Posted On: March 25, 2008

Tadashi Kawamata


Tadashi Kawamata’s Tree Huts is an artist-in-residency program culminating in a site-specific installation of twelve wooden huts built in the trees of Madison Square Park. The artist-in-residency program will invite visitors to witness, explore, and interpret the evolution of the first Mad. Sq. Art project to be entirely fabricated in situ, and Kawamata’s first public installation in New York City since his landmark Roosevelt Island Smallpox Hospital project in 1992. His public installations, known as “displacements,” are complex and chaotic architectural growths of raw lumber, found objects, and construction scraps that bloom around existing urban landscapes.

Playing upon the dialectics of construction and destruction that characterizes the life cycle of public space, Kawamata’s artistic practice is finely attuned to individual site. His building style is organic and improvisational, a unique synthesis of fine art, architecture, and sociological experiment.  Tree huts are an emerging focus of Kawamata’s work, a crystallization of his  interest in the architecture of shelter and in the insertion of private objects into public spaces. The exhibition  will mark the artist’s first exploration of this theme in North America following his tree hut exhibitions at Art Basel 2007, in Trondheim, Norway, as part of the Generator 2007 program and at Galerie Kamel Mennour in Paris, 2008.


About the Artist

Tadashi Kawamata was born in 1953 on the Japanese island of Hokaido. Since the early 1980s, his ambitious, site-specific sculptural installations have won him worldwide acclaim as one of the preeminent artists of the past two decades. Combining the disciplines of sculpture, installation art, and architecture with socio-historic and geographical research, Kawamata has made an international reputation by fashioning humble materials and found objects such as untreated lumber, chairs, barrels and construction scraps into poetic and transformative interventions in  public space. His “Project on Roosevelt Island” (1992), in which Kawamata surrounded the island’s derelict Smallpox Hospital building with a massive and complex web of simple wood scaffolding, remains one of the most well-known and highly-regarded solo public art works in New York City’s history. Kawamata’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions, both in Japan and abroad, most notably at the Venice Biennale (1982), Documenta VIII (1987), the São Paulo International Biennale (1987), Documenta XI (1992), the Contemporary Art Biennale in Lyon (1993), Exhibition for the 50th anniversary of the United Nations, Geneva (1995), Munster Skulptor Projekt (1997), Chapelle Saint-Louis de la Salpêtrière (1997), the eleventh Sydney Biennale (1998), the Echigo-Tsumari Art Triennial (2000), the fourth Shanghai Biennale (2002), the Busan Biennale (2002), and the Valencia Biennial (2003).

Tadashi Kawamata is represented by Mulier Mulier Gallery, Zoute, Belgium and Kamel Mennour Gallery, Paris, France.


Major support for Mad. Sq. Art is provided by Founding Partners Agnes Gund and Anonymous. Additional support is provided by Jill & Peter Kraus, Leucadia Foundation, and Henry Luce Foundation. Support for this project is provided by Asian Cultural Council, Japan Foundation, and Reed Foundation. This project is supported in part with public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.


The Architect’s Newspaper

Art in America

Sculpture Magazine

Further Information

Mulier Mulier Gallery

Galerie Kamel Mennour