The Met Announces 2024 Commissions ~ Petrit Halilaj in The Roof Garden ~ Lee Bul in The Met Facade Niches ~ Tong Yang-Tze in The Great Hall

 

 

 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art New York, Exterior courtesy of The Met

The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today the artists for the 2024 contemporary commissions. Kosovar artist Petrit Halilaj (born 1986, Kostërc, former Yugoslavia) will present a site-specific installation for the Museum’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden; South Korean artist Lee Bul (born 1964, Yeongju, based in Seoul) has been commissioned to create four sculptures for the niches of The Met’s Fifth Avenue facade; and Taiwanese artist Tong Yang-Tze (born 1942, Shanghai, based in Taipei) will create two monumental works of Chinese calligraphy for The Met’s Great Hall. The commissions will be the first major project in the United States for both Halilaj and Tong. Lee’s commission for the facade marks her first major project in the U.S. in over 20 years.

The Roof Garden Commission: Petrit Halilaj will be on view from April 29 through October 27, 2024. The Facade Commission: Lee Bul will be on view from September 12, 2024 through May 27, 2025; and The Great Hall Commission: Tong Yang-Tze will be on view from November 21, 2024 through April 8, 2025.

Max Hollein, The Met’s Marina Kellen French Director and Chief Executive Officer, said, “It is with great excitement that we announce the artists for the 2024 contemporary commissions. All boundary-pushing in their own right, Petrit Halilaj, Lee Bul, and Tong Yang-Tze will light up the three most prominent locations across the Museum, engaging The Met’s global audience. We look forward to unveiling their commissions in the year ahead.”

For the Roof Garden Commission—the tenth in the series of site-specific commissions for the outdoor space—Halilaj will transform the roof with a sprawling sculptural installation. The artist’s work is rooted in his biography, deeply connected to the history of the young country of Kosovo (declared an independent nation in 2008)—and his experience living through the war and conflict in the Balkan region in the 1990s as a child refugee. Halilaj uses art as a critical tool to reflect and investigate identity issues, questions of displacement, the interface of personal and global histories, and queer identities.

With a career that spans four decades, Lee is widely recognized as the preeminent artist from South Korea. She is known for her sophisticated use of both highly industrial and labor-intensive materials, such as fabric, metal, plastic, silicone, porcelain, and glass, incorporating artisanal practices as well as technological advancements into her work. Her sculptures, often evoking bodily forms that are at once classical and futuristic, address the aspirations and disillusions that come with progress. For the Facade Commission, Lee will create four sculptures that combine figurative and abstract elements for the Museum’s historic niches. It will be the fifth in a series of contemporary commissions for The Met’s facade that previously featured work by Wangechi Mutu (2019), Carol Bove (2021) and Hew Locke (2022); the current installation by Nairy Baghramian is on view through May 28, 2024.

Taipei-based Tong is one of the most celebrated artists working exclusively in Chinese calligraphy today. Best known for making calligraphy in monumental scale, she will create two new works for The Met’s Great Hall. Tong brings Chinese characters into dialogue with three-dimensional space and pushes the conceptual and compositional boundaries of the art form, while remaining dedicated to calligraphy’s raison d’être as the art of writing. Her project will be the third in the series of commissions for The Met’s Great Hall, that previously featured work by Kent Monkman (2019), and is currently the site of Jacolby Satterwhite’s site-specific multimedia installation, A Metta Prayer; on view through January 7, 2024.

About the Artists

Petrit Halilaj is a Kosovar artist born in 1986 who endured the war in the Balkan region during the 1990s. After a formative period in Italy, where he studied art at the Accademia di Brera in Milan, he moved to Berlin in 2008, where he still lives and has his studio. His projects encompass a variety of media, including sculpture, drawing, poetry, and performance. Often incorporating material histories from his native land and manifesting as ambitious spatial installations, his work distills personal relationships, memories, and experiences into sculptural propositions.

Halilaj’s work has steadily gained international recognition over the past few years, with important exhibitions held at TBA21-Academy’s Ocean Space, Venice (2023); Tate St Ives (2021); Museo Reina Sofia, Madrid (2020); Paul Klee Zentrum, Berna (2018); Fondazione Merz, Turin (2018), New Museum, New York (2017); Hangar Bicocca, Milan (2015); Kölnischer Kunstverein, Cologne (2015); Bundeskunsthalle, Bonn (2015). In 2013, he represented his country in the first Kosovo Pavilion at the Venice Biennale. In 2022, he participated in Manifesta 14 held in Pristina, Kosovo. In November 2023, a retrospective of his work opened at the Museo Tamayo, Mexico City.

Lee Bul is a formidable leading sculptor of her generation who works across a diverse range of media—from drawing, sculpture, and painting to performance, installation, and video—to examine themes of beauty, desire, corruption, and decay. The Met Facade Commission will be Lee’s first major project in the United States since her solo exhibition at the New Museum in New York in 2002. Lee represented her country in the 48th Venice Biennale in 1999 and received the prestigious Ho-Am Prize in South Korea in 2019.

Since her breakthrough performance in the late 1980s in Seoul and Tokyo wearing sewn sculptural forms, Lee has been heralded as a pioneer in contemporary sculpture and installation. She is most known for her sculptural figures and landscapes that blur the boundaries between the natural and the artificial and are sensuous yet fragmented, forthcoming yet enigmatic. These dramatic constructions critique progress-driven, perfection-obsessed values through transformations of familiar forms. Structurally and visually complex, Lee’s work also explores the aspirations and failures of utopian visions and exposes a sense of vulnerability and melancholy in history.

Having practiced calligraphy since her youth, Tong Yang-Tze was trained in oil painting in Taiwan (BFA, National Normal University, Taipei, 1966) and the United States (MFA, University of Massachusetts, Amherst, 1970). After a brief stint in graphic design in New York City, she came to prominence in 1980s Taiwan with calligraphy, despite its waning influence in contemporary art. Writing well-known phrases selected from classical Chinese texts and enlarging the characters are her key strategies to connect to the audience. Tong’s calligraphy takes inspiration from the styles of masters in pre-modern China and the scale and compositions of mid-20th-century Western abstract paintings. Her commitment to the written characters is rooted in her belief in its centrality in Chinese cultural identity and calligraphy’s capacity for visual, emotional, and social impact beyond linguistic barriers. Working on the floor, she manipulates the movement and tension in the brushstrokes, the foremost quality in calligraphy. The oversized characters pose physical, formal, and conceptual challenges, while they offer new compositional possibilities and viewing experience. She received the National Cultural Award in 2011, the highest honor of its kind in Taiwan.

These projects are the latest in The Met’s series of contemporary commissions in which the Museum invites artists to create new works of art, establishing a dialogue between the artist’s practice, The Met collection, the physical Museum, and The Met’s audiences.

Credits

The Roof Garden Commission: Petrit Halilaj is conceived by the artist in consultation with Iria Candela, The Met’s Estrellita B. Brodsky Curator of Latin American Art in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art.

The commission is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies.

Additional support is provided by the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund, and Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky.

The catalogue is made possible by the Mary and Louis S. Myers Foundation Endowment Fund.

The Facade Commission: Lee Bul is conceived by the artist in consultation with Lesley Ma, the Ming Chu Hsu and Daniel Xu Associate Curator of Asian Art in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Met.

The commission is made possible in part by Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky.

The Great Hall Commission: Tong Yang-Tze is conceived by the artist in consultation with Lesley Ma, the Ming Chu Hsu and Daniel Xu Associate Curator of Asian Art in the Department of Modern and Contemporary Art at The Met.