They Might Be Giants

POSTED ON: August 1, 2019


A sculpture by Leonardo Drew, known for his multilayered collages, is on view at Madison Square Park until December 15. Installed as part of the park’s public art program. The work, entitled “City in the Grass,” dramatizes the exciting and potent confrontation between natural and manmade landscapes.

Brooke Kamin Rapaport, exhibition curator for Madison Square Park’s Conservancy, recently noted how the sculpture plays with scale: ”Viewers can look onto ‘City in the Grass’ as if they are giants assessing a terrain; upon sitting along the Oval Lawn’s green expanse, they will be able to embed themselves within the fabric of the sculpture.”

Two towers looking like the finials of Art Deco skyscrapers are surrounded by a "Persian carpet" made of aluminum covered in colored sand, laid out like rolling hills and punctuated with areas of grass. Underneath the towers—one painted a pale blue reminiscent of the oxidized copper common to park statuary— are dozens of blocks looking like a dense city skyline. The piece reads like a diorama—think the Queens Museum’s Panorama of the City of New York but steeped in color with multiple scales on view all at once.

Mr. Drew, a 1985 graduate of the School of Art, conceived of the work as one made in tandem with park visitors who are free to interact with the sculpture, Mr. Drew's first public art installation. In a recent interview with The Brooklyn Rail,the artist described seeing two children take a piece of material off of the sculpture, an action he saw as wholly in keeping with the aim of the installation: “The viewer is absolutely complicit in realizing the work. I’ve always taken that on as a philosophy, that it’s not just my journey but a collective one.”

On August 6, Professor Leslie Hewitt A'00 will lead a discussion about the work at Madison Square Park from 6 PM – 7 PM

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