This summer, the Metropolitan Museum of Art invited Brooklyn based artist Roxy Paine to design a site specific installation in The Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. In keeping with the garden’s aboreal surroundings, Paine has installed a variation on his classic stainless steel defoliated trees. For the rooftop installation Paine has situated each tree that comprises the small copse sideways, as if blown over by a strong gust of wind. Fittingly, Paine has titled the piece Maelstrom. (The Met’s rooftop bar is also serving a cocktail of the same name.)
Known for his fascination with nature and machines, Paine’s series of stainless steel trees are a perfect meeting of the nature vs. machine dichotomy of his art practice. Like his sculptures of mushrooms, poppy plants, and rotten vegetable gardens, the trees look strikingly realistic, imposing oak trees depicted as they are in deep winter. But these trees are metal and made up of hundreds of individual pieces of metal sutured together with a blow torch, reminiscent of the elaborate machines Paine created earlier in his career that churned out acrylic paintings or resin globs.
With the Maelstrom installation Paine joins an elite group of sculptors who have exhibited their work above the treeline of Central Park. Last year Jeff Koons showed his inflatable dog, and past participants include Roy Lichtenstein, Joel Shapiro, Sol Lewitt, Christo and Jean-Claude, and Andy Goldsworthy.
Images: Shiela Griffin, Courtesy James Cohan Gallery