The Cuban-born artist Alexandre Arrechea has long been fascinated with taking solid, familiar objects–a basketball hoop, a piano, security cameras–and, by adding or subtracting (though usually adding), playfully transforming them into something a little weird, something a lot delightful.
Now, under the auspices of the Magnan Metz Gallery, and working in conjunction with New York City’s Department of Parks & Recreation as well as The Fund for the Park Avenue Sculpture Committee, Arrechea delivers his most ambitious and, from what I’ve seen, his most fully realized and successful project yet, No Limits.
Installed along the Park Avenue mall between 54th to 67th Streets, No Limits gives us ten of New York City’s beloved, iconic buildings, all turned into giant, twirly, sculptural playthings.
Iconic Skyscrapers Twisted into Unusual Shapes
Although Arrechea and his crew had only finished installing two of the ten buildings when I went to check out the No Limits exhibition on opening day–these towering, complicated pieces can weigh up to 12,000 pounds, and so require special steel foundations, so it’s understandable that they’ve fallen a little behind–but it’s easy to tell how cool this is going to be when it’s completed.
The ten buildings chosen by Arrechea are all easily recognizable in their normal state: the Flatiron building and the Empire State, the Chrysler, the Helmsley, the MetLife Insurance buildings. But part of the fun of Arrechea’s No Limits series is identifying the familiar structures as crazy, snaky toys. And because of the bright red wheel that seems to serve as a base for Arrechea’s buildings, all of the works look as if they can move, or swing… and two of them, the MetLife and Citigroup Buildings, are made to resemble giant tops, and actually can be spun by passersby.
Alexandre Arrechea Comments on his ‘No Limits’ Exhibition on Park Avenue
It’s all very cool looking and fun, the 10 buildings in Alexandre Arrechea’s No Limits series, but like most successful pieces of public art there’s also a deeper interplay between the sculptures and their surroundings. As Arrechea puts it in his artist’s statement: “I believe the same way that a building is exposed to daily elements and changes–cold, heat, rain, fog–it is also exposed to constant changes in function–increases and decreases in market value, tenant use, and therefore purpose and social value. These persistent modifications are something I want to capture and embody in my work, creating a new model in constant negotiation with its surroundings.”
Restless, constant change, especially in the name of commerce, has always been one of the defining characteristics of New York City, making Arrechea’s No Limits an especially apt choice for the Park Avenue mall.
Map of Skyscraper Sculptures on Park Avenue
The 10 sculptures in Alexandre Arrechea’s No Limits exhibition will be on display through June 9 on the Park Avenue mall between 54th and 67th Streets (see map below, courtesy of Curbed). More info here.