press release

Conversation Piece, 2001, is a group of five life-size bronze figures, each of which bear the characteristic qualities of Muñoz's figurative works: Round heads, mute faces with similar features, and expressive gestures. With their oversized rounded bases, wrinkled and bulging, the sculptures seem at once limp and unwieldy. The five figures of Conversation Piece variously lean together, whisper, and ignore one other, transforming the plaza into a theatrical space where a mysterious drama plays out. With his series-and with this compelling example in particular- Muñoz added a new twist to the phrase "conversation piece," the term used to describe a genre of 17th- and 18th-century English and Dutch paintings of social gatherings in domestic interiors or garden settings. Here, sited at the busy southeastern corner of Central Park, Muñoz's psychologically-charged scene is as complex and ambiguous as its predecessors are intimate and precise.

Artist Bio Juan Muñoz (1953 - 2001) began his career in the mid-1970s, and gained international recognition as an artist, a curator, and a writer of art criticism and prose. Drawing upon a wide range of sources-literature, music, art history, theater and film-Muñoz's work explored the ways in which architecture and sculpture can weave powerful, open-ended narratives that involve the viewer on both a visceral and intellectual level. Throughout his career, Muñoz revisited certain visual themes-a balcony, a streetscape, patterned floors, the ballerina, the dwarf-which link a diverse body of work that includes drawing, sculpture, installation, performance, and sound-based works. He created his first Conversation Piece in late 1990, shortly after he began to incorporate the human figure into his sculptural installations.

Muñoz was born in Madrid, and studied at University of Madrid, Croydon College in London, and the Pratt Graphic Center in New York. In June 2001, Muñoz realized his most ambitious project ever, Double Bind, a site-specific installation for the Turbine Hall of the Tate Modern, London. Muñoz's first-ever American career retrospective originated last year at the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C., and is traveling nationally through March 2003. Muñoz's work has also been presented at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin (1994); Dia Center for the Arts, New York (1996); and Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid (1996).

Sponsorship This exhibition is made possible through the cooperation and support of the City of New York/Parks & Recreation. Special thanks to Marian Goodman Gallery.

Location Doris C. Freedman Plaza is located at the Southeast Entrance to Central Park on Fifth Avenue and 60th Street. Nearest Subway: N R to Fifth Avenue stop or 4,5,6 to 59th Street stop.


Juan Muñoz: Conversation Piece
At Doris C. Freedman Plaza
(Fifth Avenue and 60th Street)