About the Exhibition
Conversation Piece (2001) is a group of five life-size bronze figures, each of which bear the characteristic qualities of Juan Muñoz's figurative works: round heads, mute faces with similar features, and expressive gestures. With their oversized rounded bases, wrinkled and bulging, the sculptures seem at once limp and unwieldy. The five figures of Conversation Piece variously lean together, whisper, and ignore one other, transforming the plaza into a theatrical space where a mysterious drama plays out. With his series—and with this compelling example in particular—Muñoz (1953-2001, b. Madrid, Spain) added a new twist to the phrase "conversation piece," the term used to describe a genre of 17th- and 18th-century English and Dutch paintings of social gatherings in domestic interiors or garden settings. Here, sited at the busy southeastern corner of Central Park, Muñoz's psychologically charged scene is as complex and ambiguous as its historical antecedents are intimate and precise.