press release

New York, NY - For the 2004 Biennial Exhibition, the Public Art Fund will expand its previous collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art to present nine installations by seven artists throughout the entire length of Central Park, from 60th Street to 110th Street. Building upon the outdoor presentation of Biennial works in 2002, this year's show will include artists' site-specific reactions to the park as well as several sculptural projects that were conceived independently of location. For the first time, the exhibition will include a weekend event of openings and participatory artists' projects in the park. This outdoor component of the 2004 Biennial Exhibition is curated by Public Art Fund director Tom Eccles in collaboration with Whitney Museum curators Chrissie Iles, Shamim M. Momin, and Debra Singer.

The projects will open in two phases. The first group, opening on March 10, includes sculptural works by Paul McCarthy, Olav Westphalen, Liz Craft, and David Altmejd. Ranging from Westphalen's tabloid-inspired sculpture of a life-size tiger to McCarthy's giant pink inflatable Daddies Bighead, the projects collectively showcase the new preeminence of the figure in contemporary art. Although McCarthy, Westphalen, and Craft have each created projects with the Public Art Fund in recent years, this will be the first-ever public artwork made by David Altmejd, whose intricate and often grotesque sculptures of werewolf heads demonstrate a vital and visceral direction in sculpture.

On April 17, three locations in the park will be given over to openings and participatory projects with artists assume vivid astro focus, Dave Muller, and Yayoi Kusama. The Skate Circle-the group that runs the seasonal weekly disco skate gatherings mid-park near 72nd Street-will welcome assume vivid astro focus's Garden 10, featuring a special afternoon performance by the Los Angeles-based band Los Super Elegantes. Dave Muller's Three Day Weekend, one of a series of nomadic artist-curated exhibitions he has organized around the world, will be on view in the Arsenal Gallery (through Monday, April 19). Yayoi Kusama's untitled sculptural work will go on view in the Conservatory Waters, just steps away from the Alice in Wonderland statue where she staged a "body festival" happening in 1968 - a coincidence that is especially fitting given the key roles that social interaction and artistic collaboration play in the work of both Muller and assume vivid astro focus. A second press release will follow in the near future with information about the weekend's events.

This ambitious exhibition, sponsored by Bloomberg LP and generously supported by Adam Lindemann, is the result of a major collaborative effort between the Public Art Fund, the Whitney Museum of American Art, and the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation. Brochures with a map of the exhibition sites and schedule of events will be available in Central Park's visitor centers and at the Whitney Museum; information can also be found online at and or can be requested by calling 212-980-3942.

OPENING MARCH 10: Paul McCarthy's Daddies Bighead and MJBH, Liz Craft's The Spare, Olav Westphalen's The Weight of Dead Prey, and David Altmejd's Untitled (Swallow) and Untitled (Bluejay). Paul McCarthy • Daddies Bighead, 2003 At Lasker Rink and Pool Enter park at Fifth Avenue and 106th Street • MJBH, 2002 At Doris C. Freedman Plaza Fifth Avenue and 60th Street Anchoring the exhibition at the northern and southern ends of Central Park will be two sculptures by Los Angeles-based artist Paul McCarthy. Over the past three decades, McCarthy has plumbed conceptual art, popular culture, and the human psyche to create a highly personalized and provocative body of work. Daddies Bighead (2003), sited at Lasker Rink in the northern end of the park, is a 50-foot-tall pink inflatable sculpture. Sitting atop a slender, very vertical body, the oversized head that gives the piece its name will be visible from 110th Street and elsewhere within the park. Daddies Bighead is the sculptural result of an ongoing series of mixed-media works that date back to 1983, when McCarthy incorporated an actual bottle of the British product Daddies Ketchup into a performance. The bottle, which bears the face of what McCarthy has called "the quintessential 1950s dad," resurfaced in McCarthy's work in 2001 as a several-story inflatable sculpture. Since then, McCarthy has reworked and abstracted the form, ultimately creating this new inflatable, which bears only the slightest resemblance to its predecessors. With bulging eyes, a carrot-shaped nose, and several protruding irregularities, Daddies Bighead is at once goofy and awful-a roadside attraction gone bizarrely awry. The work was first exhibited outside the Tate Modern in London for McCarthy's recent exhibition there.

McCarthy's MJBH (2002), located at Doris C. Freedman Plaza, is one of a series of recent works by McCarthy based on artist Jeff Koons's famous sculpture, Michael Jackson and Bubbles (1988), which was itself a representation of a publicity photograph of the superstar. Dispensing with the rococo delicacy of Koons's oversized ceramic figurine, McCarthy's sculpture is an abstracted representation of Michael Jackson sitting with his pet monkey. Its title, an abbreviation of "Michael Jackson Big Head," describes both the subject and McCarthy's characteristic figurative exaggeration. With cartoonish feet, large heads with inscrutable features, and relatively small bodies, the two figures merge into one tangled multi-limbed form. Made in 2002, just before the recent avalanche of press coverage on the legendary pop star, McCarthy's sculpture considers the nature of celebrity, re-imagining the familiar image of Jackson and his sidekick in monumental, grotesquely unfamiliar form.

Liz Craft The Spare, 2003-04 At Doris C. Freedman Plaza Fifth Avenue and 60th Street Liz Craft often casts everyday objects in fantastical, unsettling scenarios, resulting in appealing show-stoppers that plant themselves at the busy intersection of pop culture and high art. Working in a variety of materials-including polyurethane, fiberglass, bronze and wood-Craft creates works that are at once wry, flamboyant, and slightly sinister. Like fellow Los Angeles-based artist Paul McCarthy, California native Craft takes inspiration from the familiar cultural landscape, referencing hippies, Hell's Angels, psychedelia, and other vernacular iconography in her meticulously crafted sculptures. At Doris C. Freedman Plaza-adjacent to McCarthy's Michael Jackson Big Head (bronze)-Craft shows three versions of The Spare, a bronze sculpture of a prickly pear cactus growing from a discarded tire. Craft's trio of cacti would be a banal sight in any Southwestern landscape, but in New York they are exotic transplants from a desert junkyard, offering stark counterpoint to Central Park's lush, well-kept expanse and playfully challenging our notions of "high" versus "low" art.

Olav Westphalen The Weight of Dead Prey, 2004 On Wien Walk near the entrance to the Central Park Zoo Enter park at Fifth Avenue and 60th Street Olav Westphalen's artistic practice locates itself between the realms of art and daily life, an approach pioneered by Allan Kaprow (with whom he studied in California) and further explored by Los Angeles performance and conceptual artists including Paul McCarthy. Westphalen views caricature and comics as a way to challenge the "serious" traditions of art derived from Modernism and Minimalism. His art often takes the guise of the one-liner but nevertheless flips immediately into a serious reflection on just what kind of criticality is possible in caricature. Inspired by the spate of recent news coverage of incidents involving domesticated wild animals-tigers in particular-Westphalen's The Weight of Dead Prey is a life-size sculpture of a ferocious tiger, who reclines in a small fenced-in area alongside a path outside the zoo. Near the tiger will be a few large objects, modeled after the toys given to large animals in captivity-balls with appendages that are literally made to approximate "the weight of dead prey." Made of hand-carved and polished fiberglass, the sculpture will look slightly realistic, but also something like a folk art woodcarving. Positioned near the entrance to the Central Park Zoo, The Weight of Dead Prey is a reminder-delivered with Westphalen's characteristic light touch-of our double-edged need to reign in nature's wild kingdom even as we romanticize it.

David Altmejd Untitled (Swallow) and Untitled (Blue Jay), 2004 At the Andrew Haswell Green Memorial Enter park at Fifth Avenue and 106th Street Awkward yet elegant, David Altmejd's werewolf heads are carefully crafted sculptural objects that explore notions of attraction and repulsion. In their frequent appearances in fairy tales, Greek mythology, and Hollywood B-movies, werewolves embody tensions between sympathy and horror. In his gallery installations, Altmejd depicts these creatures-part-human and part-beast-as decaying objects, often installing them within mirrored, modernist sculptural settings in order to tease out comparisons between organic and inorganic materiality. For Central Park, Altmejd will create two oversized werewolf heads, approximately five feet in length, which are encrusted with glitter, pearls, and sparkling rhinestones and crystals. These bejeweled grotesqueries, at once seductive and macabre, are contained in two Plexiglas cases, apparently preserving them in two starkly different stages of decomposition. Installed in a bucolic location in the northern end of Central Park, Altmejd's werewolf works present the viewer with a dramatically visceral, melancholy, and novel example of contemporary sculpture.

OPENING APRIL 17: assume vivid astro focus's Garden 10, Dave Muller's Three Day Weekend, and Yayoi Kusama's untitled work for the Conservatory Water.

assume vivid astro focus Garden 10, 2004 Between the Mall and the Sheep Meadow Enter park at 72nd Street April 17- May 4 When he first arrived in New York from his native Brazil, artist assume vivid astro focus was struck by the vibrancy of the many activities that take place in Central Park, particularly that of the Skate Circle-a group that transforms an unused section of pavement into a disco dance roller rink on spring and summer weekends, providing New Yorkers with a favorite hometown spectator sport. Drawing from a wide variety of popular sources-psychedelic album covers, Brazilian pop music stars, coloring books, Op Art, and Peter Max-inspired graphics, to name just a few-assume vivid astro focus will create Garden 10, a spectacular floorscape for the surface of the Skate Circle site. Tinged with nostalgic and utopian appeal, this colorful vinyl sticker will set the stage for the talented roller-skaters, who come from all over the city to show off their exuberant, practiced moves on the roller dance floor. On April 17, the Skate Circle will officially open its season with assume vivid astro focus and special guests, Los Super Elegantes, who will perform at Garden 10.

Yayoi Kusama Untitled work for the Conservatory Water Enter park at 72nd Street April 17 - May 30 Yayoi Kusama, one of the most influential and widely recognized artists of the 1960s, will create a new work for Central Park's Conservatory Water. In the late sixties, Kusama's happenings and nude performances were a regular feature of the city's public landscape and included a "body-festival" at the Alice in Wonderland sculpture in Central Park. Her work for this exhibition, floating mirror balls in a pond, also connects back to her notorious Narcissus Garden for the 1966 Venice Biennale where the artist was censured for selling her 1,500 mirror globes under a sign that read, "Your Narcissism for Sale." Over the past three decades, Kusama has often revisited mirrored forms in her work, exploring notions of infinity, illusion, and repetition in discrete sculptures and room-size installations, as in the recent The Fireflies on the Water (2002). For Kusama, the use of repeated forms is the obsessive public expression of a lifetime of hallucinations, a personal focus that has remained consistent throughout her diverse body of work. For the Conservatory Water-the small pond just steps away from the site of her earlier happening-Kusama will install hundreds of silvered balls within a contained circular area, drawing the viewer into her alluring and unsettling visual world.

Dave Muller Three Day Weekend, 2004 The Arsenal Gallery (The Arsenal Building, Third Floor, Fifth Avenue and 64th Street) April 17 - 19 Since 1994, the Los Angeles-based artist Dave Muller has been organizing "Three Day Weekends," a series of roving, intermittent group exhibitions-he describes the ongoing project as an "artist-run, nomadic project space." These shows remain on view for only three days and then disappear as suddenly as they arrived, remaining after the fact as little more than a rumor. Non-hierarchical and inclusive in nature, Muller's "Three Day Weekends" critique art world conventions even as they participate in them: Muller condenses the formal structure of mainstream gallery and museum exhibitions, offering an affable, open-ended alternative that emphasizes the social experience of viewing art. For Muller, who is also a musician and DJ, collaboration and appropriation are recurring strains in his work-he incorporates and pays homage to the works of other artists, just as DJs sample other people's music at the turntable. For Central Park, Muller presents Three Day Weekend, presenting the work of eight artists along with a wall work by Muller.

The Public Art Fund projects in Central Park, presented in collaboration with the Whitney Museum of American Art, are sponsored by Bloomberg and generously supported by Adam Lindemann.

David Altmejd's Untitled (Swallow) and Untitled (Bluejay), and assume vivid astro focus's Garden 10 are all projects of the Public Art Fund program In the Public Realm, which is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts, The New York State Council on the Arts, A State Agency, the City of New York Department of Cultural Affairs, the Office of the Brooklyn Borough President, The Greenwall Foundation, The Silverweed Foundation, The JPMorgan Chase Foundation, and friends of the Public Art Fund.

This exhibition is made possible through the cooperation of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation.

About Public Art Fund The Public Art Fund is New York's leading presenter of artists' projects, new commissions, installations and exhibitions in public spaces. With over 25 years of experience and an international reputation, the Public Art Fund identifies, coordinates and realizes a diversity of major projects by both established and emerging artists throughout New York City. By bringing artworks outside the traditional context of museums and galleries, the Public Art Fund provides a unique platform for an unparalleled public encounter with the art of our time. The Public Art Fund is a non-profit arts organization supported by generous gifts from individuals, foundations, and corporations, and with public funds from The New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs. Pressetext

Public Art Fund Projects in Central Park - Whitney Biennale 2004
A collaboration with the Whitney Biennial
mit Paul McCarthy, Liz Craft, Olav Westphalen, David Altmejd, Yayoi Kusama, Dave Muller, Assume Vivid Astro Focus, u.a.

Whitney Biennale 2004