One’s perception of Nick Hornby’s sculpture literally depends on perspective: using computer algorithms, he cross-pollinates distinctive, often contrasting forms to mesmerising effect. His largest work to date, a 5m tall, Corten steel piece, resembles Michelangelo’s David from one angle, and a line from a 1925 Kandinsky drawing when seen from another. The combination of the most recognisable of Renaissance artworks with an excerpt from one of the past century’s greatest abstract artists is visually arresting as well as thought-provoking – speaking to the entwinement of figuration and abstraction, old and (somewhat) new. It also takes an impressive feat of engineering to steady the gravity-defying form. Titled Twofold, the sculpture was commissioned for the city of Harlow, a new town in Essex with a robust public art collection that has often flown under the radar. Joining the work of Rodin, Hepworth and Chadwick among others, Twofold is a testament to the imagination and finesse of one of contemporary Britain’s most thrilling sculptural talents.
British sculptor Conrad Shawcross’ latest public commission, Bicameral, is a striking sight at the new luxury housing complex of Chelsea Barracks. Three years in the works, the eight-metre tall tree-shaped sculpture draws on the botanical heritage of Belgravia and the nearby Physic Garden. The structure is pieced together using hundreds of three-pronged anodised aluminium components like bits of Meccano decreasing in scale towards the extremities of the branches. The idea taps into the characteristics of Japanese joinery by using no glue or welding and secured only by dowel joints and intelligent engineering. The sculpture’s branches are split into two halves, channelling the concepts in The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, a book by Julian Jaynes. ‘The sculpture is a progression of bifurcating and trifurcating elements that fan out from a stem loosely forming two hemispheres or sides,’ Shawcross explains.
Yayoi Kusama breezed into Paris this week, with a major public artwork conceived specifically for the Place Vendôme as part of FIAC Hors les Murs. But, shortly after its unveiling, the artwork was taken down due to high winds in Paris this week. Presented in collaboration by her galleries Victoria Miro, David Zwirner and Ota Fine Arts, the 10m-tall Life of the Pumpkin Recites, All About the Biggest Love for the People was the 90-year-old Japanese artist’s largest inflatable pumpkin sculpture to date.
‘The best weapon is to sit down and talk,’ Nelson Mandela once famously said. This historic quote is the inspiration behind a ‘peach bench’ designed by architecture firm Snøhetta, installed in the plaza of the United Nations headquarters. The arching bench pays tribute to past Nobel Peace Prize laureates, while encouraging passersby to engage in conversation and social intimacy. Produced by Vestre in a completely carbon-neutral process, the 6.5m long installation is made from the world’s greenest aluminium, care of Norwegian renewable energy firm Hydro. The Best Weapon – first unveiled on Nelson Mandela Day (18 July) – will remain at the United Nations Plaza until 15 October, after which it will be transported to Norway to a permanent location near the Nobel Peace Center and the Oslo City Hall, where the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded annually.
Marking Towner Art Gallery’s 10th anniversary, German artist Lothar Götz has given the Eastbourne institution a Technicolor treatment in the form of a vivid geometric mural on its façade. Incorporating the gallery’s unique exterior recesses and alcoves, Götz’s mural – his largest to date – wraps the length and width of three sides of the Rick Mather Architects-designed building with paint supplied by local company Brewers Decorator Centres. The commission, which coincides with the launch of the £54m redevelopment of Eastbourne’s Devonshire Quarter, will be in situ for one year.
Apple is teaming up with New York’s New Museum on an art-based augmented reality project with projects from artists Nick Cave, Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg, Cao Fei, John Giorno, Carsten Höller and Pipilotti Rist (whose work is pictured here). Launching on 10 August and running until at least the end of the year, ten people at a time, armed with an iPhone, the [AR]T app and headphones, will be lead by an Apple team member in each city around six interactive displays or pieces, each lasting five to ten minutes. The initiative also includes an in-store session that teaches the basics of creating AR using Swift Playgrounds and an AR art installation viewable in every Apple Store worldwide. Read more here.
Dive into Joana Vasconcelos’ dazzling – and fully functional – swimming pool at Jupiter Artland on the outskirts of Edinburgh, where a former livestock space has been transformed into an immersive installation. Vasconcelos has incorporated patterns from her own astrological chart into the design of the artwork, which comprises 11,366 hand-painted and glazed tiles crafted using traditional methods at a 100-year-old factory in the artist’s native Portugal. With Gateway, the artist invites visitors ‘to immerse in a joyful and spirited dimension, leading to a connection with the energy of the earth’. Vasconcelos muses, ‘It’s like a threshold to another universe that we’re not conscious of but through which we can flow.’ Between 29 July – 22 August, guests will be able to take a dip in Gateway and experience the sculpture park’s latest permanent commission from a new angle.
The English Gardens at Regent’s Parks have once again been transformed ‘into a museum without walls’, says Frieze London artistic director Jo Stella-Sawicka, ahead of the art fair in October. More than 20 artists were plucked from a gallery open call to exhibit at this year’s Frieze Sculpture, among them Tracey Emin, Robert Indiana, Tom Sachs, and Lucy Skaer. Highlights include a full-size reproduction of a 1973 Jaguar E-Type Matchbox toy car by Brazilian artist Vik Muniz, and a 3m tall bronze work by Huma Bhabha that riffs on ancient sculpture and sci-fi. Pictured, Superhero Cog Woman, 2019, by LR Vandy.
The mid-19th century tradition of en plein air painting is getting a modern makeover in a group exhibition of new commissions by Daniel Buren, Sam Falls, Ei Arakwa, Lubaina Himid, Lara Schnitger, Vivian Suter and Ryan Sullivan. Spanning the length of the park, the free-standing works expand on the mid-19th century practice of en plein air painting, not only bringing painting outdoors but harnessing nature as context, subject and collaborator. The works will remain in situ until March 2020. Pictured, 19.604692°N 72.218596°W, 2019, by Firelei Báez.
Doug Aitken’s ranch-style mirrored houses have surfaced in the Palm Springs desert and a former Detroit bank. Now, the American artist is taking to the Swiss Alps with the latest iteration of his architectural intervention. Every available surface of the structure has been clad in mirror, both absorbing and reflecting the verdant surrounds, while the interiors offer a kaleidoscopic perspective. The installation was part of the third edition of Elevation 1049: Frequencies, a three-day art festival hosted annually in the resort town of Gstaad in February. But Mirage Gstaad will remain open to intrepid alpine wanderers for multiple seasons. Get the recipe for Aitken’s Neuchâtel fondue here.
A ten-strong ensemble of Antony Gormley’s Blockworks sculptures is holding court outside of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, while it undergoes a renovation by Frank Gehry. ‘Like standing stones, these works are markers in space, but I would also like them to engage the viewer’s time,’ says the artist. ‘Here is sculpture, not statue; less hero or ideal, more material and real: a public declaration of subjective identity.’ The rough cast-iron pillars, placed at regular intervals across the museum’s East Terrace, invites viewers to both project and recognise their own identities in the humanoid stacks of blocks.
Artist Alicja Biala and architect Iwo Borkowicz have erected six towering wooden totem poles beneath the MVDVR-design Bałtyk building in Poznań, in a jubilant protest against climate change. The colours and form were diligently made by hand, with help from local woodworkers, students, politicians, activists, and other members of the community, with regular events and workshops throughout the process. Each of the 9m tall totems correlate to different statistics visualising relationship between human and natural forces. The sculptures are stamped with an individual QR code, which after scanning reveals a webpage deconstructing the meaning of its proportions. ‘We wanted to address the public at large, and at an everyday level,’ says Biala. ‘Passersby on the street and tram will catch out of the corner of their eye a flash of strong colours and be reminded of the current state of our world.’
Polish-American architect Daniel Libeskind is disrupting a 17th-century baroque garden in the Netherlands with a series of monumental sculptures as a protest to climate change. The ‘Garden of Earthly Worries’ consists of four abstract works that create an imbalance within the manicured garden, designed in its time to represent man’s perfection of nature. Each of the 3m tall structures – fragments of a globe – represent different chemical compounds that contribute to our changing climate. ‘We can no longer distinguish if nature is culture, or culture is nature,’ says Libeskind. Read more here.
Blain Southern gallery is returning for its second summer sojourn at Hotel du Cap-Eden-Roc in the French Riviera, this time bringing a series of monumental sculptures by Anthony Cragg. The totems in this exhibition form part of two larger groups of work, Early Form and Rational Beings, which the artist has been developing since the 1990s. The works (pictured, Tommy, 2013, fibreglass) derive their forms from the contours of gestural drawings, which Cragg then realises three-dimensionally using hefty, circular or oval discs which are superimposed (often vertically), glued together and then covered with a ‘skin’. The underlying structure of these sculptures gives their skin the tension of a membrane, reflecting the basic structures of many organisms, organs, plants and animals.
The inauguration of Torre – a monumental white concrete building by Rem Koolhaas with Chris van Duijn and Federico Pompignoli from OMA – last year marked the completion of the Prada Foundation complex in a former distillery. And while visitors may flock to the six levels of exhibition spaces, it is worth scaling the 60m high tower to the rooftop terrace, where a hypnotic, eye-bending installation awaits. The terrace flooring features an optical illusion in black and white, made using porcelain stoneware tiles from Lea Ceramiche’s Absolute collection. Mirrors at the edge of the terrace remove the visual barrier between the rooftop space and the panoramic vistas of Milan.
When Studio Swine’s ‘breathing’ sculpture first huffed and puffed into life at Eden Project in 2017, it put the Cornwall institution on the map as a budding destination for contemporary art. Since then its permanent collection has come into full bloom, most recently with new sculptural additions by Ryan Gander and Jenny Kendler, installed in the grounds alongside works from Julian Opie and Tim Shaw that arrived earlier in the year. Gander’s sculpture, To employ the mistress.... It’s a French toff thing (2015), is a marble drinking fountain fabricated in the likeness of his wife Rebecca, leaning in for a kiss with the artist, and playfully spitting water.
New York-based artist Tauba Auerbach transformed the historic Fireboat John J Harvey into a dazzle ship, putting a contemporary spin on the optical patterns conceived by British painter Norman Wilkinson during the First World War to confuse enemy submarine radars. Auerbach created her design for the surface of the boat through the process of marbling paper, floating inks on a fluid bath and combing the surface to create various wake patterns before transferring them on to paper. The fireboat also flies a flag diagramming ‘flow separation’ — the phenomenon when areas of fluid in a wake move backwards, creating eddies. The work was co-commissioned by New York’s Public Art Fund, and 14-18 NOW, a UK-led arts programme marking the centenary of the First World War.
In 2011, London-based Phillip King was commissioned by Christ’s College, Cambridge, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the pioneering biologist Charles Darwin’s birth. The interlocking composition comprises three shapes working together to represent concepts beyond their physical forms: the oval for evolution, the triangle a nod to the young character of Darwin, and the square as a gateway or window for the external world. More recently, a new iteration of King’s monumental painted steel sculpture has now emerged in retail complex Taikoo Hui – fittingly evolving in tribute to its namesake.
Chatsworth has worked with Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele to bring American artist Rachel Feinstein to the property as its 2019 artist in residence. Feinstein – a sculptor whose broad influences include Renaissance painting, contemporary cartoons and Roman ruins – created a new commission for the Grotto, entitled Britannia. The life-size figure, named after the Roman mythological figure that represents the British Isles, was made in tandem with the Nymphenburg porcelain factory in Munich, Germany. Overlooking the Grotto Pond, the whimsical Rococo Hut (detail pictured) has been magicked up. The white powder-coated aluminium structure, adorned with silkscreen-type applications, recalls a castle from a pop-up storybook. The sculpture is part of Feinstein’s Folly series, which connects strongly to the Grotto – itself a garden folly. The artworks conceived during her residency will remain on view for five years.
Delhi-based installation artist and designer is tapping into his inner child with a bouquet of balloons in the Dubai Creek Harbour – the location of what will be the world’s tallest tower when completed in 2020. Standing 30ft tall and crafted in mirror-finished stainless steel, the polished spheres – simply titled Joy – reflect the ever-changing environment around them as the passersby catch a glimpse of themselves in it.
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