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Artist Sanford Biggers Transforms Rockefeller Center with 25-foot Bronze ‘Oracle’ Sculpture

Sanford Biggers

Artist Sanford Biggers poses in front of his 25-foot bronze sculpture titled Oracle, situated at the Fifth Avenue entrance to Rockefeller Center’s Channel Gardens, Wednesday, May 5, 2021, in New York (Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Tishman Speyer)

This spring, multiple disciplinary artist Sanford Biggers will transform Rockefeller Center with several public art exhibitions, including the highly anticipated monumental Oracle sculpture. Presented by ART PRODUCTION FUND and ROCKEFELLER CENTER, in partnership with MARIANNE BOESKY GALLERY, and several years in the making, Biggers will be the first artist invited by Rockefeller Center for a multimedia survey exhibition campus-wide from May 5 to June 29, 2021

The 25-foot bronze sculpture titled Oraclecommissioned by Art Production Fund for installation at the Fifth Avenue entrance to the Channel Gardens, is the cornerstone of Biggers’ takeover and welcomes visitors to the installation. Oracle is a continuation of Biggers’ recent Chimera sculpturesa series of figurative sculptures created by combining African masks and European figures that explore historical depictions of the body and their subsequent myths, narratives, perceptions, and power. This sculpture will be the artist’s largest-scale commission to date.

Biggers is intrigued by the recent scholarship about the academic and historical “white-washing” of classical Greco-Roman sculpture simultaneously intersecting with the early twentieth century “black-washing” of various African sculptural objects. The Chimera sculptures specifically challenge the associated cultural and aesthetic assumptions about their source material while acknowledging the often-dubious origins of the original objects themselves.

Sanford Biggers Transforms Rockefeller Center with New Campus-wide Public Art Exhibition
(Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Tishman Speyer)

This first-ever campus-wide survey commissioned by Rockefeller Center will include the iconic Rockefeller Center flagpoles, with flags that feature a unique wave illustration designed by Biggers. The selected design represents the elements wind and water and evokes ideas of movement, transformation, and flow. Biggers’ site-specific installations will also be on view in both prominent and unexpected public locations throughout the campus including the vitrines at 45 Rockefeller Plaza. Small-scale Chimera sculptures will be staged with backdrops and film stills from Biggers’ recent video works.

The murals displayed throughout the Rockefeller Center features Biggers’ Codex series, an ongoing series of mixed media paintings and sculptures done directly on or made from pre-1900 antique quilts. He considers his painted interventions on antique quilts to be a late-stage collaboration with their original creators. This body of work is deeply informed by American history and traditions. It sustains a rich dialog with contemporary art referencing urban culture, the body, sacred geometry, geometric abstraction, and American symbolism.

A 125-foot mural in the Center’s concourse, Just Us, displays a clouded sky punctured with the words “Just Us” in transparent font, filled with another cloud view. Just Us both evokes “justice” and highlights an unnamed group “us” suggesting the multifaceted and nuanced nature of the idea of “justice.” Here the conflation of text and image questions notions of stability and consistency of meaning within language.

Finally, a virtual experience will be incorporated to provide navigation throughout the entire public experience, as well as to connect viewers to additional video, audio and creative content related to Biggers’ work at the Center.

Sanford Biggers Transforms Rockefeller Center with New Campus-wide Public Art Exhibition
A flag exhibit featuring a unique wave illustration designed by artist Sanford Biggers is displayed using the iconic Rockefeller Center flagpoles, Wednesday, May 5, 2021, in New York.  (Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Tishman Speyer)

I’ve always been intrigued by Rockefeller Center for its architectural history and mythological references. Rockefeller Center is an ideal context for myth creation and allows me to experiment with this approach,” Biggers said. “I’m pleased for the opportunity to exhibit the largest Chimera sculpture to date alongside the artworks featured in Art In Focus. This combination enhances the persistence of myth while also producing a constellation of connections within each work and the site itself.

Sanford Biggers Transforms Rockefeller Center with New Campus-wide Public Art Exhibition
(Diane Bondareff/AP Images for Tishman Speyer)

“This spring is extra special for all of us – it’s a comeback and an awakening, it’s hopeful and optimistic, and celebrating it with Sanford Biggers’ art makes it all the more meaningful. As a New Yorker, Sanford was the perfect choice for our first campus-wide takeover by a solo artist. Public art is in our DNA, and it wouldn’t be spring in New York City without a dynamic public art experience at the Center.” – EB KELLY, TISHMAN SPEYER MANAGING DIRECTOR OVERSEEING ROCKEFELLER CENTER

“Having long admired Sanford Biggers practice, it is an honor to present this ambitious survey of his diverse work at the iconic Rockefeller Center. The multi-part exhibition is both visually seductive and deeply nuanced. Through a variety of media, Biggers gives the public a unique opportunity to reflect on themes essential to contemporary discourse.” – CASEY FREMONT, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, ART PRODUCTION FUND

“The 100+ permanent public art works across the Rock Center campus explore mythology and our relationship to history and culture, and Sanford’s ambitious collection continues that conversation with an artistic sensibility that differentiates him from many of his contemporary colleagues. This collaboration has been several years in the making, and we couldn’t be happier to see it take shape this spring as the city reawakens and returns to its full fervor. “ – MICHAELLA SOLAR-MARCH, TISHMAN SPEYER MANAGING DIRECTOR, GLOBAL HEAD OF MARKETING

“We are honored to represent Sanford Biggers and are grateful to Art Production Fund and Rockefeller Center for this opportunity as well as their vision and support. Throughout his career, Sanford has consistently demonstrated his acuity at melding historical sources with contemporary socio-political concerns; time after time presenting immediate, deeply relevant themes and imagery.” – MARIANNE BOESKY, FOUNDER, MARIANNE BOESKY GALLERY

The presentation of Oracle at Rockefeller Center is made possible with generous support from Tishman Speyer and Marianne Boesky Gallery with additional support from Sarah Arison.

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