The Frieze New York art fair takes place May 2-5 at Randall’s Island Park, where tickets run up to $85.50 with ferry service and a magazine subscription. But you can get a free taste at Rockefeller Center, where Frieze New York and Tishman Speyer have partnered for Frieze Sculpture, an exhibition of public works by fourteen artists, with pieces lining Rockefeller Plaza outside and a few hidden away in lobbies. The participating artists are Nick Cave, Aaron Curry, Jose Dávila, Walter De Maria, Rochelle Goldberg, Goshka Macuga, Ibrahim Mahama, Joan Miró, Paulo Nazareth, Jaume Plensa, Pedro Reyes, Kiki Smith, Sarah Sze, and Hank Willis Thomas. The display is curated by Brett Littman of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum, whose choices were inspired by Noguchi’s 1940 News on the facade of the Associated Press building as well as the 1934 Diego Rivera mural that the Rockefellers destroyed because it included an image of Lenin.
One of the themes linking many of the works is that of protest, of speaking out to fight the status quo and to initiate change. Paulo Nazareth’s DRY CUT [from Blacks in the Pool — Tommie] depicts a larger-than-life cutout of Tommie Smith raising his gloved right hand while accepting his Olympic medal in 1968. An untitled piece by Nick Cave features an arm with a fist at the end emerging from an old gramophone speaker. Jaume Plensa’s monumental Behind the Walls is a huge white head with disembodied hands covering the eyes, as if refusing to see what is happening. Joan Miró’s Porte II consists of two slanted doors with a long chain dangling in between, as if a threat of punishment.
Rochelle Goldberg’s Cannibal Junkie and Kiki Smith’s Rest Upon are reminders of humanity’s connection to nature — and what might occur if we’re not more careful. Ibrahim Mahama has removed the nearly two hundred flags of UN countries that surround the skating rink and replaced them with fifty ratty flags made of jute in Ghana, evoking global poverty. Hank Willis Thomas’s Harriet and Annie (Capri) and Josephine and Kazumi (Real Red) offer passersby a public platform to share their thoughts. And Goshka Macuga’s Institute of Institutional Co-operation, seen below Dean Cromwell’s 1946 mural The Story of Transportation, shows just what we are capable of.
There will be several family programs, on alternate Sundays at 10:30 am, held in conjunction with the sculpture display. On May 12, Noguchi educators will lead a “3D: Build Up!” tour of the sculptures for four-year-olds (advance registration required). On May 26, “Your Neighborhood: Public Art” offers a guided tour for five- and six-year-olds, followed by a model-making workshop (advance registration required). On June 9, “Figures: Strike a Pose” consists of a tour and a workshop for children ages seven to eleven with advance RSVP. And on June 23, the drop-in “Get the Scoop: Stories and Art” offers children two to eleven the opportunity to explore the exhibit and make art in response to what they experience.