Martin Creed: Understanding

About the Exhibition

Times Square marquees, roadside signs, and advertising logos are the stock-in-trade for giant neon signs. Martin Creed has adapted the medium for his own colossal sign, proclaiming a word rather than selling a product. His chosen word, “understanding,” is fundamental to communication between people. Spelled out in ten-foot-tall letters mounted on a 50-foot-long steel I-beam, Understanding rotates 360 degrees, constantly shifting our perspective on the work. The beam spins at varying speeds, the rhythm determined by a computerized program designed by the artist.

A prolific interdisciplinary artist and musician, Martin Creed has become one of Britain’s best known artists for his playful, poetic, and sometimes provocative work. Simple and direct, Understanding invites us to make our own interpretations. Is his bright red neon a strident demand for more understanding in a world of indifference? Or does it celebrate the abundance of that very human attribute in a popular community park? Is it an ironic response to an increasingly polarized political landscape, or a sincere statement of our need for sympathy and mutual comprehension? Creed has designed the base of his sculpture as a social space, a stepped platform on which visitors may gather to enjoy the view – and perhaps debate the limits and possibilities of human understanding.

One of Great Britain’s most acclaimed contemporary artists and a 2001 Turner Prize winner, Creed works in a wide array of media including sculpture, painting, installation, choreography, and music. Making use of existing materials and situations, the artist creates works that question the definition of art with playful approach to conceptual minimalism. His logical and deadpan approach to art making is evident in the names he gives to his works, which are titled in numerical and sequential order. One of his best known pieces is Work No. 1197, All the Bells in a Country Rung as Quickly and Loudly as Possible for Three Minutes (2012), which Creed presented on the occasion of the 2012 Olympic Games in London. Thousands participated in the piece, ringing bells from Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament in London to Millennium Square in Bristol to St Albans Cathedral in Hertfordshire, and in hundreds of other churches and community centers throughout the United Kingdom to usher in the Olympics. This new piece for Brooklyn Bridge Park, Work No. 2630, UNDERSTANDING (2016), is the third and biggest iteration of the artist’s large-scale rotating neon text sculptures, which include Work No. 1357, Mothers (2012) (exhibited in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago), and Work No. 2070, People (2014). Public Art Fund previously presented Creed’s now-famed Work No. 225, EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT (1999) on the façade the Hilton Times Square in 2000.

Understanding operates 6:00am – 11:00pm daily.

This exhibition was developed by former Public Art Fund Curator Andria Hickey



Pier 6, Brooklyn Bridge Park

End of Pier 6 (6:00am - 11:00pm)

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About the Artist

Martin Creed (b. 1968, Wakefield, England) lives and works in London. Solo exhibitions of his work have been recently presented at the Hayward Gallery, London (2014); Tate Britain, London (2013); The Andy Warhol Museum, Pittsburgh (2013); the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago (2012); MAMAC, France (2011); and the Moscow Museum of Modern Art (2010). He was the recipient of the Turner Prize in 2001 for Work No. 227: The Lights Going On And Off. An accomplished musician, he has released several albums including Mind Trap (2014), Chicago (2012) and Love to You (2012). His latest album is due to be released this summer. His work is held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the Tate in London, and the Cleveland Museum of Art. He studied at Slade School of Fine Art in London. Creed is represented by Gavin Brown’s Enterprise and Hauser & Wirth.