Internationally renowned conceptual artist Roxy Paine exhibits three stainless steel sculptures—Conjoined, Defunct and Erratic—in Madison Square Park. Roxy Paine’s long interest in the juxtaposition of nature and industrialization has brought form to an extensive body of work. From his mushroom and plant fields to his art-making machines and large-scale metal trees, Paine continues to see nature through an industrial prism. Through work that combines the organic with the manufactured, he questions our position between the man-made world that we control and nature’s world that we do not.
The artist is engaged in an ongoing ambitious body of work: the creation of large stainless-steel tree sculptures, ranging in height from 12 to 55 feet. These complex works are fabricated from up to 7000 metal pipe and rod elements, in 30 different diameters, are assembled through the rigorous tasks of cutting, bending, tacking, welding, grinding and polishing. This industrial process is central to the work. The trees have been placed in numerous important public collections across the United States and Europe, including the Olympic Sculpture Park in Seattle, the St. Louis Art Museum and the Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery at the University of Nebraska.
Conjoined is a 40-feet-tall sculpture of two trees whose branches cantilever in space and connect in mid air. Paine creates two different tree species with each branch of one joining to a branch of the other. For the observer, it is unclear where one tree begins and the other ends. Conjoined, with its gleaming steel branches and improbable marriage of two species, embodies man’s complex relationship with the empirical and utopian. As Ralph Waldo Emerson writes, “We want the Exact and the Vast; we want our Dreams, and our Mathematics.”
Defunct is a 42-feet-tall stainless steel sculpture of a dead or dying tree infiltrated with fungus. The trunk and limbs have deteriorated from disease or old age. The beauty of the once daunting, vibrant tree is shadowed by the growing rot and shelf fungus. The death of the tree has given life to the fungus. Defunct, a meditation on loss and life, describes the symbiosis between industry and earth, between production and natural selection.
Paine’s Erratic is his newest transformation of a natural phenomenon. Erratic is a stainless steel boulder measuring 7 feet high by 15 feet wide. The term “erratic” refers to a rock that is found in an area where it bears little or no relationship to the underlying geology. Essentially, it is a boulder that has been carried by a glacier hundreds of miles away from its original geographic location. Erratic’s slick exterior leaves its origin unexplained. It is a boulder displaced from somewhere between a mountain and a steel factory.
About Roxy Paine
Roxy Paine was born in New York in 1966. He studied at both the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico and the Pratt Institute in New York. Since 1990, his work has been internationally exhibited and is included in major collections such as De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, Tilburg, The Netherlands; the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; the Israel Museum, Jerusalem; the Museum of Modern Art, New York: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Wanas Foundation, Knislinge, Sweden; and the Whitney Museum of American Art. Roxy Paine lives and works in Brooklyn and Treadwell, New York.
Support for this project was provided by Founding Partners: The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation, Agnes Gund & Daniel Shapiro, Jill & Peter Kraus and Anonymous. Additional support is provided by the Henry Luce Foundation, the Leucadia Foundation and the Toby Lewis Philanthropic Fund of the Jewish Community Foundation of Cleveland.
Additional support provided by Pierpaolo Barzan, Barbara Berger, Susi & Joe Berland, Jill & Jay Bernstein, James Cohan Gallery, Paul Frankel, Lisa & Stuart Ginsberg, Marianne & Sheldon Lubar, Sherry & Joel Mallin, Lester Marks, G. Allen Mebane, Isabel Moore, the Donald R. Mullen Family Foundation, Carol & Davis Noble, Paula K. & James Ohaus, Judith & Donald Rechler Foundation, the Speyer Family Foundation, David Teiger, Cricket & Marty Taplin, Alice & Thomas J. Tisch Foundation, Anabeth & John Weil, Mr. & Mrs. David K. Welles and Virginia & Bagley Wright.
Thanks to S. P. Belcher, Inc., Forest City Ratner Companies, Kreisler Borg Forman, Thornton Tomasetti and Urban Foundation/Engineering LLC. Special thanks to Russell Andersen, Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, David Berliner, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Aine Brazil, David Berliner, Manhattan Parks Commissioner William Castro, Joseph J. Entler, Boris Feigenbaum, Drew Freeman, Nikola Gottschick, First Deputy Mayor Patricia Harris, Antony Mazzo, Craig Leech, Lenny Naar, Joseph Rechichi, Bob Sanna, Paula Sher, Clare Weiss and Andrea Zlanabitnig.