Press Release

Announcing Artists Participating in the Inaugural New York Edition of Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center®

New York, NY
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14 International artists including Goshka Macuga, Ibrahim Mahama, Joan Miró, Paulo Nazareth, Sarah Sze and Hank Willis Thomas will feature in a Major New Public Art Initiative, Curated by Brett Littman and Presented with Leading Galleries

Today Frieze announces the selected artists 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. Including many artists showing public sculpture in New York for the first time, Frieze Sculpture will represent Rockefeller Center’s largest display of artwork to date and create a major new public art initiative at the heart of Manhattan, with free admission to all. The launch of Frieze Sculpture in New York follows its establishment in London’s Regent’s Park, where a free summer display of more than 20 sculptures and installations welcomes millions of visitors each year. Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center will open April 26 in the lead-up to Frieze New York and will remain on view and open to all 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.

Loring Randolph (Artistic Director, Frieze Americas) said: “Frieze Sculpture will represent a new public space initiative for Frieze New York, hosting a series of sculptural ideas which comment on the instability of our time. The Rockefeller family were major patrons of their age, with a history of commissioning artworks by forward-thinking artists for all to enjoy. I’m thrilled that Brett’s thought-provoking selection of artworks will continue this progressive tradition, while offering an unprecedented opportunity for Frieze galleries to showcase their programs in a historic, much-loved, and bustling New York City site.”

Curator Brett Littman said: “Frieze Sculpture this year will be an immersive campus-wide installation that is responsive to the architecture of Rockefeller Plaza – one of the most important art deco spaces in the world – and Isamu Noguchi’s seminal bas-relief News (1940) which celebrates freedom of expression. Featuring 14 artists from across four continents, the selected artworks respond to our global political moment. Human in scale and including many artists who have not placed public sculpture in the city before, Frieze Sculpture will also suggest new possibilities for sculpture in New York and the contemporary world.”

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. 

EB Kelly, Tishman Speyer Managing Director overseeing Rockefeller Center, said: “Public art and architecture are fundamental to the identity of Rockefeller Center, and each year we strive to create new ways that art can help visitors experience the Center and also never repeat what we’ve done. This year, we’re thrilled to present Frieze Sculpture, a free, curated programme of 20 artworks, larger than any public art installation that’s been displayed here and hope New Yorkers and guests will come back again and again to see the incredible works of acclaimed and emerging artists.” 

Michaella Solar-March, Tishman Speyer Managing Director overseeing Marketing and Experience for Rockefeller Center, said: “Frieze is synonymous with cutting-edge contemporary art, and presents a natural partnership for Rockefeller Center. Sculpture at Rockefeller Center is not just about displaying incredible works of art, but bringing individual pieces, purposefully selected by curator Brett Littman, to be shown in specific locations around the Center. This year’s line-up provides a full indoor and outdoor gallery experience for all.” 

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 largescale 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.

Participating Artists and Galleries, 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

Goshka Macuga | Presented by Andrew Kreps

Ibrahim Mahama | Presented by White Cube

Joan Miró | Presented by Acquavella Galleries

Paolo 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 Gallery

Hank Willis Thomas | Presented by Jack Shainman Gallery

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