The Metropolitan Museum of Art announced today that Alex Da Corte (American, born 1980) has been commissioned to create a site-specific installation for The Met’s Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden. The Roof Garden Commission: Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts will be on view from April 16 through October 31, 2021.
For The Met’s 2021 Roof Garden Commission, Philadelphia-based artist Alex Da Corte (born 1980) has created a 26-foot-tall kinetic sculpture featuring the beloved Sesame Street character Big Bird and the modern aesthetic of Alexander Calder’s standing mobiles.
The work is comprised of a base with three interlocking pieces and a mobile component that sways and rotates gently with passing air currents. With his design, Da Corte evokes the liveliness and unpredictability of Calder’s practice, while also emphasizing a do-it-yourself inventiveness by fashioning the base of the work in the modular language of an outdoor activity set by Little Tikes, which requires no tools for assembly and can be easily reconfigured. Suspended from near the top of the sculpture, covered in roughly 7,000 individually placed laser-cut aluminum feathers, Big Bird is found perched on a crescent moon with a ladder in hand—suggesting the possibility of passage back to Earth or to other galaxies. Sitting alone, gazing out at the New York skyline, Big Bird has an introspective, melancholic disposition that is amplified by Da Corte’s decision to render the character in blue instead of yellow. This choice of color also gestures to the artist’s personal associations with Big Bird: growing up partially in Venezuela, he watched the Brazilian version of Sesame Street, in which Big Bird’s counterpart, Garibaldo, was blue. The color also alludes to the 1985 film Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird, in which the character, while out on a road trip, is captured and painted blue by two carnival operators. The title for the commission comes from a collection of whimsical short stories by the Italian author Italo Calvino about the potential of new explorations.
Max Hollein, Marina Kellen French Director of The Met, commented, “We are thrilled that Alex Da Corte will bring his imaginative vision to the Cantor Roof Garden this spring. The installation, which the artist initiated as the pandemic first took hold of the world, evokes notions of uncertainty, nostalgia, sadness, and hope so inherent in our turbulent times. With this commission, Da Corte has created a work of art that meets the present moment and its challenges with the promise of optimism.”
Sheena Wagstaff, Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art, added, “By tapping icons of art and popular culture from our collective consciousness, Alex Da Corte has created a new type of monument in this commission. In a play of opposites that is spirited, absurd and deadly serious, modern culture is reconfigured into unexpected orbit, evoking a utopian possibility of innocence and play in the face of these times of melancholic collapse. For these very reasons we look forward to unveiling the installation in April.”
The Roof Garden Commission: Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts was conceived by the artist in consultation with Sheena Wagstaff, Leonard A. Lauder Chairman of Modern and Contemporary Art, and Shanay Jhaveri, Assistant Curator of International Modern and Contemporary Art, both of The Met’s Department of Modern and Contemporary Art. It is the ninth in a series of site-specific commissions for the outdoor space.
The exhibition will be accompanied by a publication featuring an interview with the artist as well as essays by Jhaveri and Jack Halberstam, Professor of Gender Studies and English at Columbia University. It is richly illustrated with images that document Da Corte’s creative process from inspiration to fabrication.
Alex Da Corte was born in 1980 in Camden, New Jersey, and lives and works in Philadelphia. After training as an animator at the School of Visual Arts in New York City, he received a BFA in Printmaking/Fine Arts from the University of Philadelphia and an MFA from Yale University. Da Corte works across a range of media, including film, performance, painting, installation, and sculpture, and his practice is invested in deconstructing and reinventing those objects and cultural icons that are not only familiar and beloved but also contested. His work was included in the 2019 Venice Biennale and the 2018 Carnegie International in Pittsburgh. Museums that have mounted solo exhibitions include the Prada Rong Zhai in Shanghai (2020), Kölnischer Kunstverein in Cologne (2018), Secession in Vienna (2017), MASS MoCA in North Adams, Massachusetts (2016), and the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen in Rotterdam (2015). In March 2020, Da Corte reinvented Allan Kaprow’s performance Chicken (1962) as part of Invisible City: Philadelphia and the Vernacular Avant-Garde.
The publication is made possible by the Mary and Louis S. Myers Foundation Endowment Fund. The exhibition is supported by Bloomberg Philanthropies. Additional support is provided by Cynthia Hazen Polsky and Leon B. Polsky.
The Roof Garden Commission: Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts will be on view from April 16 through October 31, 2021 on the Iris and B. Gerald Cantor Roof Garden at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, at 82nd Street, NYC, Did you know that The Met has a complimentary bicycle valet service available for Museum visitors every Saturday and Sunday from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day? The service will operate from 10:30am to 5:30pm. Look for the valet tent located on The Met’s Fifth Avenue plaza near 83rd Street.
While you’re there, Art for the Community: The Met’s Circulating Textile Exhibition, 1933-1942 will continue to be on view through June 13, 2021 in honor of The Met’s 150th Anniversary.
Hungry? Check out the oldest family-owned luncheonette in NYC ~ Lexington Candy Shop on Lexington Avenue at 83rd Street, NYC.