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Mark Manders' largest single cast bronze sculpture opens at entrance to Central Park
Mark Manders, Tilted Head, 2015-18. Patinated bronze. Courtesy the artist, Zeno X Gallery, Antwerp and Tanya Bonakdar Gallery New York / Los Angeles. Photo: Jason Wyche, Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY.

NEW YORK, NY.- On March 6, Public Art Fund debuted Tilted Head, a monumental new sculpture by Dutch artist Mark Manders commissioned for Doris C. Freedman Plaza at the southeast entrance to Central Park. Parkgoers will encounter a 13-foot-tall androgynous, detached human head in classical repose, seemingly made of drying moldable clay, but actually cast in bronze. The archetypally minimalist head is mysteriously incomplete, missing a third or more of its form, and is accompanied by remnants of cast bronze objects that appear left behind as if the sculpture was abandoned in the studio, frozen in time. With Tilted Head, tensions are evident throughout: the serenity of the face is countered by the disruption of the cracking surface, figurative representation veers towards abstraction of form. Timelessness and specificity meet, allowing viewers to project their own meaning and construct their own narratives about this colossal bodily fragment. Tilted Head is the artist’s largest single cast bronze sculpture to date and brings Manders’ highly distinctive style to an outdoor exhibition in New York for the first time. Mark Manders: Tilted Head will be on view March 6 – September 1, 2019 in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park.

“In a world where cultural fashions change at lightning speed and our collective desire for the latest trend dominates, the art of Mark Manders strikes a subtly resistant note,” says Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. “His vision is intensely personal, anchored in a conceptual framework that he has labored to construct throughout his career, to which every new piece contributes a key element. Both ageless and contemporary, both placid and violent, his work manages to hold contradictory impulses in suspension, offering us an arresting visual poetry.”

Tilted Head continues the artist’s longstanding tradition of manipulating material to create new form and highlights the contingency of materials themselves. To realize this work, Manders began with an intensive process of research and drawings; he then molded the work in clay and used an ancient lost-wax technique that dates back to 4500 – 3500 BCE to cast the entire work in bronze. A patina was then applied to the work to create the appearance of unfired clay – a trompe l’oeil effect that is a hallmark of many of his works. Additional details further the mysterious narrative already present in the work: beams of wood appear to bandage the diagonal slice of the head, while cast chairs and a closed suitcase seem to prop up the sculpture on its “unfinished” side, as if improvised or abandoned in the studio.

“All of my work is an ode to the fictional,” says Mark Manders. “My choice of materials stands in contrast to the illusion created by the finish of the sculpture – while bronze and wood are durable and permanent, the appearance of wet clay suggests temporality and transition. It is my hope that in creating an enigmatic narrative and by placing this seemingly unfinished sculpture at the southeast entrance to Central Park, viewers will question the nature of this work.”

For more than four decades, Manders’ multidisciplinary practice has blurred the boundaries between sculpture, architecture, drawing, and installation. He utilizes language and objects as a way to explore the potential of narrative and meaning, with subject matter often relating to classical genres: human figures that resemble Ancient (Egyptian or Greek) sculpture in their stylized perfection or busts that evoke the idealized form of a Renaissance marble. Since 1986 he has been developing a metaphorical self-portrait in the form of his monumental project Self-Portrait as a Building, in which he envisions his sculptures to be analogous to the spaces within a growing house. Most recently, his practice has turned to a new series of tilted head sculptures that explore the effects of shifting scale. His Tilted Head for Central Park is the largest and most ambitious in the series to date.

Mark Manders: Tilted Head is curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume.

Mark Manders (b. 1968, Volkel, the Netherlands) lives and works in Ronse, Belgium. As one of the Netherlands’ most accomplished contemporary artists, Manders is well-known throughout Europe for his sculptural practice that balances ambiguous tensions and classical sensibilities. He attended the School of Graphic Design in Eindhoven and the Arnhem Academy of Art and Design. Solo exhibitions of his work have been presented at the Musée Carré d’Art, Nîmes, France (2012); Carillo Gil Museum of Art, Mexico City (2011); Berkeley Art Museum, California (2005); Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (2005); Art Institute of Chicago and Renaissance Society, Chicago (2003); and Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, the Netherlands (2002), among others. In 2010, Manders’ first American exhibition traveled from the Hammer Museum in Los Angeles to the Aspen Museum of Art, the Walker Art Center in Minneapolis, and the Dallas Museum of Art. In 2013, he represented the Netherlands at the Venice Biennale.

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