NEW YORK, NY.-
This spring, multiple disciplinary artist Sanford Biggers transforms Rockefeller Center with several public art exhibitions, including the highly anticipated monumental Oracle sculpture. Presented by Art Production Fund and Rockefeller Center, in partnership with Marianne Boesky Gallery, and several years in the making, Biggers is the first artist invited by Rockefeller Center for a multimedia survey exhibition campus wide from May 5 to June 29, 2021.
The 25-foot bronze sculpture titled Oracle, commissioned by Art Production Fund for installation at the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Channel Gardens, is the cornerstone of Biggers takeover and welcomes visitors to the installation. Oracle is a continuation of Biggers recent Chimera sculptures, a series of figurative sculptures created by combining African masks and European figures that explore historical depictions of the body and their subsequent myths, narratives, perceptions, and power. This sculpture is the artists largest-scale commission to date.
Biggers is intrigued by the recent scholarship about the academic and historical white-washing of classical Greco-Roman sculpture simultaneously intersecting with the early twentieth century black-washing of various African sculptural objects. The Chimera sculptures specifically challenge the associated cultural and aesthetic assumptions about their source material while acknowledging the often-dubious origins of the original objects themselves.
This first ever campus wide survey commissioned by Rockefeller Center includes the iconic Rockefeller Center flagpoles, with flags that feature a unique wave illustration designed by Biggers. The selected design represents the elements wind and water and evokes ideas of movement, transformation, and flow.
Biggers site-specific installations also are on view in both prominent and unexpected public locations throughout the campus including the vitrines at 45 Rockefeller Plaza. Small-scale Chimera sculptures have been staged with backdrops and film stills from Biggers' recent video works.
The murals displayed throughout the Rockefeller Center features Biggers Codex series, an ongoing series of mixed media paintings and sculptures done directly on or made from pre-1900 antique quilts. He considers his painted interventions on antique quilts to be a late-stage collaboration with their original creators. This body of work is deeply informed by American history and traditions. It sustains a rich dialog with contemporary art referencing urban culture, the body, sacred geometry, geometric abstraction, and American symbolism.
A 125-foot mural in the Centers concourse, Just Us, displays a clouded sky punctured with the words Just Us in transparent font, filled with another cloud view. Just Us both evokes justice and highlights an unnamed group us suggesting the multifaceted and nuanced nature of the idea of justice. Here the conflation of text and image questions notions of stability and consistency of meaning within language.
Sanford Biggers (b. 1970) was raised in Los Angeles and currently lives and works in New York City. He is the recipient of numerous awards; in 2021 he was awarded as deFINE Arts Honoree, in 2020 he was awarded a prestigious Guggenheim Fellowship; in 2019 he was inducted into the New York Foundation for the Arts Hall of Fame, in 2018 he received the American Academy of Arts and Letters Award and in 2017 he was presented the 2017 Rome Prize in Visual Arts. Most recently, he was appointed as Board President at Sculpture Center in October 2020. His museum solo exhibition titled Codeswitch was on view at The Bronx Museum of the Arts through April 2021. He has had solo exhibitions at the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis (2018), the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (2016), the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (2012) and the Brooklyn Museum (2011), among others. His work has been shown in several institutional group exhibitions including at the Menil Collection (2008) and the Tate Modern (2007), and recent exhibitions at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2017) and the Barnes Foundation (2017). Biggers work is held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the Walker Center, Minneapolis; the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Washington D.C.; the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; and the Legacy Museum, Montgomery, among others.