VAN GOGH’S EAR at Rockefeller Center®

    April 13, 2016 – June 3, 2016 all-day
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    Rockefeller Center
    45 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, NY 10111
    Elmgreen & Dragset, Van Gogh’s Ear, 2016. Artists’ rendering. Courtesy of the artists and Public Art Fund, NY.

    Spectacular New Upright Swimming Pool Sculpture To Be Presented At Rockefeller Center® This Spring



    April 13 – June 3, 2016

    Fifth Avenue entrance to the Channel Gardens, Rockefeller Center

    Organized by Public Art Fund and Tishman Speyer

    This spring, artist duo Elmgreen & Dragset will transform the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Channel Gardens at Rockefeller Center with a large-scale new work. Van Gogh’s Ear is a sculpture, which takes the form of a swimming pool sitting upright. Its cyan blue interior, adorned with a polished stainless steel ladder, bright lights, and a diving board, opens up to the public traveling down Fifth Avenue, across from Saks Fifth Avenue. Conceived specifically for this site, where fashion, commerce, tourism, business, and art collide, the work playfully contradicts our expectations of both this familiar object and iconic site. Elmgreen & Dragset: Van Gogh’s Ear will be free to the public and on view April 13 through June 3, 2016. The exhibition is organized by Public Art Fund and Tishman Speyer. Following its presentation at Rockefeller Center, the K11 Art Foundation will travel Van Gogh’s Ear to China.

    Displayed as if in a high-end retail showroom, the work continues the idea of Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, which debuted a century ago and featured ordinary objects elevated to the level of high art by the choice of the artist. In contrast with these works, which were often only slightly modified, Elmgreen & Dragset have carefully designed and crafted each detail of Van Gogh’s Ear to mimic a garden pool. Re-positioned in a pedestrian plaza surrounded by the busy life of tourists, skyscrapers, and businesses, the pool stands out as a surreal object uprooted from its usual environment. The sculptural elements of the pool itself—from the curves created by the different depths and its overall shape, to the protruding diving board—become apparent when it is singularly presented vertically and above ground. Elmgreen & Dragset render the pool devoid of function via its displacement, and in turn, prompt a simultaneously more cerebral, poetic, and aesthetic approach to the actual object as well as its setting.

    “Tishman Speyer has been working with the Public Art Fund for nearly two decades to bring some of the world’s most spectacular art to Rockefeller Center, and this is one of our most ambitious projects so far,” said Tishman Speyer President and Chief Executive Officer Rob Speyer. “Balancing at the end of the Channel Gardens, with the iconic 30 Rockefeller Plaza in the background, this unique sculpture will truly change the Midtown Manhattan landscape and become one of New York City’s must-see destinations. Elmgreen & Dragset’s work explores the intersection of art, architecture and design, and this exhibit epitomizes their creative journey. We look forward to bringing it to New York City and the world.”

    “For many years, Elmgreen & Dragset have been masters of the unforgettably uncanny object. With its dramatic scale, wildly incongruous setting, and cleverly macabre title, Van Gogh’s Ear promises to be perhaps their wittiest installation yet. At the same time, the artists have revealed the stunningly sensuous potential of the garden-variety swimming pool, enhancing and revealing its curvaceous form, blue interior volume, and immaculate hardware. The result is a sculpture of extraordinarily strange beauty,” said Nicholas Baume, Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator.

    “The sculpture recalls the 1950s-style pools found in front of some Californian private homes, in contrast to this very public East coast urban setting. It is as if an alien spaceship had landed in the midst of this prominent and busy environment. One can dream of lazy days under the sun while surrounded by all the traffic and business going on at Rockefeller Plaza. The title Van Gogh’s Ear plays on the mythological versus the ordinary. We thought it was a perfect name for a swimming pool of this shape. It opens up the possibility for a different perception of the form itself. And like the myth of Van Gogh cutting off his ear in despair, the dislocated pool will hopefully make people wonder ‘why?’, and pursue their own reasoning behind this inexplicable scenario,” said Elmgreen & Dragset.

    Like Elmgreen & Dragset’s previous public project Prada Marfa (2005), a faux Prada store located in the middle of the West Texas desert, Van Gogh’s Ear brings attention to its context through its otherness. The swimming pool motif is closely linked to several of the duo’s other recent works including their iconic Death of a Collector installation for the Danish and Nordic Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale in 2009. The work included the body of a “collector” floating face down in his pool, outside of the two buildings, which the artists conceived of as homes. They have also presented Powerless Structures, Fig. 11 (1997) and Powerless Structures, Fig. 13 (2014), a diving board installed to penetrate a window at the Louisiana Museum of Modern Art in Denmark and at the Punta della Dogana in Venice, respectively.

    Since 1998, Public Art Fund and Tishman Speyer have collaborated to present internationally acclaimed works of art to the millions of people who visit and work at Rockefeller Center. Recent projects include Thomas Houseago’s Masks (Pentagon) a room formed by five 14- to 16-foot tall masks presented in 2015, Jeff Koons’ massive topiary sculpture Split-Rocker (2000) presented

    in 2014; Ugo Rondinone’s Human Nature (2013), nine 16-to 20-foot-tall, human-shaped stone figures; Chris Burden’s What My Dad Gave Me (2008), a 65-foot-tall skyscraper made up entirely of construction parts; and Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror (2006), which received the award for “Best Show in a Public Space” by the U.S. Art Critics Association. In 2003, Takashi Murakami’s Reversed Double Helix featured his 30-foot-tall “Mr Pointy” sculpture, two giant floating balloons, and a forest of mushroom seating; in 2001, Louise Bourgeois presented three massive bronze spiders, including the 30-foot-tall Maman; and in 2000 Jeff Koons’ first monumental topiary, Puppy, blossomed at the foot of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.


    Elmgreen & Dragset: Van Gogh’s Ear will be on view April 13 through June 3, 2016 at the Fifth Avenue entrance to Rockefeller Center’s Channel Gardens between 49th and 50th Streets in Midtown Manhattan.

    Hours: 24 hours, 7 days a week

    Subway: F, D, B, V to 47-50th Street Rockefeller Center; N, R, W to 49th Street; 1 to 50th Street; 6 to 51st Street


    Michael Elmgreen (b. 1961, Copenhagen, Denmark) and Ingar Dragset (b. 1969, Trondheim, Norway) are based in Berlin and have worked together as an artist duo since 1995. They have held numerous solo exhibitions in art institutions worldwide, including the Ullens Center for Contemporary Art, Beijing (2016); PLATEAU, Samsung Museum of Art, Seoul (2015); Statens Museum for Kunst, Copenhagen (2014); Astrup Fearnley Museet, Oslo (2014); Victoria and Albert Museum, London (2013); Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2011); ZKM Museum of Modern Art, Karlsruhe (2010); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León (2009); The Power Plant, Toronto (2006); Serpentine Gallery, London (2006); Tate Modern, London (2004); and Kunsthalle Zürich (2001). Their work has been included in the Liverpool (2012), Singapore (2011), Moscow (2011, 2007), Gwangju (2002), São Paulo (2002), Istanbul (2013, 2001), and Berlin (1998) biennials, and in 2009 they received a special mention for their exhibition “The Collectors” in the Nordic and Danish Pavilions at the 53rd Venice Biennale. Amongst their most well known works are Prada Marfa (2005)—a full scale replica of a Prada boutique in the middle of the Texan desert—and Short Cut (2003)—a car and a caravan breaking through the ground, which was first shown in Milan and now resides in the collection of the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. The artists were shortlisted for the Hugo Boss Prize, Guggenheim Museum, New York (2000) and won the Preis der Nationalgalerie, Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin (2002). In 2012 Elmgreen & Dragset were selected for London’s Fourth Plinth Commission in Trafalgar Square. Elmgreen & Dragset are represented by Galerie Perrotin in Paris, Hong Kong, and New York; Victoria Miro in London; and Massimo De Carlo in Milan and London. 4 of 4


    Public Art Fund brings dynamic contemporary art to a broad audience in New York City by mounting ambitious free exhibitions of international scope and impact that offer the public powerful experiences with art and the urban environment.

    Since its inception in 1977, Public Art Fund has presented more than four hundred artists’ exhibitions and projects at sites throughout New York City’s five boroughs, making it possible for artists to engage diverse audiences and, along the way, redefine public art in relation to the changing nature of contemporary art. Early Public Art Fund projects include Messages to the Public (1982-1990), an exhibition series that ran on an 800-square foot animated light board in Times Square and featured more than 70 artists, among them Guerrilla Girls, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Richard Prince, Kiki Smith, and David Wojnarowicz. More recent exhibitions include Olafur Eliasson’s The New York City Waterfalls (2008) along the East River; Kate Gilmore’s Walk the Walk (2010) in Bryant Park; Rob Pruitt’s The Andy Monument (2011) in Union Square; the career sculpture retrospective Sol LeWitt: Structures, 1965-2006 (2011) in City Hall Park; Tatzu Nishi: Discovering Columbus (2012) in Columbus Circle; Danh Vo: We The People (2014) in Brooklyn Bridge Park and City Hall Park; and Tatiana Trouvé: Desire Lines (2015) in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park.

    Public Art Fund is a nonprofit organization supported by contributions from individuals, foundations, corporations, and, in part, with funds from government agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.


    Tishman Speyer is a leading owner, developer, operator and fund manager of first-class real estate around the world. Founded in 1978, Tishman Speyer is active across the United States, Europe, Latin America and Asia, building and managing premier office, residential and retail space in key global markets for industry-leading tenants. The firm has acquired, developed and operated a portfolio approximately 140.1 million square feet with a total value of approximately US$76.1 billion spread over 276 investments involving 380 properties. Signature assets include New York City’s Rockefeller Center and Chrysler Center, São Paulo’s Torre Norte, The Springs in Shanghai and OpernTurm in Frankfurt. Tishman Speyer currently has projects at different stages of development in Atlanta, Boston, Brasília, Chengdu, Frankfurt, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Los Angeles, New York City, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, San Francisco, São Paulo, Shanghai, Suzhou and Washington, DC.


    Founded by Adrian Cheng, the K11 Art Foundation (KAF) is a non-profit art foundation in China that supports the contemporary Chinese art scene, helping to build a complete art ecosystem in Greater China. As part of the K11 brand—which includes K11 Art Malls, chi K11 art museum, K11 art village, K11 Artist-in-Residence Programme, K11 Artist Klub, and K11 Kollection—KAF supports the development of Chinese contemporary art from Greater China by providing a creative platform that nurtures both emerging Chinese artists and curators. The foundation has embarked on many international collaborations, among them partnerships with the Institute of Contemporary Arts (ICA) in London, Centre Pompidou, Palais de Tokyo and Musée Marmottan in Paris, as well as the Metropolitan Museum of Art and The Armory Show in New York. Through research, initiatives, and partnerships, KAF offers the Chinese public a diverse range of programs and exhibitions fostering people’s appreciation of arts and culture.