E: Admiral Farragut Memorial
The current art in the park is "Delirious Matter" by artist Diana Al-Hadid. It is
on view through September 3, 2018. Six new sculptures will be
installed across Madison Square Park's central Oval Lawn, peripheral lawns, and
northern reflecting pool. Delirious Matter is the artist's first major public art
In spring 2018, artist Diana Al-Hadid (American, b. Aleppo, Syria 1981, lives and works in Brooklyn) will create newly commissioned sculptures in Madison Square Park. Two wall works will be combined with rows of hedges to form a room suggesting the elegiac beauty of deteriorating structures nestled into plant material. Three reclining female figures, titled Synonym, sit on plinths and will be displayed on the surrounding lawns. In the Park's reflecting pool, the artist will realize a site-specific sculptural bust of a female figure perched atop a fragmented mountain. Al-Hadid is best known for creating work using traditional and contemporary sculpture materials and processes in unfamiliar ways that pivot amongst architecture, figuration, and abstraction. Despite the eroded appearance, the process is additive. Al-Hadid devised a distinctive process that is, in her words, "a blend between fresco and tapestry." Delirious Matter is the first project by the artist and the first Conservancy commission to unite sculpture with plant materials.
Al-Hadid draws influences from the disrupted typologies of architecture, antiquity, cosmology, and Old Master paintings. She finds inspiration in numerous and varied sources such as ancient frescoes, caves, Northern Renaissance art, Islamic miniatures, ancient time-telling devices, and the modern sculpture of Italian Medardo Rosso. These various interests reflect her perspective as an immigrant from Syria who moved to Ohio when she was a child. She has said: "I was educated by Modernist instructors in the Midwest, but also was raised in an Islamic household with a culture that very much prizes narrative and folklore."
Her work is therefore indebted to storytelling and to a close study of Modernist principles. Al-Hadid's walls on the Oval Lawn measure thirty-six feet long by fourteen feet high and twenty-two feet long by fourteen feet high. Their porous structures enable the viewer to see through the sculpture, to breach the wall. The imagery of these delicate facades stands in contrast to the strapping canyon of early twentieth-century skyscrapers surrounding Madison Square Park. The apparent fragility of Al-Hadid's materials - a delicately poured polymer modified gypsum and fiberglass - is belied by its toughness and resilience. This inherent tension functions as an essential aspect of the project.