New York’s Public Art Fund Presents ‘Open House’

A phto of the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park.

The Doris C. Freedman Plaza located in Central Park, New York.
Photo courtesy of jinjian liang at Flickr Creative Commons.

2017 marks the 40th year of the Public Art Fund, New York City’s non-profit dedicated to keeping the city full of contemporary art and new artists in public spaces. They’ll be celebrating all year, but one of the works that visitors can’t afford to miss is Liz Glynn’s “Open House,” an open-air installation in Central Park that will bring opulent history out for all to enjoy.

From March until September, Glynn’s sculptures will appear in Doris C. Freedman Plaza in one corner of Central Park. Cast concrete replicas of elegant furniture in blueish white. Specifically, replicas of the furnishings of the ballroom of William C. Whitney’s mansion, an edifice that once stood in state just up the street from the Park on Fifth Avenue. It was demolished in the early ‘40s, but was an icon of style for Manhattan.

Mr. Whitney’s mansion was far from a public space. His parties were renowned for their exclusivity.

“The idea is turning this rarefied, extremely private space into an open-air ruin,” said Glynn in an interview in 2015. “The title refers to the current real estate market and the question of who can afford to live here anymore.”

While none of Whitney’s collection is intact, Glynn came as close to her source material as she could, studying archival photos in the Museum of the City of New York, and reading novels by Edith Wharton, who often visited the mansion in the late 1800s. Her concrete cast sculptures even show off the embroidery that lushly decorated the delicate chairs and sofas.

While she’s been working on the sculptures for the better part of three years, she hints that it may have only grown in relevance. Much of the furnishings are in the style of Louis XIV, just like the nearby apartment belonging to a much more contemporary celebrity: President-Elect Donald Trump.

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