Major new public art initiative at Rockefeller Center to feature Paulo Nazareth, Sarah Sze, Hank Willis Thomas and many more
14 international artists have been announced for the launch of Frieze Sculpture in New York, presented at Rockefeller Center in partnership with Tishman Speyer.
Curator Brett Littman (Director of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum in Long Island City, New York) has selected and placed new and significant works by 14 international artists; all presented by world-leading galleries. Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center will open April 25 through June 28, 2019.
The selected artists participating in the inaugural New York edition of Frieze Sculpture are: Nick Cave, Aaron Curry, Jose Dávila, Walter De Maria, Rochelle Goldberg, Goshka Macuga, Ibrahim Mahama, Joan Miró, Paulo Nazareth, Jaume Plensa, Pedro Reyes, Kiki Smith, Sarah Sze, and Hank Willis Thomas.
Paulo Nazareth’s first public artwork in New York will memorialize pivotal figures and moments of the Civil Rights movement, with large aluminium cut-outs of Tommie Smith, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., and Ruby Bridges.
A new commission for Frieze Sculpture, Jaume Plensa’s monumental portrait Behind the Walls (2019) will be a powerful statement about individual responsibility today.
Nick Cave’s oversized bronze gramophone grows from his raised fist, suggesting the power to activate change.
While Hank Willis Thomas frames public spaces for conversation, reflection and agency, with his brightly coloured, comic book-inspired speech bubbles and benches.
Ibrahim Mahama’s commission, which replaces the 192 flags of the U.N. around the Rockefeller Center skating rink with 50 handmade jute flags fabricated in Ghana, will be a reminder of the extreme income and resource disparities that exist around the world.
And Rochelle Goldberg’s sculptures, which look like a menagerie from an apocalyptic Noah’s Ark, will give us a glimpse into what a post-ecological reality might look like.
Frieze Sculpture will encourage exploration of the whole campus, including its interior spaces, and hidden histories. Mexican artist Pedro Reyes’ artworks Jaguar and Seer will be placed inside 30 Rockefeller Plaza, where Diego Rivera’s original mural was removed in 1934 because it included an image of Vladimir Lenin, and was replaced with Jose Maria Sert’s American Progress (1937). Thus visitors will be invited to witness a major historical moment of censorship. Inspired by Pre-Columbian sculpture, ancient mythology and synesthetic connections, Jaguar and Seer also represent Reyes’ first public sculptures in New York.
Similarly exploring ancient themes while questioning recent art history, Jose Dávila will make his New York debut with Joint Effort (2019), which merges natural stone with modern concrete to create a symbolic totem linking Heaven and Earth.
Nearby, Sarah Sze’s Split Stone (7:34) (2018) will present a natural boulder cut open to reveal a generic image of a sunset, which Sze captured on her iPhone, alluding to Chinese scholar’s rocks and the materiality of time.
Aaron Curry, who is also known for his unusual combinations of materials, textures, scales, colors and forms, will present Metnedaruth (2009/2014), which recalls Noguchi’s interlocking work from the 1940s; while the iconic Modernist Joan Miró’s Porte II (1974) points to Cubist and pro-Surrealist sculptural ideas about form and process.
Littman has chosen the lobby of 10 Rockefeller Center, which once housed the offices of Eastern Airlines, for Goshka Macuga’s portrait heads of Yuri Gagarin, the first Russian astronaut and Stephen Hawking, the great astrophysicist. In conversation with the large-scale mural by Dean Cromwell called The Story of Transportation (1946), Macuga’s installation will be a conceptual homage to travel, and additionally represents the artist’s first public siting in New York.
Inside the marble lobby of One Rockefeller Plaza, Walter De Maria’s three stainless steel sculptures entitled Truth/Beauty will be in conversation with Carl Milles’ original Rockefeller commission, Man and Nature (1941). By pairing Milles and De Maria, visitors will see man, nature, truth and beauty all in one place.
And outside, Kiki Smith’s Rest Upon (2009/2016) – a life-sized bronze sculpture of a lamb on top of a sleeping woman – lies on the floor in the walkway between the two channel gardens, as a powerful, figurative symbol exploring the relationship between humanity and the natural world.
Rockefeller Center was conceived by John D. Rockefeller as a “city within a city” and a “mecca for lovers of art.” Each day, hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers and visitors pass through its public spaces, where some of the world’s most recognizable artworks include the Prometheus and Atlas sculptures, and Jose Maria Sert and Sir Frank Brangwyn’s majestic murals at 30 Rockefeller Plaza, as well as, fittingly, Isamu Noguchi’s News (1940), commissioned for the Associated Press building.
Frieze Sculpture New York 2019
Nick Cave presented by Jack Shainman Gallery
Aaron Curry presented by Michael Werner Gallery
Jose Dávila presented by Sean Kelly
Walter De Maria presented by Gagosian Gallery
Rochelle Goldberg presented by Miguel Abreu Gallery
Goshka Macuga presented by Andrew Kreps Gallery
Ibrahim Mahama presented by White Cube
Joan Miró presented by Acquavella Galleries
Paulo Nazareth presented by Mendes Wood DM
Jaume Plensa presented by Richard Gray Gallery and Galerie Lelong
Pedro Reyes presented by Lisson Gallery
Kiki Smith presented by Pace
Sarah Sze presented by Gagosian
Hank Willis Thomas presented by Jack Shainman Gallery
Listen below to curator Brett Littman talk about basing the selection of works for Frieze Sculpture on Isamu Noguchi’s “News”.
Main image: Pedro Reyes, Seer, 2018. © Pedro Reyes. Courtesy: Lisson Gallery, London