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Liz Glynn brings turn-of-the-century grandeur to Central Park with her open-air ballroom

The Los Angeles-based sculptor is also in the spotlight next month with a show of Rodin-inspired works at Paula Cooper Gallery

by Gareth Harris  |  26 December 2016
Liz Glynn brings turn-of-the-century grandeur to Central Park with her open-air ballroom
Ballroom of the former William Collins Whitney Mansion on Fifth Avenue
New Yorkers can enter a gilded ballroom next spring in Central Park courtesy of Liz Glynn. The Los Angeles-based artist will present her version of the grandiose William C. Whitney ballroom, which once stood in a Fifth Avenue mansion located eight blocks away, at the 3,500 sq. ft Doris C. Freedman Plaza located at the park’s southeast entrance.

Liz Glynn, cast concrete chair from Open House (Image: courtesy of the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery. Photo by Liz Ligon, courtesy of Public Art Fund)
Liz Glynn, cast concrete chair from Open House (Image: courtesy of the artist and Paula Cooper Gallery. Photo by Liz Ligon, courtesy of Public Art Fund)
For the new Public Art Fund commission, entitled Open House (1 March-24 September), Glynn will re-create the 18th-century ballroom furniture, from sofas to footstools, in cast concrete. The artist, who combed numerous historic archives in the city, describes the piece as a “ruin”; her portal to the bygone Gilded Age period reflects Glynn’s ongoing interest in issues such as class and social rituals.

Whitney, a wealthy politician, hired the architect Stanford White to renovate 871 Fifth Avenue at a cost of around $3.5m. The huge, opulent ballroom opened in January 1901 but the mansion was torn down in the early 1940s. “Glynn’s installation poses important questions about how we create displays of wealth and the ways in which distinctions between public and private space continue to reinforce and reflect class differences,” says Daniel Palmer, Public Art Fund associate curator, in a statement.

A series of works by Glynn are also due to go on show at the Paula Cooper gallery next month in New York (7 January-11 February). The bronze sculptures were made as part of a site-specific performance project called The Myth of Singularity which was unveiled at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (Lacma) in 2013.
 
“After mining through the Lacma collection, she felt a special connection with Auguste Rodin’s oeuvre and his use of the collaging process, echoing her own obsession with the process of constructing and deconstructing,” says a press statement.
 
With the assistance of eight sculptors, Glynn took plaster casts of portions of Rodin’s posthumously cast bronzes in the museum collection. These moulds were then reconfigured and reshaped by Glynn into a series of fragmentary sculptures during the two-day performance at Lacma. All eight bronze works produced will be shown at Paula Cooper Gallery.
 
The exhibition will also include a new performance piece by Glynn entitled Regarding the Pain of Others. The work focuses on “empathy and somatic responses” to the 2016 US Presidential election.

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