Cristos Gianakos: Eclipse

About the Exhibition

Cristos Gianakos (b.1934, New York City, NY) has installed a new sculpture on the traffic island (also called the “traffic remnant”) located at West Broadway between Chambers and Hudson streets. Gianakos’s structure, Eclipse, is a truncated pyramid constructed of wood slates spaced apart in a lattice-like grid, whose upper section encloses a sharply angled ramp.

Raking angles and ramps are characteristic of Gianakos’s work, and have as their source the ruins of Egypt (the Temple of Hatshepsut, for instance, is remarkable for its enormous and solemn access ramps); also those of Crete and Greece, where the artist spent a great deal of time as a child. Gianakos’s formal concerns indicate the links between classical paradigms and the equally austere yet sensuous elegance of recent Minimalist art. As critic William Zimmer has pointed out, however, “Minimalism is one avenue to these pieces, but with Gianakos one bypasses terminology very quickly.” Russian Constructivism and Suprematism, and artists as various as Brancusi, de Chirico and Franz Kline, have all affected his aesthetic process. Gianakos reduces forms to what he calls “the least common denominator, without frills and veneer.”

The traffic remnant, which separates up and downtown traffic, is not generally used as a gathering spot, so this sculpture will be seen primarily by viewers in motion. It thus takes on a topographical role similar to that of the kinds of urban relics most often identified with Old World cities such as Rome. The artist, who usually works with raw wood, has painted this piece red in order to ease its harmony with the numerous red-brick buildings in the area. Eclipse will remain on view for a six-month period, during which time it will stand as a modern reminder of the spiritual grandeur inherent in spare, classical form.



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