Pace Gallery announces installation of monumental Joel Shapiro sculpture at the historic IBM Building

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Pace Gallery announces installation of monumental Joel Shapiro sculpture at the historic IBM Building
Installation view of untitled (1996-1999) at 590 Madison.

NEW YORK, NY.- Pace Gallery announced the installation of a large-scale bronze sculpture (untitled, 1996-1999) by Joel Shapiro at 590 Madison, the IBM Building, in Midtown Manhattan, New York. Replacing the Alexander Calder stabile Saurien (1975) that was in place for over 20 years, Shapiro’s work will be on public view at the front entrance of the building at the corner of 57th Street and Madison Avenue. On long-term loan, Shapiro’s sculpture brings a renewed energy to one of New York City’s most dynamic office buildings and streetscapes. The installation is co-organized with Edward J. Minskoff, with whom Pace has maintained a decades-long relationship that stems from a shared belief in the transformative power of public art and the intrinsic relationship between art and architecture.

One of America’s foremost contemporary sculptors with more than 30 publicly sited sculptures around the world, Shapiro has continually pushed the boundaries of sculptural form over the course of his 50-year career, developing a body of work distinguished by its dynamism and formal elegance. Emerging as a practicing artist in the late 1960s and early 1970s, Shapiro sought to move beyond the restraints of Minimalism—while simultaneously retaining aspects of its material and procedural strategies—and to introduce a more referential and psychologically profound mode of sculpture making. Having worked with an array of materials over the years, with aluminum, iron, wood, and plaster among them, Shapiro is perhaps most renowned for his engagement with bronze casting and for his configurations often composed of abstract, rectilinear elements that suggest a human figure or figures in various states of movement.

Standing 24-feet-tall, Shapiro’s untitled bronze from 1996-1999 exemplifies his ability to elicit immediate and visceral responses from viewers. From various points around the intersection of Madison and 57th Street, as well as the plaza around the sculpture in front of 590 Madison, pedestrians and viewers can explore the artist’s attention to patina, surface, shape, and process—noting how the bronze casting retains traces of the original wood patterns— along with the work’s shifting forms and configurations. At once soaring and flailing, the work’s turbulent and ultimately buoyant, graceful forms reinvigorate viewers’ engagement with their daily, urban surroundings, evoking the complexity of modern life and the regenerative potential of the human spirit.

Shapiro says: “I am deeply grateful for this opportunity to exhibit a sculpture in such a prominent plaza in the city, and I am honored to follow the much-lauded, long-term Calder installation, which I greatly admired. I would like to thank Arne and Marc Glimcher and Edward Minskoff for making this installation possible and for their longtime commitment to public art. As we continue to deal with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, I hope that my sculpture is seen as a celebration of and testament to the strength, courage, resilience, and creativity of the great people of New York City.”

Pace Gallery and Minskoff began their years-long partnership in 1995 with the inaugural exhibition of The Sculpture Garden, a presentation in the public atrium of 590 Madison organized by Pace and featuring seasonal showings of modern and contemporary sculpture. The first iteration of the exhibition series included sculptures by Pace artists, including Jean Dubuffet, Louise Nevelson, and Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, among others. In conjunction with this presentation, Pace installed Saurien, a large-scale sculpture by Calder, at the entrance of 590 Madison. Works by Pace’s artists are featured at several of Minskoff’s other properties in New York, including Jeff Koons’s Balloon Rabbit (2005-2013) at IBM Watson Headquarters at 51 Astor Place and Oldenburg and van Bruggen’s Spitzhacke, Model (1982) at 1166 Avenue of the Americas.

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