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Awol Erizku, Melvin Edwards, Claudia Wieser, Martine Gutierrez, Gillian Wearing: 2021 Exhibitions

Awol Erizku, Melvin Edwards, Claudia Wieser, Martine Gutierrez, Gillian Wearing: 2021 Exhibitions


Public Art Fund’s 2021 exhibition program will feature five solo exhibitions by internationally acclaimed artists working across a range of mediums. Beginning on February 24, Awol Erizku will debut a new series of portraits and still-lives on JCDecaux bus shelters in both New York and Chicago. Inspired by the recent birth of Erizku’s daughter, New Visions for Iris will present a new visual vernacular that unpacks pressing contemporary issues around identity and religion. In May, a thematic survey of sculptor Melvin Edwards’s signature welded metal work from the 1970s to today will be on public view for the first time at City Hall Park. The exhibition highlights two key motifs—the chain and the rocker—and features a new large-scale commission for the south end of the park. The summer begins at Brooklyn Bridge Park with Claudia Wieser’s first-ever outdoor public artwork; a grouping of large-scale geometric structures composed of hand painted tiles, photographs of New York City, and mirror polished stainless steel will be in dialogue with the Manhattan Bridge and DUMBO’s surrounding architecture, creating an immersive experience for the public to explore. In August, photographer and performance artist Martine Gutierrez’s unique series of self-portraits representing powerful historical figures including Cleopatra, Mulan, and Sacagawea will appear concurrently on 350 JCDecaux bus shelters across New York City and Chicago. In the fall, Gillian Wearing’s tribute to photographer Diane Arbus will stand in Doris C. Freedman Plaza at the entrance to Central Park. The park was a favorite location for Arbus to find and photograph her subjects. The sculptural monument coincides with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s major Gillian Wearing survey exhibition to open on November 5, 2021.

“Over the past year, the pandemic has highlighted our shared outdoor spaces as essential community resources and spaces of both physical and spiritual renewal.” says Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. “We’re proud to continue to bring new work to New York City—and now Chicago—where the public will experience groundbreaking artworks by Awol Erizku, Melvin Edwards, Claudia Wieser, Martine Gutierrez, and Gillian Wearing safely, openly, and for free.”

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Opening July 2021
Brooklyn Bridge Park

Berlin-based Claudia Wieser is known for her Modernist-inspired geometric constructions that reference Bauhaus architecture and design, spirituality, alchemy, and furniture design, with a nod to 20th century abstract and expressionist artists such as Hilma af Klint, Wassily Kandinsky, and Paul Klee. In July 2021, the German artist will unveil her first outdoor public commission, a cluster of angular sculptures that will be the focal point of the iconic terminus of Washington Street in DUMBO, Brooklyn. Nestled among historic brick buildings and cobblestones where the Manhattan Bridge frames the Empire State Building, the structures will occupy the plaza at the Main Street entrance to Brooklyn Bridge Park creating an immersive environment that hearkens back to ancient Roman forums, acting as both a meeting place and a theatrical set where park goers become actors in their own urban narrative. The sculptures range in height from eight to 13-feet and will feature colorful hand-painted glazed tiles, combined with imagery depicting the city, and reflective stainless steel. Juxtaposing and echoing the surrounding architecture to highlight the dynamism of the city and its inhabitants, the work’s mirrored surfaces will invite the public into the exhibition, enabling them to pause and escape for a moment.

Claudia Wieser: Rehearsal is curated by Public Art Fund Assistant Curator Katerina Stathopoulou.


Opening August 2021
JCDecaux Bus Shelters Across New York, NY & Chicago, IL

For the fifth iteration of Public Art Fund’s partnership with JCDecaux, Brooklyn-based photographer and performance artist Martine Gutierrez will continue her exploration of identity across the cultural landscapes of race, gender, class, and celebrity. Transformed into a multitude of roles, she will create new photographic interpretations of a diverse canon of radical historical and legendary figures, using solely herself as the performer. Through the use of wigs, makeup, disguises, natural elements, and props, Gutierrez captures earthly representations of idols including Cleopatra, Joan of Arc, Mulan, Sacagawea, and the Virgin of Guadalupe, among others, who will appear on JCDecaux bus shelters in 200 locations in New York and 150 in Chicago. “When summoning direction in these uncertain times, the chronicles of the divine feminine endure—the leading women of mankind—the femmes of our forefathers,” says Gutierrez. “Not celebrity or starlet, but a symbol martyred. These anti-icons embody the radical ethos of femininity, challenging history through their strength, perseverance, and beauty.”

Martine Gutierrez: ANTI-ICON is curated by Public Art Fund Assistant Curator Katerina Stathopoulou.


Opening October 2021
Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park

British conceptual artist Gillian Wearing’s cast bronze tribute to the groundbreaking photographer Diane Arbus will be on view at Central Park’s Doris C. Freedman Plaza beginning in October. Arbus lived near and frequented the park, which was much like an open-air studio where she interacted with everyday New Yorkers and created what would become some of her most celebrated works. Wearing has chosen to depict Arbus at lifesize, poised with her finger on the shutter button of her camera as she might have appeared in the park. Presented informally, at street level without a plinth, passersby are able to experience the work up close. Details of the sculpture—including Arbus’s shoes and parts of the camera—will be painted realistically to further humanize the appearance of the bronze statue, while a plaque will accompany the monument bearing Arbus’s name and quote, “If you scrutinize reality closely enough, if in some way you really, really get to it, it becomes fantastic.” The installation coincides with the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum’s major survey of Wearing’s work, Gillian Wearing: Wearing Masks, opening on November 5, 2021.

Gillian Wearing’s exhibition is curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume with Assistant Curator Katerina Stathopoulou.

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