The much anticipated, newly renovated David Geffen Hall opens to the public on October 8, 2022 ~ home of the New York Philharmonic and new welcoming cultural home for New York. Completed two years early with a transformative design by Diamond Schmitt Architects and Tod Williams Billie Tsien Architects, the project represents a statement of faith in New York and its artistic community, while delivering jobs and economic development at a crucial time for the city’s rebound.
In addition to being the premiere home of the New York Philharmonic, David Geffen Hall is meant to be a cultural home for everyone, with welcome extended through programming and artistic activations that memorialize and reckon with Lincoln Center’s history, as well as look to the future. The reimagined David Geffen Hall welcomes all who visit with generosity, warmth and fun.
As part of the reopening, two site-specific visual artworks by Nina Chanel Abney and Jacolby Satterwhite were commissioned for the Hall, beckoning those who may have never interacted with Lincoln Center or the New York Philharmonic to see the institutions in a new way—the result of a partnership between Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, The Studio Museum in Harlem and Public Art Fund.
“With their extraordinary new commissions, Nina Chanel Abney and Jacolby Satterwhite offer all of us a thrilling vision of a more democratic cultural future: emerging artists and groundbreaking artforms providing captivating experiences for audiences new and old,” says Nicholas Baume, Artistic & Executive Director of Public Art Fund. “Their artworks acknowledge a sometimes-painful past, and at the same time are brilliantly joyful and celebratory expressions of creative healing. With powerful insights wrapped in sheer invention, they inspire us as they open the doors to generations to come.”
Thelma Golden, Director and Chief Curator of The Studio Museum in Harlem, says, “These bold and exciting new works by Nina Chanel Abney and Jacolby Satterwhite connect us deeply and imaginatively with artists of the past, present, and future while making the meanings of this site palpable across generations. I am thrilled that The Studio Museum has been able to collaborate with Lincoln Center and Public Art Fund to inaugurate the new David Geffen Hall in such a spirit of creativity, energy, and public engagement.”
Nina Chanel Abney, San Juan Heal, 2022
Abney’s San Juan Heal enlivens the building’s nearly 200-foot-long 65th Street façade with a unique iconography inspired by the rich cultural heritage and complex history of San Juan Hill. The installation features 35 icons: portraits of some of the neighborhood’s pioneers and celebrated musicians, as well as symbols and text derived from the era’s protest flyers. At the center of the grid is the word “Love.”
“As someone who enjoys creating public installations, I couldn’t have asked for a better canvas to work on—with so much visibility—than David Geffen Hall’s 65th Street façade,” says artist Nina Chanel Abney. “My goal is to pay homage to the San Juan Hill Neighborhood while simultaneously sparking a conversation about its history as it relates to our present and future. I see my work as the exclamation point to an already epic structure.”
Jacolby Satterwhite, An Eclectic Dance to the Music of Time, 2022
Satterwhite’s dreamlike video, An Eclectic Dance to the Music of Time, tells a new story of the past, present, and future of Lincoln Center. Activating the Hauser Digital Wall, the video is set into a digitally animated landscape inspired by Central Park and surrounded by buildings reminiscent of Times Square. Featuring archival materials from Lincoln Center, Satterwhite weaves these historic moments together with new footage of the next generation of performers—the diverse future audiences and performers of Lincoln Center.
“Lincoln Center is such a monumentally important institution, and it’s an honor to be a part of telling its story,” says artist Jacolby Satterwhite. “There are so many different types of people who performed and participated in the success and growth of the Lincoln Center and the New York Philharmonic, and I am working to place them at the forefront. The young performers showcased in my video represent a better future, where every type of human being has a principal role.”
Opening will be marked throughout the month of October and feature many firsts, beginning with the World Premiere performances of San Juan Hill: A New York Story by composer Etienne Charles, commissioned by Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts for the New York Philharmonic, and performed by Etienne Charles and Creole Soul alongside the orchestra, conducted by Music Director Jaap van Zweden.
Choose-What-You-Pay tickets for San Juan Hill: A New York Story are now on sale. In addition, a limited number of free tickets will be available on October 8 at the Welcome Center at David Geffen Hall, opening at 10am.
The project re-imagines the entire concert-going experience, creating a new state-of-the-art theater serving as the home of the New York Philharmonic and accommodating a diverse range of artists and audiences. The new David Geffen Hall features improved accessibility throughout. At the same time, thousands of square feet of new public space for diverse cultural performance and community uses has been created—much of it free to the public. The reimagined space has achieved all this while respecting the iconic exterior.
The Wu Tsai Theater has been transformed into a warm, curvilinear hall that creates a more welcoming and intimate audience experience, with optimized sight lines and exceptional acoustics on each tier. Seating has been reduced by 500 to 2,200 and wraps around the theater in order to improve acoustics and bring each seat 30% closer to the performers, in addition to new flexible seating behind the Jerry Speyer and Katherine Farley Stage, which has been moved forward by 25 feet.
The theater design’s state-of-the-art flexibility offers new capabilities and configurations, as motorized stage lifts and built-in screens will accommodate dance, film premieres, amplified rock concerts and more, ensuring new and exciting opportunities for the next generation of composers and performers.
Ribbon Cutting and First Public Performance at the new David Geffen Hall will take place on October 8, 2022 ~ and Open House Weekend, October 29th and 30th, featuring hundreds of artists animating the entire Hall with free performances, participatory activities and family events.
Jacolby Satterwhite is celebrated for a conceptual practice addressing crucial themes of labor, consumption, carnality, and fantasy through immersive installation, virtual reality, and digital media. He uses a range of software to produce intricately detailed animations and live action film of real and imagined worlds populated by the avatars of artists and friends. These animations serve as the stage on which the artist synthesizes the multiple disciplines that encompass his practice, namely painting, performance, illustration, sculpture, photography, and writing. Satterwhite draws from an extensive set of references, guided by queer theory, modernism, and video game language to challenge conventions of Western art through a personal and political lens. An equally significant influence is that of his late mother, Patricia Satterwhite, whose ethereal vocals and diagrams for visionary household products serve as the source material within a decidedly complex structure of memory and mythology. Satterwhite received his BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Arts, Baltimore and his MFA from the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. His work has been presented in numerous exhibitions and festivals internationally, including most recently at Haus der Kunst, Munich,2021; Gwangju Biennale, Gwangju,(2021; and Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus, OH, 2021.
Nina Chanel Abney is known for combining representation and abstraction. Her paintings capture the frenetic pace of contemporary culture. Broaching subjects as diverse as race, celebrity, religion, politics, sex, and art history, her works eschew linear storytelling in lieu of disjointed narratives. The effect is information overload, balanced with a kind of spontaneous order, where time and space are compressed and identity is interchangeable. Her distinctively bold style harnesses the flux and simultaneity that have come to define life in the 21st century. Through a bracing use of color and unapologetic scale, Abney’s canvases propose a new type of history painting, one grounded in the barrage of everyday events and funneled through the velocity of the internet.
Abney’s work is included in collections around the world, including the Brooklyn Museum, The Rubell Family Collection, Bronx Museum, and the Burger Collection, Hong Kong. Her first solo museum exhibition, Nina Chanel Abney: Royal Flush, curated by Marshall Price, was presented in 2017 at the Nasher Museum of Art, North Carolina. It traveled to the Chicago Cultural Center and then to Los Angeles, where it was jointly presented by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, and the California African American Museum. The final venue for the exhibition was the Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase College, State University of New York.
Thank you to Public Art Fund for this extensive update and images for this project.