Siah Armajani: Bridge Over Tree

About the Exhibition

Today, it is hard to grasp how radical this work by Siah Armajani (American, b. 1939, Teheran, Iran) was when first conceived nearly 50 years ago. Interactivity and immersive experiences have since become cultural buzzwords and artistic strategies. Architectural form and sculptural practice now often share a common language. However, when originally shown in a Minneapolis public park in 1970 as part of a temporary sculpture exhibition, Bridge Over Tree was barely recognizable as a work of art. For the first time, this seminal installation has been recreated by the artist for presentation by Public Art Fund.

The basic construction and materials of Armajani’s bridge are straightforward. Timber trusses and decking covered by a shingle roof evoke the vernacular of early American bridge design. That sense of familiarity is challenged by its form, which rises and falls at a sharp angle in the center to accommodate a single evergreen tree. Released from the customary function of a bridge to efficiently link two points, this structure follows a different logic. As public sculptures go, it is large; as a bridge in New York City, it may be among the most intimate. Yet its angular forms still echo those of its massive, iconic neighbors, as well as the stepped and peaked rooflines of the Manhattan skyline. Bridge Over Tree invites us to experience the idea of a bridge in a new way. In a world of walls and barriers, what does it mean to create points of connection, to establish relationships among different things, to invite interaction, and to build a bridge between the world and the poetic imagination?

Siah Armajani: Bridge Over Tree is curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume.



Brooklyn Bridge Park, Empire Fulton Ferry Lawn

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About the Artist

Siah Armajani (b.1939 Tehran, Iran) was born in Iran and moved to the United States in 1960 to attend Macalester College in Minnesota, where he continues to live and work. Armajani’s most celebrated public art works are bridges, walkways, and gardens, including the Irene Hixon Whitney Bridge, Minneapolis, MN; the World Financial Center’s promenade (in collaboration with Scott Burton and Cesar Pelli), Battery Park City, NY; Gazebo for Two Anarchists at Storm King Art Center, Mountainville, NY; Floating Poetry Room, Ijborg, Amsterdam, The Netherlands; Bridge for Iowa City, University of Iowa; and numerous gardens at Villa Arson Museum, Nice, France. Armajani was commissioned to design the Cauldron for the 1996 Centennial Olympic Celebration in Atlanta, GA.