2014 Jeff Koons: Split-Rocker

June 25 – September 12, 2014

This summer, Jeff Koons's Split-Rocker makes its New York City debut at Rockefeller Center, to coincide with the opening of his retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art. Presented by Gagosian Gallery and organized by Public Art Fund and Tishman Speyer, Split-Rocker is a spectacular planted form that towers over 37 feet high and features over 50,000 flowering plants. It was first exhibited at Palais des Papes, Avignon in 2000; and subsequently at Château de Versailles (2008) and Fondation Beyeler (2012). It is also in the collection of the Glenstone private museum in Potomac, Maryland, where it has been on view since June of 2013. Consistent with Koons's persistent fascination with dichotomy and the in-between, the inspiration for Split-Rocker came when he decided to split and combine two similar but different toy rockers, a pony belonging to his son and a dinosaur (“Dino”). The slippage or "split" between the different halves of the heads gives an almost Cubist aspect to the composition. As the model was enlarged to the scale of a small house, the split became an opening, a profile, and a light shaft. In contrast to his legendary Puppy of 1992, which was presented by Public Art Fund at Rockefeller Center in the summer of 2000, Split-Rocker suggests the idea of a fantasy shelter. Whereas the singular form of Puppy is closed and sculptural, the combined form of Split-Rocker is architectural and hollow.

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<p>Thomas Houseago’s new commission Masks (Pentagon) will be on view on the plaza April 28 – June 12. The exhibit, organized by Public Art Fund and Tishman Speyer, will be free and open to the public.</p> <p>Designed specifically for Rockefeller Plaza, Masks (Pentagon) consists of five masks ranging in height from 14.5 to 16.5 feet, each of which reflects a different approach to the stylized representation of the human face, from the clearly recognizable to the highly abstracted. As each colossal face looks out towards the surrounding cityscape, the spaces between them become “doorways” that give access to an interior “room”. From inside, the mask’s eyes will create windows that frame views of the landscape and skyscrapers of Midtown Manhattan.</p> <p>The five masks, which were cast from clay in industrial-strength synthetic plaster, stand on a stepped base made from massive beams of unfinished redwood. The back of each element of the sculpture reveals the artists method of construction – a grid-like armature of rebar inlaid with hemp and plaster. The resulting five-sided form might be compared to that of an archaic temple, the ritual function of which has been lost in time.</p> <p>“In this piece I wanted to bring the activity and the feel of the studio into public space as an experience. The public gets to “see” the work both from the outside as an image but then also from the inside as an insight into its construction. It becomes a kind of retreat from the city but also a porous viewing space. The public becomes part of the experience of looking and also an integral part of the work,” said artist Thomas Houseago. </p>
2015 Thomas Houseago: Masks (Pentagon)