Golden to Green Bronze


By Tanya Silverman

Points of View. By Tony Cragg. 2013/2014.

A glistening trio of bronze-cast ellipses stack atop a great, green, grassy oval. Titled Points of View, the view is inherently temporary. It’s set outdoors, in Manhattan’s Madison Square Park, where the green grass will wither, the verdant leaves will change shades and fall, but the gilded towers will turn green, exhibiting patina, the thin surface that the metal forms from atmospheric exposure.

Points of View is part of Walks of Life, a set of sculptures by British-born artist Tony Cragg that were recently installed in the park.

Madison Square Park’s wildlife flourishes around Walks of Life.

Like its name suggests, the observer is encouraged to circumnavigate Points of View, and interpret its relation to the park scenery, along with the immense iconic buildings in the background, be it the Empire State Building to the North or Flatiron to the South. Focusing on a tower of the piece alone, you may notice a face within the structure (though I myself was not aware of that until curator Brooke Kamin Rapaport pointed it out).

“There are figurative aspects that are very abstracted but still discernible in the work,” Rapaport says as we briefly study an eerie facial profile.

Caldera. By Tony Cragg. 2008/2014.

When I call Cragg, he says that after the year and a half-long planning process, he’s pleased with the scale of the finished installation. Points of View could have gone taller, but he did not want the art to interfere with the surrounding trees. As such, he’s excited to see how these elliptical towers will embody their patina development, which will also transform Caldera, the sculpture situated at the Southwest side of the park.

The weathering won’t matter so much at the northwest part of Madison Square, to the piece Mixed Feelings, where a greener patina surface has already developed on its shifty mass of metal. A pamphlet the park provided likens its tone to that of the Statue of Liberty. Cragg, however, states that was never a thought in his creative process.

Mixed Feelings. By Tony Cragg. 2012/2014.

Mixed Feelings is two figures that are placed inside of each other, and in a sense sometimes they complement each other, the forms, and sometimes they negate each other–like maybe I should, maybe I shouldn’t,” he explains.

Perhaps interpreters have mixed feelings about it.

Until February, when Walks of Life is all de-installed, park patrons can check how the sun, rain, sleet, wind, and snow they experience will elementally affect the patina art.

All photos by Tanya Silverman.