You might remember DDW’s introduction to New York artist Alex Da Corte back in February, shortly after he was announced as the latest name to take on the New York Met’s Roof Garden Commission.
ICYMI, the New York Met’s Roof Garden Commission is one of the most highly-coveted exhibition spots at the gallery, with eclectic installations by artists such as Hector Zamora, Alicja Kwade and Adrián Villar Rojas having overlooked the famous Manhattan skyline in the past.
Judging by his surrealist, vibrant and nostalgic body of work – a collection that has seen him gain plenty of fans over the course of the previous decade – it seemed that Alex Da Corte was the perfect choice to take on the challenge in a year when bright, conceptual art has provided a creative contrast from the increasingly bleak reality we’ve been living in.
Comments made by New York Met representatives at the time of the announcement seemed to hint towards this, too. Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art, Sheena Wagstaff stated that the installation would look to evoke “a utopian possibility of innocence and play in the face of these times of melancholic collapse”.
Meanwhile, Max Hollein, The Met’s Marina Kellen French director, commented on the ‘notions of uncertainty, nostalgia, sadness and hope’ represented within the work.
“Da Corte has created a work of art that meets the present moment and its challenges with the promise of optimism”, a statement said.
Two months on and we get to see these promises come to fruition, as Alex Da Corte’s long-awaited Roof Garden Commission, As Long As The Sun Lasts, has finally been unveiled to Met visitors – and nostalgia is certainly the name of the game.
Standing at 26-foot tall and including a giant, working mobile (inspired by celebrated sculptor Alexander Calder), the figure at the centre of the installation will be familiar to anyone who grew up watching the iconic children’s series Sesame Street. Yes, that is Big Bird!
Describing the work in an updated announcement, a statement released by The Met says:
“With his design, Da Corte evokes the liveliness and unpredictability of (Alexander) Calder’s practice, while also emphasizing a do-it-yourself inventiveness by fashioning the base of the work in the modular language of an outdoor activity set by Little Tikes, which requires no tools for assembly and can be easily reconfigured.”
“Suspended from near the top of the sculpture, covered in roughly 7,000 individually placed laser-cut aluminium feathers, Big Bird is found perched on a crescent moon with a ladder in hand—suggesting the possibility of passage back to Earth or to other galaxies.”
So, what was the reason behind Da Corte’s decision to give the Sesame Street favourite a new all-blue look?
“Sitting alone, gazing out at the New York skyline, Big Bird has an introspective, melancholic disposition that is amplified by Da Corte’s decision to render the character in blue instead of yellow,” the statement continues.
“This choice of colour also gestures to the artist’s personal associations with Big Bird: growing up partially in Venezuela, he watched the Brazilian version of Sesame Street, in which Big Bird’s counterpart, Garibaldo, was blue.”
Colourful, fun and evoking no shortage of childhood memories, this new installation fits in perfectly with the rest of Da Corte’s impressive catalogue of work – which most famously includes his kitsch, far-out look at the Wicked Witch of the West from The Wizard Of Oz in the form of experimental exhibition Die Hexe (The Witch).
If you ask us, this inarguably wholesome installation is the perfect creative response to a pandemic that has well and truly outstayed its welcome, so we definitely recommend taking a trip to the Met’s rooftop to enjoy it in person before As Long As The Sun Lasts closes on October 31st.