The Public Art Fund has just announced a whimsical new spring installation for Rockefeller Center: A swimming pool on its side.
The piece is called Van Gogh's Ear, by the Scandinavian duo Elmgreen & Dragset, whose works include a rocking horse in London's Trafalgar Square; the Prada Marfa store/sculpture in Marfa, Texas; and a NYC subway station in the basement of the Bohen Foundation. From the Public Art Fund's press release:
Van Gogh’s Ear
is a sculpture, which takes the form of a swimming pool sitting upright. Its cyan blue interior, adorned with a polished stainless steel ladder, bright lights, and a diving board, opens up to the public traveling down Fifth Avenue, across from Saks Fifth Avenue. Conceived specifically for this site, where fashion, commerce, tourism, business, and art collide, the work playfully contradicts our expectations of both this familiar object and iconic site...
Displayed as if in a high-end retail showroom, the work continues the idea of Marcel Duchamp’s readymades, which debuted a century ago and featured ordinary objects elevated to the level of high art by the choice of the artist. In contrast with these works, which were often only slightly modified, Elmgreen & Dragset have carefully designed and crafted each detail of Van Gogh’s Ear to mimic a garden pool. Re-positioned in a pedestrian plaza surrounded by the busy life of tourists, skyscrapers, and businesses, the pool stands out as a surreal object uprooted from its usual environment. The sculptural elements of the pool itself—from the curves created by the different depths and its overall shape, to the protruding diving board—become apparent when it is singularly presented vertically and above ground. Elmgreen & Dragset render the pool devoid of function via its displacement, and in turn, prompt a simultaneously more cerebral, poetic, and aesthetic approach to the actual object as well as its setting.
The piece will be on view from April 13 through June 3, at the Fifth Avenue entrance to Rockefeller Center. The project is co-organized by Tishman Speyer, which owns Rockefeller Center, which has been home to many memorable works of public art, like Puppy, Maman and Her Spiders and Mr. Pointy.