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On a gloomy Monday morning, the sun broke through as we walked alongside world-renowned artist, architect, and engineer Santiago Calatrava. His new exhibition, supported by Marlborough Chelsea, NYC Parks, and the Fund for Park Avenue presents seven new sculptures on Park Avenue in Manhattan. The exhibition goes from 52nd Street to 55th Street on the avenue’s median. “It is so important to this exhibit, putting the sculptures in the public domain, not putting them in a gallery or museum but putting them on the street, so everybody can touch and see them, and can express their opinion,” said Calatrava on Monday to a group of press. “It creates the link within the special world of sculpture and this of architecture.”
The sculptures were made specifically for the site, created in red, black, and silver. According to Calatrava, picking the colors was a particular process, individual to each sculpture. Largely inspired by nature, the large abstract works “grow from the ground” but have a New York City twist. The shape, form, colors, and the aluminum material reflect the local architecture and movement of Park Ave. The bustling cars, pedestrians, and the angular skyscrapers were all in mind when creating this public project. The sculptures mimic the energy of the neighborhood. Some are set quite close to pedestrian crosswalks, creating an opportunity for an intimate viewing experience.
“On Park Avenue” is cohesive, dynamic, and follows a compositional pattern. Each sculpture works together in what Calatrava described as familia. The first sculpture on 52nd Street and the last on 55th Street follow a similar design, signaling a cohesive closing to the symmetrical exhibition.
While Calatrava might be best known as an architect, the man behind hard-to-miss World Trade Center Transportation Hub, he has always seen himself as an artist. “What is important for you to understand is that in all those years working as an architect and engineer that I always worked as a sculptor,” Calatrava explained on Monday.
In fact, his sculptures have been exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York in 2005, the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg in 2012, and the Vatican Museum in Rome in 2013. At the end of the tour, Calatrava expressed his gratitude to everyone who was involved, noting that this was his first experience displaying his sculptures within a public space. “I love this experience,” he said.