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art displays seven Latinx artists’ responses to the built environment through construction, land, and space. Curator Marcela Guerrero has brought together 80 recent works and site-specific installations by William Cordova, Livia Corona Benjamín, Jorge González, Guadalupe Maravilla, Claudia Peña Salinas, Ronny Quevedo, and Clarissa Tossin. The works display a wide range of references, from adaptations of pre-Columbian temples to migration routes. The title iincludes three words in Quechua, the most common indigenous language spoken today in the Americas. Each has multiple meanings: Pacha is the universe, time, space, nature, world; llaqta, place, country, community, town; and wasichay, to build or construct a house. Clarissa Tossin’s video, Ch’u Mayaa (Maya Blue) (2017), was shot at Frank Lloyd Wright’s Hollyhock House in Los Angeles. Tossin moves figures around the temple-like forms to a soundtrack of body sounds and pre-Columbian flutes while demonstrating the performative, ceremonial nature of Mayan (and Mayan revival) architecture. Tossin’s sculptures that surround the video are inspired by reliefs at the nearby Mayan Theater by Mexican artist Francisco Cornejo that referenced both Central America and Hollywood film productions. Ronny Quevedo’s father was a professional soccer player in Ecuador, and his Orders of Magnitude (desde Qoricancha) (2018), Errant Globe (2015), and Ulama, Ule, Olé (2012) use sports themes (here, ulama, a ball game) with imagery of a gym floor, ball courts, and constellations arranged in “maps.” Gold leaf refers to Spanish colonial invaders and is used to render migratory patterns visible, including his own; Quevedo’s family relocated from Ecuador to New York. In her photogram series, Infinite Rewrite (2018), Livia Corona Benjamín features Mexican grain silos or graneros del pueblo (silos for the people) built during the Compañía Nacional de Subsistencias Populares initiative from 1965-1999. A prototype design by architect Pedro Ramirez Vázquez could be built by farmers with local materials. However, the 4,000 silos that were built were abandoned, and the project ended in failure. These photos, made with multiple exposures that fracture the image almost like mosaics, show how the structures have since been adapted for other purposes: schools, churches, motels. In the gallery, the installation uses 12-foot-tall walls and a floor plan that echoes both the silos’ conical shapes and cruciform plazas. Ayacabo Guarocoel (2018) by Jorge Gonzalez combined Modernism and Puerto Rican Taino (indigenous Caribbean) vernacular in this site-specific installation of a full-height windowed gallery looking eastward. The accordion roof is the mid-century element while the walls are enea (cattail) and dried clay, used in bohíos (huts) and in furniture. He has also made benches specifically for the exhibition. Another site-specific installation sits on the outdoor fifth-floor terrace called huaca (sacred geometries) (2018), by William Cordova, and uses wood with a stainless-steel gate. It references Huaca Huantille, a temple from the Ichma culture (1100–1400 AD) in Peru that predates the Inca. Before it became an official heritage site in 2001, the temple was claimed by squatters who improvised shelters out of scaffolding (the artist grew up nearby). Seen from the balconies above, you can see why Cordova calls it a “non-monument.” Claudia Peña Salinas’s installation—composed of Cueyatl (2017), Tlaloc MNA (2018), Chalchiuhtlicue MNA (2018) and more—refers to and reinterprets archeological objects at the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City. The layout is based on the mythical Aztec paradise of Tlacocan. Together, these artworks form provocative insights and interpretations of the architectural landscape and cultural heritage across Mesoamerica and offer tantalizing insights into the contemporary power of indigenous work. Pacha, Llaqta, Washichay: Indigenous Space, Modern Architecture, New Art will run at the Whitney through September 30, 2018.
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In upstate New York, a DMT-inspired psychedelic temple rises

Tucked away on a tree-studded, 40-acre plot just a quarter mile from the Hudson River, one of New York’s most unusual construction projects is underway. The Chapel of Sacred Mirrors (CoSM)—a transdenominational church and registered nonprofit—has been constructing the Entheon: “A place to discover god within.” The three-story windowless art space will be a temple to, among other things, original “visionary art” from the church’s husband-and-wife co-founders, Alex and Allyson Grey. The couple, who have been together since first meeting (and dropping acid) in 1975, previously ran an art space in Manhattan. After closing down their Chelsea outpost in 2009, Alex and Allyson moved upstate, where they have been running their collective and a psychedelic variant of a bed-and-breakfast. Their Wappingers Falls location hosts monthly full-moon festivities, as well as large concerts and events. Placing art at the very center of their faith, the estate already features large-scale architectural artworks, such as the three-story gazebo-temple Altered States made by artist Kate Raudenbush, who describes herself as “New York-based, Burning Man–bred.” Alex Grey is perhaps best known for his hyper-detailed paintings of human bodies set on trippy backgrounds that reveal the figures’ underlying circulatory systems, musculature, and spiritual meridian points through translucent skin. Grey's audience has not been limited to a cult following of the chemically inclined; he exhibited at the New Museum in 1986. For members of CoSM, visionary art is at the center of their cosmology—like pre-iconoclastic medieval clerics, they understand art not just as a gateway to the divine, but as the manifestation of the divine itself. It’s only natural that this artist-pastor couple would need to build a sanctuary for creativity. Selecting a point on their 40-acre plot that aligns with the solar plexus of a projected goddess, “the kabbalistic sephirot of justice,” CoSM has begun converting a former carriage house into a three-level, 12,000-square-foot concrete structure replete with modern amenities, including an ADA-compliant elevator. As with the foundation of the Greys’ relationship and their church, psychedelics and entactogens play a central role in the eccentric design of the Entheon. It was, in fact, a (then legal) shared MDMA experience that showed the Greys they should not sell their work, but rather build a chapel to share it with a “worldwide love tribe.” Though currently a bare concrete structure, there are big plans for the Entheon. Highly detailed renderings by Ryan Tottle (an Academy Award-winning animator who has worked on major films such as Disney’s Frozen) promise an architecturally complex and spiritually rich exterior. The proposed building is a veritable mythological bestiary. Four-faced ancient-Egypt-inspired “Soulbirds” guard one door. Another door features a design that returns Adam and Eve to the Garden of Eden. Winged “Angels of the Creative Imagination” punctuate the facade, interspersed between the larger “Godheads” that comprise the bulk of the outer walls. These Godheads “bear symbols of different world-wisdom traditions above each Cosmic Eye.” “DNA dragons” rise up from the corners of the roof to its center—liquid and vibrating creatures whose sides are a continuous double helix, a form that, according to a likely false urban legend, was discovered by British molecular biologist Francis Crick under the influence of LSD. Allyson’s “secret writing,” a script using a 20-letter unpronounceable alphabet, will run the upper edge of the Entheon and be guarded by sculpted “Angels of the Four Directions.” And these are just some of the building’s creatures and spiritual guardians. The roof—trypophobes beware—is a concentric array of eyes; called “Collective Vision,” the imagery inspired by a DMT experience of Alex’s that Allyson had the insight to suggest as a roof pattern, a “canopy of consciousness.” As a free e-book on the Entheon points out, “Collective Vision” is a visual motif that has appeared in the graphics and on the stage sets of “America’s number one cult band, Tool.” The collective hopes to use cast concrete, 3-D printing, and other technologies to realize this energetic facade. The three-level interior of the Entheon is intended to be equally elaborate. Through the ornate gold doors there will be, among other spaces, a Chapel of Sacred Mirrors, with its Gothic-style arches; the All One gallery; a museum shop; and a reliquary room featuring the spectacles of the first person to both synthesize and take LSD, Swiss scientist Albert Hoffman, and the ashes of the legendary Harvard professor and psychedelic evangelist Timothy Leary. Leary’s famous Millbrook mansion, the site of so much psychonautic exploration, is just over 20 miles away from CoSM’s own estate. Fundraising for the Entheon continues. The first cycle of fundraising began in 2013 (plans to build began around 2012). According to its website, the church has raised $2.3 million so far. For devotees, the Entheon is the logical next step in their faith of art and love. As Alex told Mushroom Magazine in July 2015, “We believe the inevitable consequence of love is the building of temples.”
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Diana Al-Hadid’s delirious Madison Square Park installations are up for the summer

Delirious Matter, the 36th season of outdoor art at Madison Square Park, is now officially open, and park goers can discover ruined busts, dripping walls, and a mountainous, 14-foot-tall sculpture plunked in the northern fountain. AN recently had the opportunity to tour the park with Delirious Matter artist Diana Al-Hadid and discuss both the current installation and her upcoming exhibition at the Bronx Museum of the Arts. Citadel, the voluminous fountain sculpture, was inspired by Hans Memling’s Allegory of Chastity, a 15th-century painting of a woman emerging from a mountain. Painting plays an intrinsic part in Al-Hadid’s process; Citadel started as two life-sized paintings, and Al-Hadid cut and welded steel rods to follow her design, later reinforcing it for stability. The dripping “snow caps” of aluminum foil and gypsum lend some solidity to a structure that would otherwise be made of voids. Continuing the dichotomy between new materials and old techniques and void and solid form, three female Synonym busts have been scattered around the park. The headless figures, resembling hollowed-out classical antiquities, are elevated on plinths but still totally accessible to the public and were created by dripping a gypsum polymer mixture over Al-Hadid’s existing works, Antonym. At the park’s center is the anchor of the installation, a hedged-in “room” created by opposing walls of dripped gypsum and paint. Gravida, named for the Roman god Mars Gradivus, is 36 feet long and arched to create an entrance way and directly frames the opposing wall, a 22-foot-long rising peak that also references Allegory of Chastity. The forms were originally painted on the wall and reinforced from behind after they were peeled off. Delirious Matter is Al-Hadid’s first outdoor installation, which necessitated thinking about how the sculptures would interplay with the landscaping, the elements, and the demands of the public. For a more traditional example of Al-Hadid’s work, the Bronx Museum of the Arts will be running a sister Delirious Matter show from July 18 through October 14, with the massive Nolli’s Orders sculpture at its center. A collection of voids and twisting figures supported by iconic pieces of Roman architecture, Nolli’s Orders references the 1748 survey of Rome by Giambattista Nolli. While the 2012 sculpture doesn’t correlate directly to Nolli’s map, Al-Hadid drew on the poses and depictions of public and private spaces in the city when planning Nolli’s Orders. The Madison Square Park show will run through September 3, 2018.
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Spiraling Calatrava sculpture to be installed along the Chicago River

With the ambitious Chicago Spire now resembling nothing more than a privy pit, Santiago Calatrava might not have an opportunity to reshape the Chicago Skyline. But he may yet have an opportunity to help drive a new sense of place along the Chicago River. On May 7, Mayor Rahm Emanuel announced that Calatrava will be designing a sculpture intended for the front lawn of River Point, Pickard Chilton Architects' hyperbolic skyscraper at 444 Lake Street along the north branch of the Chicago River. With a working title of S25, the piece will twist like a wild leafy wing spiraling out from the ground. “The partners of River Point hope Chicagoans will fall in love with the inspired Santiago Calatrava sculpture as they have with Chicago’s Picasso, Kapoor, Chagall, Miro, Plensa, Calder and so many more,” said Larry Levy of Levy Family Partners, part of the ownership group of River Point. Refined public space and art partnerships along the Chicago River are a principal component of the Mayor’s Building on Burnham Plan, which makes investments in natural areas and recreational opportunities at the Lakefront and the river. The Building on Burnham Plan draws insight from Daniel Burnham and Edward H. Bennett’s 1909 Plan of Chicago, which was only partially implemented but continues to inspire planners and architects, particularly in its suggestions regarding parkland. Construction for the 2,000-foot-tall spiraling condo tower Calatrava designed on the 2.2-acre site in Chicago began in 2007 but stalled in 2008 due to the global financial crisis, leaving a gaping circular hole in Streeterville. After multiple false starts and mitigation techniques, including placing a landscaped berm around the site in 2016 to appease neighbors, Related Midwest has taken over the site, and will be announcing plans for it on May 15. Calatrava’s sculpture will be installed along a portion of the river known as Wolf Point, at the confluence of the north branch and the main branch of the 156-mile river. Fabrication of the sculpture is expected to take 14 months, with its installation slated for Summer 2019.
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Luhring Augustine’s sculpture survey celebrates a half-century of the form

Spread across Luhring Augustine’s Chelsea and Bushwick locations, Sculpture explores its namesake form with work from 17 artists—living and dead—made over the past six decades. Given that sculpture already shares a fuzzy boundary with other spatial practices, the exhibition unsurprisingly features a number of artists working explicitly with architecture and the built environment. Perhaps the most well-known artist who deals with architecture and one of the biggest living names in the exhibition is British artist and Turner Prize winner Rachel Whiteread, famous (or infamous, depending who you ask) for her three-story sculpture, House (1993). Whiteread has two pieces on display in Sculpture. In Bushwick, there is the ghostly cast plaster and polystyrene work Untitled (Double) (1998). The long, monumental prism is simultaneously unitary—a single long form—and an identical pair, defined by deep symmetrical grooves. A visual paradox, it uncannily uncouples precisely through its coupling. Untitled (Double) continues Whiteread’s use of casting and molds to trouble the binaries of absence and presence and constructed and negative space, exploring the entanglement of memory and built worlds. In Chelsea, Whiteread’s Untitled (Amber Floor) (1993) is on display. The rubber slab is nearly eight feet long, invading the viewer’s space while its small fold crawls up the wall, calling attention to the gallery’s form as a whole. It forces one to notice the unnoticed—the very floor they are standing upon. Complementing Whiteread’s work in Bushwick is a sculpture by Los Angeles-based Oscar Tuazon, who the gallery will be presenting in a solo show at its Chelsea location beginning April 28th. Though primarily self-identifying as a sculptor, Tuazon occupies a space between artist, architect, and activist. He creates sculptural work, installations, and public sites that are constantly in flux, their maintenance and use thus becoming part of their artistic production. Tuazon’s contribution, Condenser (Venta Contracta) (2015), is a tilted pyramid of concrete and fiberglass tubes that reconfigure the familiar, if often hidden, forms of urban infrastructure. Like Whiteread, German artist Reinhard Mucha explores the intersection of memory and the built world, often simultaneously recalling personal and political meanings.The diptych Untitled (“Pearl Paint” New York West Side Highway 1977) (1998) (displayed in Chelsea) and the two-part “ensemble” of works Before the Wall Came Down (2008) and Lennep (2009) (on view in Bushwick) are bricolages of found materials, enamel, oil paint, readymade objects such as stools and rulers, and images which memorialize the artist’s own collaborative urban interventions. The work in Sculpture takes many scales and styles. Some are decidedly smaller, such as the mononymous artist Zarina’s wall-mounted sculpture Memory of Bangkok (1980–2011) which exhibits an architectural interest rendered with a printmaker’s sensibility. Glenn Ligon takes language itself as his material, while some artists like Cady Noland and Tunga rely on everyday objects—construction barriers, oversized lamps, vases, beer cans—in their work. The show has nearly too many artists to mention, as Simone Leigh, Janine Antoni, Tom Friedman, Roger Hiorns, Steve Wolfe, Phillip King, Jeremy Moon, Martin Kippenberger, Pipilotti Rist, and Christopher Wool are all also featured in the two-gallery, two-burrough exhibition. Not only expansive in its roster, Sculpture displays work produced over a wide swath of time (Phillip King’s Ripple was originally produced in 1963 and Jeremy Moon’s Untitled is from 1964 while Simone Leigh’s Opuwo is from this year). Despite (or, perhaps, precisely because of) the range in dates of the objects’ creations, Sculpture makes no attempt at organizing a clear trajectory or historical narrative. However, many of the artists are represented by Luhring Augustine or have shown with the gallery before, suggesting that the exhibition is a self-portrait of the gallery of sorts. In this way, we perhaps can see Sculpture as a look at the gallery’s history rather than at the history of a form. Even still, with its wide-reaching constellation of work, Sculpture highlights the plurality of materials, means, and motivations behind sculptural practice of the past six decades. Sculpture Luhring Augustine 531 West 24th Street, New York, NY and 25 Knickerbocker Ave, Brooklyn, NY On view in Chealsea until April 14 and in Bushwick until May 5
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Christo reveals his first major British work, to float on Serpentine Lake

On April 3, the world-renowned artist Christo began construction of his first major public work in the United Kingdom, The Mastaba. The stand-alone, pyramidal sculpture composed of 55-gallon oil barrels will be located in London’s Hyde Park, floating atop the park’s 40-acre Serpentine Lake. The temporary sculpture will be built by a team of engineers, and will consist of over 7,000 barrels placed over a floating platform. Rising at a 60-degree angle, the structure will reach a height of 65.5 feet with a 90-foot width at its base. The base’s floating platform will be constructed of weighted, high-density polyethylene cubes. These buoyant cubes will support a steel scaffolding frame serving as the structural core of the 500-ton sculpture. In terms of surface area, the footprint of the sculpture will be approximately one percent of the Serpentine. Barrels visible along the slopes and top of sculpture will be painted red and white, while those located on the two vertical walls will be a gradient of mauve, blue, and red. Following the project's decommissioning, materials such as the oil barrels will be recycled for industrial use within the United Kingdom. The project is influenced by Christo's decades-long effort to create The Mastaba in Dubai, a speculative concept utilizing 190,000 oil barrels to create the largest, permanent structure in the world. In a press release, Christo noted that the construction, maintenance and removal of his works is entirely funded by the artist through the sale of his original works of art, as well as philanthropic donations. In tandem with Christo’s unveiling of The Mastaba, the nearby Serpentine Galleries will present its first exhibition of Christo’s decades-long collaboration with his late wife, Jean-Claude. The artistic duo was known for their large-scale and public works. Past pieces such as Wall of Iron Barrels (1961) and The Wall (1998) similarly used oil barrels for massively scaled sculptures. Public parks and natural landscapes figured prominently in their partnership, with Running Fence (1976) and The Gates (2005) contrasting and drawing upon their surrounding environments. Weather permitting, construction of the sculpture will be complete by June 18, with dismantlement commencing on September 23.
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A show of monumental light “drawings” transforms space at Pioneer Works

Legendary English light artist Anthony McCall has brought his ethereal explorations of time, form and cinema to Brooklyn, with a new show at the Pioneer Works cultural center in Redhook through March 11. Solid Light Works uses the venue’s 30-foot-tall ceilings to project monumental light “drawings” through a pitch-black, smoky room, creating explorable sculptures that have form but lack physicality. McCall’s work have always been presented as experiences rather than pieces, with his light sculptures contracting and expanding over time and constantly changing the relationship between the viewer and the art. Solid Light Works continues that tradition here, with four vertical and two horizontal installations that were selectively chosen from the artist’s bank of over 250 potential pieces. Speaking at a Pioneer Works panel discussion on February 27, McCall discussed how the works in the show, while not site-specific, were all “site sensitive”; after the sculptures were chosen, curator Gabriel Florenz worked with McCall to build out a unique exhibition space complete with controlled sightlines and room for the lengthy horizontal projections. Somewhere between a line drawing, sculpture, and structure, McCall has described the inhabitable portions of his works as “islands of serenity,” where viewers are sandwiched between seemingly tangible walls of light and treated to an experience that feels holy. Drawing on the language of film, all of McCall’s work relies on wipes, a film technique where one image quickly slides over another, to shift the structure of the piece over much longer spans of time. McCall explained that while short performances might draw crowds, the same experience stretched out into an all-day event attracted singular patrons interested in interacting with the work. Much has changed since McCall staged his first light sculpture, Line Describing a Cone. In his landmark 1973 film, the artist uses a projector to “draw” a circle with a projector in a smoke-filled room, creating a three-dimensional cone in the process. Gone is the cigarette smoke used as a transmission medium in the first showing. Moreover, moving to digital projection from film has enabled McCall to realize the towering sculptures at Pioneer Works; film projectors were simply too heavy to hang vertically. Technology has also changed the audience, and visitors might find that the delicate pieces have been drowned out by ambient smartphone light. Pioneer Works will be showing Solid Light Works through March 11, but will keep the installation (and the building) open for 48 straight hours from March 10 through 11. More information about the show can be found here.
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Deliriously dripping sculptures are coming to Madison Square Park

Just in time for spring, the 36th season of outdoor art at Madison Square Park will bring architectural landscapes, dissolving mythological figures, and eroding monuments to the lower Manhattan park. Diana Al-Hadid’s Delirious Matter will weave feminine narratives with Modernist thinking and scatter “ruins” for park-goers to discover come May 7, 2018. The Aleppo-born artist is well known for using casting techniques and materials that result in ethereal, yet surprisingly strong, works, and Delirious Matter is no exception. Six sculptures will be on display, and all of them resemble eroded organic forms, produced through pouring colored polymer gypsum on a surface, peeling it off and reinforcing the structure with a fiberglass coating. Al-Hadid has called the technique “a blend between fresco and tapestry.” “I was educated by Modernist instructors in the Midwest, but also was raised in an Islamic household with a culture that very much prizes narrative and folklore,” explained Al-Hadid. On the park’s Oval Lawn, Al-Hadid will lay down a set of 14-foot-tall porous walls that fade into the hedges, one 36 feet long and the other 22 feet, allowing visitors to explore the gaps in the hard scaffolding. The first wall, Gravida, evokes the Roman god Mars Gradivus, while the second references Allegory of Chastity by Hans Memling, a 15th century painting where a woman arises from a mountain, her clothing and body becoming one with the rocky landscape. Three female figures in repose, all of them missing heads and sitting on plinths, will be scattered around the rest of the park. The three sculptures that make up Synonym all hover in midair, dripped over invisible, destroyed classical statues, and are seemingly supported by nothing more than the extra fluid that’s spilled over the sides. A final sculpture, also referencing Allegory of Chastity, will be installed in the park’s reflecting pool. Delirious Matter is Al-Hadid’s attempt to blend sculpture and plant matter for the first time in her career, much in the same way her work combines contemporary fabrication methods to reinterpret historical paintings and sculptures; it also represents her largest show to date. Delirious Matter was made possible in part by a $35,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Arts, and through the support of the Madison Square Park Conservancy. The show will run in tandem with the Diana Al-Hadid: Delirious Matter at the Bronx Museum of the Arts from July 18 through October 14, 2018, while Al-Hadid’s melting mashups in the park will be on display until September 3, 2018.
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Two Ai Weiwei sculptures come to Texas

According to the League of American Cyclists, Austin is the only “Gold Level” city in Texas. The cycle group, Bike Austin, currently boasts approximately 13,000 members—more than one percent of Austin’s population. So perhaps a sculpture titled Forever Bicycles has found the right home.

Forever Bicycles comprises, well, you guessed it, a lot of bicycles—1,200, to be precise.

The large-scale work from Chinese artist Ai Weiwei is part of The Contemporary Austin’s Museum Without Walls program and its ongoing partnership with Waller Creek Conservancy. It can be found adjacent to the Waller Creek Boathouse at 74 Trinity Street.

The steel bikes have not been painted or colored, resulting in a gray monolith that recalls Weiwei’s childhood memories and dadaist principles. In particular, it seems to reference Marcel Duchamp’s subversions of the everyday object such as the Bicycle Wheel, one first of the French artist’s “readymades.”

However, while Duchamp toyed with the mode transport in a singular fashion, Weiwei exhibits it in excess, recalling the bike brand “Forever” that dominated the streets of China during his childhood, yet were out of his, and many others’, price range.

The bikes are connected and arranged in a seemingly disorderly manner, yet this pattern of partially tessellating bicycles is repeated 11 times, with each iteration being equidistant from the next. From certain angles, the density of the sculpture obscures the cycle motif and the artwork is instead perceived as a metal mesh. However, this isn’t putting off Bike Austin, which says it will be incorporating the sculpture into the daily cycle routes.

Forever Bicycles is actually one of two Weiwei works that now fall under the Museum Without Walls program. The second, titled Iron Tree Trunk, is located at the museum’s Betty and Edward Marcus Sculpture Park at Laguna Gloria and sees a replica dead tree trunk rise 15 feet.

On a visit to the Chinese town of Jingdezhen, Weiwei observed how locals trade dry wood by basing the value on the wood’s form and general aesthetic. This inspired Weiwei to experiment with wood in a large-scale format. By 2009, he was exhibiting works that used twisted timber, and Iron Tree Trunk, conceived in 2015, continues this thought. The sculpture uses the remains of a large tree that have been pieced together to form a new “tree” that, at a glance, looks as if it is from oxidized iron.

“With beautiful and outspoken conceptual work fused to his own larger-than-life persona, Ai Weiwei has become one of the most important artists working today,” said Louis Grachos, executive director of The Contemporary Austin in a statement. “And his relevance is only deepening given the current political climate in the United States and throughout the world.”