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The New York Botanical Garden exhibits Philip Haas's monumental sculpture series Four Seasons
Philip Haas, Autumn and Winter. Painted fiberglass sculpture in situ at The New York Botanical Garden, 2013. Courtesy the artist and The New York Botanical Garden. Photo by Jodi Gibson.
NEW YORK, NY.- Internationally-renowned contemporary artist Philip Haas is the subject of a one person show, titled Four Seasons, at The New York Botanical Garden May 18–October 27, 2013. Haas’s work is distinguished by meticulously rendered tableaux seeking to illuminate the source of creativity, often through contemporary interpretations of masterworks from the history of art.

In Four Seasons, Haas has created four monumental, 15-foot-tall, portrait busts that reference each of the seasons and are displayed in the round. In the artist’s exploration of the past, reinterpreted in the present, Haas references classical Italian Renaissance portraiture, with roots in the celebrated Four Seasons series created by Renaissance master Giuseppe Arcimboldo. Haas gives viewers a fresh perspective on the classical form by blowing up the scale to colossal proportions. What has formerly been a two-dimensional experience—the painted portrait—is given new context through this series as viewers are able to walk around the sculptures, to see the subjects from all sides, rather than simply in profile as with a painting. Further, as in Arcimboldo’s work from the 1500s, flesh, hair, and human features have been replaced with organic material native to each season. In Winter, for example, the skin of the subject is represented through oversized forms of bark and hair by gnarled tree limbs and ivy. Spring features a riot of flower forms in bright hues arranged to represent a human portrait.

The placement of the four sculptures within the symmetrical courtyard of the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory has the busts facing one another in a square configuration, creating a dialog between not only the four “subjects,” but also the viewer who can walk around and in between the works, creating an involving and personal experience.

Haas comments, “Whether I’m working in painting, sculpture, or film, what fascinates me is the idea of transformation. Through the Four Seasons, I am re-contextualizing the world of classical Renaissance portraiture using the transformative elements of scale, material, and dimensionality, thereby altering the viewer’s perspective.”

The New York Botanical Garden Chief Executive Officer and The William C. Steere Sr. President Gregory Long states, “We are thrilled to present Philip Haas’s remarkable Four Seasons here at The New York Botanical Garden. This body of work is ideal for the garden as it speaks to the present, while reflecting on the past. The contemporary forms rooted in the history of art will resonate not only with our core audience but also those passionate about contemporary art.”

Haas, in marrying sculpture, painting, film, and architecture, has created a contemporary visual vocabulary all his own. He describes his process as “sculpting by thinking.” Haas’s groundbreaking artwork has been featured by museums including the National Gallery of Art (Washington DC), the Kimbell Art Museum (Fort Worth, Texas), Dulwich Picture Gallery (United Kingdom), and Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris). In the public realm, his work has been exhibited in the Piazza del Duomo (Milan) and the Gardens of Versailles (France). He is the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship, as well as other awards. He has taught in the visual arts and creative writing programs at Princeton University. He
lives and works in New York and London.

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