SANFORD BIGGERS AT ROCKEFELLER CENTER
- Date: May 05 - July 12, 2021
- Location: Rockefeller Center
- Partner: Rockefeller Center & Marianne Boesky Gallery
- Artists: Sanford Biggers
We are pleased to announce that Sanford Biggers Oracle will remain on veiw through Monday July 12th, 2021!
Conceptual artist Sanford Biggers transforms Rockefeller Center with his campus-wide exhibition consisting of several public art activations, including a monumental sculpture, an artist-designed flag installation, a 125-foot vinyl mural, vitrine installations and more. The 25-foot tall bronze sculpture entitled Oracle, commissioned by Art Production Fund in partnership with Marianne Boesky Gallery, installed at the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Channel Gardens, is the cornerstone of Biggers’ presentation and welcomes visitors to the exhibition. Oracle is a continuation of Biggers’ recent Chimera sculptures, a series of figurative works created by combining various African and European figurative sculptural elements that explore historical depictions of the body and their subsequent myths, narratives, perceptions, and power. Oracle is the artist’s 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 Chimeras 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 ice skating rink flagpoles. Entitled Seigaiha, numerous flags feature unique wave motifs designed by Biggers. The imagery represents the elements wind and water and evokes ideas of movement, transformation, and flow.
Biggers’ site-specific installations will also be on view in prominent and unexpected public locations throughout the campus, including the lobby vitrines at 45 Rockefeller Plaza. Small-scale Chimera sculptures are staged with backdrop film stills from Biggers’ recent video works.
The murals displayed throughout Rockefeller Center feature 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 45 Rockefeller Plaza concourse, Just Us, displays a clouded sky punctured with the words “Just Us” in a cutout-style font that reveals alternative views of more clouds. 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.
In addition to the multi-part installation throughout the Rockefeller Center, visitors can discover digital and AR experiences at the Oracle sculpture, the Chimera installation in the 45 Rockefeller Plaza lobby, and the 125-ft Just Us mural at 45 Rockefeller Plaza concourse. Activated by QR codes, viewers enter a portal into an unseen dimension that interacts with the artworks, whether on-site or at home. Visitors can speak to the Oracle directly or engage the Chimeras from behind the glass by animating their “digital spirit forms” and their place of origin within the architecture of Rockefeller Center, further expanding their mythic narratives. Additional digital components such as Biggers’ video works are also accessible, allowing a deeper dive into his astonishingly diverse body of work that encompasses painting, sculpture, film, textiles, installation, sound, and performance.“I've always been intrigued by Rockefeller Center for its architectural history and mythological references. Rockefeller Center is an ideal context for myth creation and allows me to experiment with this approach. I’m pleased for the opportunity to exhibit the largest Chimera sculpture to date alongside the artworks featured in Art In Focus. This combination enhances the persistence of myth while also producing a constellation of connections within each work and the site itself.” - SANFORD BIGGERS
“This spring is extra special for all of us – it’s a comeback and an awakening, it’s hopeful and optimistic, and celebrating it with Sanford Biggers’ art makes it all the more meaningful. As a New Yorker, Sanford was the perfect choice for our first campus-wide takeover by a solo artist. Public art is in our DNA, and it wouldn't be spring in New York City without a dynamic public art experience at the Center.” – EB KELLY, TISHMAN SPEYER MANAGING DIRECTOR OVERSEEING ROCKEFELLER CENTER
“Having long admired Sanford Biggers practice, it is an honor to present this ambitious survey of his diverse work at the iconic Rockefeller Center. The multi-part exhibition is both visually seductive and deeply nuanced. Through a variety of media, Biggers gives the public a unique opportunity to reflect on themes essential to contemporary discourse.” - CASEY FREMONT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ART PRODUCTION FUND
“The 100+ permanent public art works across the Rock Center campus explore mythology and our relationship to history and culture, and Sanford’s ambitious collection continues that conversation with an artistic sensibility that differentiates him from many of his contemporary colleagues. This collaboration has been several years in the making, and we couldn’t be happier to see it take shape this spring as the city reawakens and returns to its full fervor. “ – MICHAELLA SOLAR-MARCH, TISHMAN SPEYER MANAGING DIRECTOR, GLOBAL HEAD OF MARKETING
"We are honored to represent Sanford Biggers and are grateful to Art Production Fund and Rockefeller Center for this opportunity as well as their vision and support. Throughout his career, Sanford has consistently demonstrated his acuity at melding historical sources with contemporary socio-political concerns; time after time presenting immediate, deeply relevant themes and imagery."-MARIANNE BOESKY, FOUNDER, MARIANNE BOESKY GALLERY
The presentation of Oracle at Rockefeller Center is made possible with generous support from Tishman Speyer and Marianne Boesky Gallery with additional support from Sarah Arison and Aby and Samantha Rosen.
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 Art’s 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.
TISHMAN SPEYER is a leading owner, developer, operator and investment manager of first-class real estate in 28 key markets across the United States, Europe, Asia and Latin America. We develop, build and manage premier office, residential and retail spaces for industry-leading tenants, as well as state-of-the-art life science centers through our Breakthrough Properties venture. With global vision, on-the-ground expertise and a personalized approach, we are unparalleled in our ability to foster innovation, quickly adapt to global and local trends and proactively anticipate our customers’ evolving needs. By focusing on health and wellness, enlightened placemaking and customer-focused initiatives such as our tenant amenities platform, ZO., and our flexible space and co-working brand, Studio, we tend not just to our physical buildings, but to the people who inhabit them on a daily basis. Since our inception in 1978, Tishman Speyer has acquired, developed, and operated 453 properties, totaling 210 million square feet, with a combined value of approximately $113 billion (U.S.). Our current portfolio includes such iconic assets as Rockefeller Center in New York City, The Springs in Shanghai, TaunusTurm in Frankfurt and the Mission Rock neighborhood currently being realized in San Francisco.