press release

New York, NY - This summer New York City will be the site of two of the most elegant construction zones ever when the Public Art Fund and Madison Square Park Conservancy present "Gothic," a series of sculptural works by Belgian artist Wim Delvoye. This two-part exhibition, on view simultaneously at Madison Square Park and Doris C. Freedman Plaza, will be the fourth time that the Public Art Fund and Madison Square Park have worked together to present works by major artists from around the world.

In Wim Delvoye's wide-ranging artistic practice, opposites attract: Divine merges with secular, past meets present, and ornament overcomes strict functionality. In his life-size replicas of Caterpillar excavators, Delvoye juxtaposes medieval craftsmanship with machine-age technology. These massive sculptures are made in corten steel and perforated with Gothic filigree. Caterpillar will be on view at Doris C. Freedman Plaza and at Madison Square Park a second Caterpillar sculpture will be on view as part of Chantier, a full construction site of equally elegant Gothic equipment: Shovels, a pile of sand, a wheelbarrow, barricades, traffic cones, and a concrete mixer all stand at the ready.

From Notre Dame Cathedral to St. John the Divine, Gothic architecture looms large in our cultural imagination: Its breathtaking verticality was a sign of dazzling architectural feat, achieved one stone at a time by generations of workers and artisans. These days, heavy machinery like excavators, bulldozers, and cranes can accomplish almost overnight what once took decades. But in Wim Delvoye's sculptures, these two far-flung eras come together, and one can even find formal similarities between the reaching, angular arms of Delvoye's earthmovers and the soaring towers of a Gothic cathedral.

There are visible references to Notre Dame in the squared-off double cab and circular rose window of Madison Square Park's Caterpillar, but all of the sculptures in the series are actually an amalgamation of Gothic structures. Repeated arches, intricately patterned florets and undulating lines transform these familiar icons of productivity into ornate, non-utilitarian objects. The "Gothic" works grow out of an ongoing series in which Delvoye applies traditional craft and folk art practices to various industrial objects: He has hand-painted gas canisters with blue Delftware windmill motifs, enameled ironing boards with medieval coat-of-arms, and worked with Indonesian woodcarvers to make a Baroque-styled teak cement truck.

A native of Belgium, Delvoye's interest in Gothic, Baroque and other Old World decorative styling stems from the familiar surroundings of his youth. Delvoye has called his approach to art-making "glocal," a tongue-in-cheek term to describe art that is at once local and global in its focus. His monumental Caterpillars, rendered in corten steel-Richard Serra's medium of choice-take that one step further, bringing together Flemish decorative artistry, global industry, and contemporary art history.

ABOUT THE ARTIST Wim Delvoye was born in 1965 in Wervik, Belgium and lives in Ghent. He has had recent solo exhibitions at the New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York; Sperone Westwater, New York; Manchester Art Gallery, England; Musée de Art Contemporain de Lyon, France; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris. He has participated in major international exhibitions including the 48th Venice Biennale (1999) and Documenta IX in Kassel, Germany (1992). Pressetext

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Wim Delvoye - Gothic

26.06.03 - 31.10.03 Madison Square Park
26.06.03 - 22.09.03 Doris C. Freedman Plaza