art news & reviews & Interviews. jeff bergman, editor

Seventh – Lever House

Back when I started to work in Midtown I began to notice public (or nearly public) art all over.  The ever changing installations along Park Avenue, the IBM Building’s Garden Plaza Atrium, 9 W 57th Street and my favorite, the Lever House on Park Avenue.  It is a classic building by Bunshaft that has often been imitated and looks across Park at its modern compatriot, the Seagrams building.

The Mezzanine level has a beautiful black and white Sol LeWitt Wall Drawing (#999 from 2001) hiding in plain site.  Just step into the courtyard, look up and it reveals itself.  The lobby area serves as a glass walled gallery jutting out towards Park Avenue.  A few years back they had an ethereal Tara Donovan sculpture that garnered high praise. Its courtyard has hosted many sculptures including a Virgin Mother Hirst bronze, Tom Sachs Hello Kittys and currently a Bruce High Quality Foundation 12 foot high “union rat” entitled The New Colossus.  The bronzed rat has its obvious connotations and I won’t say love the piece itself, but I do love that they are showing it on Park Avenue.  The rat itself is menacing and, cast in bronze, provides this modern and clean showcase with a surprisingly grotesque gargoyle.  Clearly union laborers had to install the statue and will have to de-install it as well.  Ah, to be a fly on that glass wall.

The Bruce High Quality Foundation collective curates exhibitions, has a University (unaccredited) offering critiques and classes, and occasionally makes art (it seems).  The painting that hangs in the lobby with assorted janitorial ready-made sculptures is a Warholian look at Iwo Jima.  The sculptures play video and audio related to Martin Luther’s (the other one) 95 Theses.  It looks and feels like a collective effort.  Certainly this could be the resulting mashup by students digesting a course reader focused on Foucault and Benjamin with a splash of Danto.  It is a collaborative installation treatise on treatises (should it be treatisii?).  Still, Kudos to the mega-collector/property baron Aby Rosen for keeping it interesting in his exhibition space.

I truly wish there was a useful and usable resource for NYC public art mapping.  NYC-Arts does a nice job of keeping up with the temporary ones. The WikiProject Public Art is a new resource as of 2009.  It seems mostly in planning stages for now.  I didn’t know it existed until it was mentioned here in a Times post about asking the public to help catalog the public sculpture work of Tony Smith. My favorite quote in a long time reads “We live in a world where every single one of the more than 500 television episodes of ‘The Simpsons’ has a well-researched Wikipedia article devoted to it, but by comparison there is practically no information about many of the greatest artworks of the 20th century,” said Richard McCoy.”

Personally, I couldn’t be happier that I will soon live in a world that has both!

If anyone has better resources for public art in New York or elsewhere, please let me know and I will share with the group!

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