New York - In July, many wandering noticed the colorfully robust sculptures of Niki de Saint Phalle lining Park Avenue and now, The Seagram has followed suit with an outdoor exhibition of four monumental sculptures by the late artist John Chamberlain. This isn’t The Seagram’s first outdoor exhibition in their plaza; one may recall Urs Fischer’s Giant Yellow Teddy Bear from 2011. Nor is this Chamberlain’s first exhibition at The Seagram; in 1984 his work “American Tableau”, a colossal automotive steel piece, was displayed in The Seagram’s Plaza.
Presented by the Gagosian Gallery, on view currently in The Seagram Plaza are "PINEAPPLESUNRISE" (2010), "MERMAIDMISCHIEF" (2009), "ROBUSTFAGGOTTO" (2008), and "FROSTYDICKFANTASY" (2008); that were produced in the latter part of Chamberlain’s sixty-year career. Soaring up to fifteen feet tall, the four playfully twisted sculptures are constructed from silver, green and copper industrial aluminum. The aluminum material has a reflective and texturized surface that respond to changes in the atmosphere, altering the overall appearance of each sculpture. Therefore, depending on the time of the day, light plays a pivotal role in adding another dimension to exploring these quirky wonders. Additionally, the backdrop of The Seagram Building, Mies van der Rohe’s streamlined geometric architecture (1954-58), enhances the spontaneous nature of Chamberlain’s sculptures.
These full-scale aluminum sculptures deviate from Chamberlain’s signature body of work- scrap automotive metal sculptures- and originated from his experimentation with creating small-scale household foil forms in the shape of ropes, and tentacles. In 2007, Chamberlain transformed these miniatures into grand versions of flexed industrial aluminum, which have been intricately tangled into eccentric yet cohesive biomorphic forms. The titles of these sculptures, the capitalization, puns and nonsensical words, also seem to speak to their whimsical nature. Chamberlain had a longtime interest in combining word play with offbeat humor; evident in the sexual innuendos suggested by the works entitled, “FROSTYDICKFANTASY” and “MERMAIDMISCHIEF”. While, his work “ROBUSTFAGGOTTO”, a work included in the recent Guggenheim retrospective, is a play on the Italian word “fagotto” which was Renaissance instrument similar to the bassoon and “robust” is commonly used to describe woodwind performances.
John Chamberlain’s sculptures at Park Avenue’s Seagram Building will be on view from August 10th until November 16th
Art - Exhibitions
by Laura Stewart | Saturday, 18 August 2012