This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

16Aug/16

ISA GENZKEN: TWO ORCHIDS

(photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Isa Genzken’s “Two Orchids” are still in bloom at entrance to Central Park (photo by twi-ny/mdr)

Scholars’ Gate, Doris C. Freedman Plaza
Central Park entrance, 60th St. & Fifth Ave.
Through August 26, free
www.publicartfund.org
two orchids slideshow

The annual Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden ended in April, but there are still two big-time orchids standing proud in the city. And we do mean big. Shortly after “Orchidelirum” opened on February 27 at the NYBG, German artist Isa Genzken installed “Two Orchids,” a pair of white orchids, one twenty-eight feet high, the other thirty-four feet high, in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, at the Scholars’ Gate entrance to Central Park. Genzken, who had a major retrospective at MoMA in 2013-14, works in multiple disciplines, including painting, photography, collage, film, drawing, sculpture, and more. She studied with such artists as Katharina Fritsch, Thomas Struth, and Thomas Schütte at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf (and eventually married one of her professors, Gerhard Richter); in 2013, Schütte’s “United Enemies” was on view in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, and it later moved to MoMA’s sculpture garden, where Genzken’s thirty-six-foot-high “Rose II” can currently be seen (after previously hanging on the facade of the New Museum). “Whereas the red rose has long been a rather clichéd symbol of love, the orchid, once a more obscure and exotic bloom, has become increasingly ubiquitous,” curator and Public Art Fund director Nicholas Baume explained in a statement. “For Genzken, the decorative neutrality of the orchid makes it the quintessential flower of our period – global and porous to meaning.” Made of stainless steel, the orchids, which evoke both male and female sex organs, have been in full bloom since March 1, quite a sight against the green trees behind them and the blue sky and white clouds above, while also casting unique shadows on the ground. But their season is over soon, as they will be removed on August 26. “New York is a city of incredible stability and solidity,” Genzken told Wolfgang Tillmans in 2003. Although “Two Orchids” is based on a delicate, fragile flower, it has a noble stability and solidity that rubs off on all who experience its tender beauty.

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