Jonathan Prince Installs Monumental Work at Brigham and Women's Hospital

Jonathan Prince Studio is thrilled to announce the installation of a permanent sculpture at the newly completed research center for Brigham’s and Women’s Hospital in Boston, Mass. A project administered by Cynthia-Reeves, Prince’s work was the top pick of the hospital’s board and donors, capping a year’s long search for an artwork to be sited in the center’s adjacent green space. The site required an uplifting, thoughtful, and timeless work – adjectives that aptly describe Prince’s piece, Disc Fragment, which is made of CorTen and stainless steel.  The sculpture is part of the artist’s Torn Steel series, which was last seen at solo exhibitions at the 590 Madison Avenue Sculpture Garden and at Christie’s Sculpture Plaza at 535 Madison Avenue in New York City.

Disc Fragment installed at Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston

Jonathan Prince's sculptures are formally concerned with exposing the latent power of stone or steel through large-scale, universally iconic forms. Ellipses, spheres, and cubes are intentionally interrupted by the artist's hand. One writer comments: "While Plato considered the objects of sensuous reality to be mere 'shadows' and saw perfection only in geometric forms apprehended by the intellect, Prince prefers a marriage of form and accident, the one complementing the other. And in this union - to borrow from Yeats -- a 'terrible beauty is born.' (Dorothy Joiner, Sculpture Magazine, August 2012)

Cynthia-Reeves represents an international roster of established artists who share a process-apparent sensibility in their art. The gallery is committed to artwork that demonstrates an authentic voice, an innovative use of materials and an appreciation of the mark in diverse media: site-based installation, video, sculpture, painting and works on paper. A sub-text to the gallery's program is artwork that celebrates the convergence of art and science, as well as a relationship to the natural world - a discourse essential to the examination of contemporary art and culture within the context of these broader challenges. 

Jonathan Prince Experiments with Jello!

For the last several years, Jonathan Prince's work has explored the dialectical qualities of the physical states of matter and in particular, The Liquid State: the appearance of liquid fixed in a sculptural form, a body of work whose focus is that of materiality and physicality. Prince has continually captured these elusive qualities through a variety of iterations of the cube and column, investigating the ways in which physical and chemical effects can disrupt and morph seemingly reliable, geometric forms. Prince's new Jello Cubes capture this concept most acutely and viscerally.  

The focus of the work has been to capture the variations of form as Jell-O congeals and is agitated by an external force, after which the lively material continues to move, or jiggle, on its own accord. Gels are mostly liquid in nature but behave as a semi-solid material, due to a 3-D cross-linked molecular network with the liquid. Prince’s past works have been engaged with the elusive fluidity of light, but it is the process of liquid becoming solid that interests him in this new body of work. 

While the nature of gelatin—its natural process of becoming a solid form from a liquid state—aligned with Prince’s conceptual interests, it also provides a playful contrast to the weight of his explorations. Jello-O, with its robust colors and flavors, is in direct opposition to the earthly, geological forms for which the artist is often associated. This juxtaposition creates an exciting tension and curiosity regarding the associations this post-war dessert evokes.  

New Sculpture: Turbulence Column

While continuing to explore and expand the Liquid State series of sculpture, Turbulence Column is the first piece that investigates the ways in which physical effects of compression can disrupt and morph a seemingly reliable, geometric form.  

High Chromium Stainless Steel
85 x 19 x 19 inches | 216 x 48 x 48 cm
2015

Click through to see photos of the sculpture as came into being: 

Vestigial Block: From Private Origins to Public Placement

The first time Jonathan Prince saw Richard Serra's Berlin Block (for Charlie Chaplin) 1978, he was astounded by its paradoxical qualities: the sculpture was simple in form but its massive scale, the presence it had and the attention it demanded, had a profound impact on Prince. It was completely transporting. 

Prince recalls feeling as though he had discovered not a modern sculptural object, but an artifact unearthed from the distant past. For Prince, the sculpture conveyed a visceral sense of mystery and time. That feeling of having been in the presence of something ancient and unknown was the inspiration for Prince's sculpture entitled Vestigial Block, and it is imbued with these complicated projections.  It is as though the CorTen steel from which it is made has worn away over time, exposing an inner surface filled with some other form of matter, a mysterious history yet to be discovered. 

Vestigial Block, a monumental work which came from private origins, has found its final home in a prominent, public collection. 


Richard Serra 
Berlin Block (For Charlie Chaplin)
1978

Vestigial Block 
CorTen and Stainless Steel
6.25 x 6 x 6 feet 
2011
Exhibition view, IBM Atrium, New York City 

Vestigial Block in the permanent collection of the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU

Vestigial Block was acquired by Edward J. Minksoff in 2013 and donated to the Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at MSU where it now sits in their permanent collection. In an article published that year, Robert Bao wrote, "'Sometimes the private sector can contribute significantly to institutional decisions, especially complicated ones,' says Minskoff, who, along with his wife Julie, donated $3 million to the MSU project along with a major Jonathan Prince sculpture and Jasper Johns print."  The full article can be read here

New Sculpture: Bump Block

Jonathan Prince is pleased to share a new work entitled Bump Block for the ongoing series Liquid State

Bump Block

Mirror Polished Bronze
12 x 12 x 12 inches | 30.5 x 30.5 x 30.5 cm
Edition of 3 plus 2 AP
2015

Bump Block reflects the progression of an idea conceived within the digital domain with it’s physical realization  executed via a combination of the most advanced and ancient techniques of object creation.

I investigated the idea of creating the work with a fully digital processes before deciding that the look and feel I envisioned for the piece could only be accomplished by a combination of techniques and hundreds of hours of finishing handwork. 

The concept was first rendered using 3-D modeling software; the initial build of the sculpture was completed in resin using SLA rapid prototype / 3D printing ; and then the traditional lost wax techniques to mould and cast the form were utilized in the completion of this silicon bronze sculpture.

My desire in making Bump Block was to create a surface that I imagine to be a block of liquid metal - loosely holding its shape in a weightless environment - as if you took a cubical container of liquid with six removable sides in space and carefully removed each side leaving just the weightless liquid, the remaining form might resemble Bump Block.

This sculpture is another example of a solid object that appears to have all the surface characteristics of a liquid with the effect of movement / vibration as light and ambient reflections flicker over its surface.



Cauldron for Liquid State

The word Cauldron may be used in different ways, but the meaning that is most appropriate for and representative of this sculpture for the Liquid State series is: 'a state or situation of great distress.' 

Like many of my works, Cauldron oscillates in a state of duality: order and chaos, interior and exterior, dark and light, hidden and revealed. Cauldron's undulating inner surface pushes the fabrication of stainless steel to its limits. The result of this audacious task beckons the qualities of boiling liquid, of crashing waves in a violent storm, of mercury contained within a perfectly formed geometric vessel.

I continually aim to reveal and make sense of the paradoxical characteristics of nature, and it is the lack of resolution that imbues my work with meaning, for it challenges concepts of beauty and reveals hidden value within the breaks of convention and expectation. 

Cauldron 
High Chromium Stainless Steel 
30 x 30 x 30 inches
2015
 

Top Picks from Frieze

Jonathan Prince Studio is pleased to share our top picks from Frieze New York this past weekend, as well as highlights from Chelsea galleries and the Whitney Museum

Frieze New York is an international contemporary art fair that launched in May 2012. In 2015 the fair includes over 190 of the world’s leading galleries, making Frieze New York 2015 the company’s largest event to date. Like Frieze London, Frieze New York is housed in a bespoke temporary structure, suffused with natural light. The fair is located in Randall’s Island Park, Manhattan.


Newport Beach Inaugural Sculpture Exhibition

Jonathan Prince, in collaboration with Cynthia-Reeves Projects of New York, was selected to contribute a monumental sculpture to the Newport Beach Inaugural Sculpture Exhibition at the Newport Beach Civic Center's 14-acre ocean-view site.  Red, a work carved from African black granite, was installed on April 27 and will remain on view through August of 2016.

260 submissions from artists located worldwide were received and juried by a local selection committee consisting of up to three Newport Beach Arts Commissioners, two local arts professionals (Dan Cameron, Interim Director and Chief Curator at the Orange County Museum of Art and Richard Turner, Artist, Professor, and Co- Director of The Guggenheim Gallery at Chapman University), and Christina Varvi, art conservator of Rosa Lowinger & Associates, Los Angeles and Miami.  Prince was one of ten artists chosen to participate in the exhibition.

Red is a bi-concave disc form with a mirror-polished surface designed to reflect the environment in which it sits. The reflected images morph and distort, pulling the viewer from the illusory comfort of perceived order. Red is a part of Prince’s ongoing series entitled States of Matter, a body of work that represents the artist’s interest in exploring the ways in which we perceive materials – or phases of matter (solid, liquid, gas, plasma) –  and our understanding of how such materials behave and influence our lives.  

Exhibition at West Branch Gallery and Sculpture Park

Several sculptures by Jonathan Prince are featured in the current exhibition Subtle, Not Subtle: Evocative Nuance at West Branch Gallery and Sculpture Park in Stowe, Vermont. 

Subtle, Not Subtle: Evocative Nuance

February 14 – June 3, 2015 in the North Gallery
Reception: February 28, 2015, 6-8:30PM

“Subtle, Not Subtle: Evocative Nuance” focuses on the delicate complexity of artwork by Marc Civitarese, Janis Pozzi-Johnson, Jonathan Prince, and Helen Shulman.

“Subtle, Not Subtle” focuses on four artists whose work displays a delicate complexity that is easily overlooked by the casual viewer. Marc Civitarese abstracts the elements of realism–shape, form, and light–as a way of showing an introspective exploration of mankind, nature, and spirituality. Janis Pozzi-Johnson paints emotional, earthy tones in thick wax layers to form viscous color fields “as a visual metaphor for the often ineffable experiences of the human heart.” Working in oil and cold wax, Helen Schulman crafts paintings that engage the viewer in a quiet conversation about color and surface texture. These loose, gestural, and expressive paintings contain an undercurrent of spirituality and strong emotional overtones. Jonathan Prince’s steel sculptures contain some element that is torn or broken. These infractions are gloriously polished to reveal the tension of imperfection. Together, these artists invite the viewer to join them in the act of contemplation and to explore nuance and subtlety in artwork. These artists reward the viewer with a powerful experience; emotional earthquakes that are anything but subtle.

The exhibition is part of West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park’s expanded exhibition program in 2015. The new program features a series of exhibitions that allow for a deeper reflection and interpretation of gallery artists and sculptors. “Subtle, Not Subtle” is curated by Ric Kasini Kadour and West Branch partner Tari Swenson.


Sculptural Seating for Corporate Lobby

Jonathan Prince is pleased to share images of the most recent edition to Function, a sculptural series of seating called Strata. Pictured here is Peak Sofa, Peak Sofa (Gold), and Peak Surround, the largest of the three pieces, installed in a corporate lobby in Houston, Texas. See the full production story here

Jonathan Prince with Peak Surround


Jonathan Prince at Art Central Hong Kong

Jonathan Prince will exhibit works from both the Liquid State series and the Torn Steel series with Cynthia Reeves Gallery at the upcoming Art Central art fair, in conjunction with Art Basel Hong Kong, opening March 14. 

Art Central is Hong Kong's exciting new art fair, showcasing the next generation of talent alongside some of the most established contemporary galleries and art spaces from across the globe. Launched by the founders of ART HK, Art Central debuts 14-16 March 2015 (VIP Preview 13 March 2015) to coincide with Art Basel's Hong Kong edition. 

Basin
High Chromium Stainless Steel 
18 x 44 x 44 inches | 46 x 112 x 112 cm
2014

 

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Unearthing Southern Remnant

Jonathan Prince is drawn to artifacts and their power to mediate between history and contemporary culture. In viewing South, one of four geometric sculptures entitled North East South West (1981) by sculptor Michael Heizer, Prince felt as though he had come face to face with an unearthed, ancient relic. Heizer's tribal-like cone is able to communicate a sense of antiquity with that of the modern, and Prince has imbued this same essence into his monumental sculpture Southern Remnant, inspired by Heizer's South

South (1983), Michael Heizer

Prince's Southern Remnant is a part of the Liquid State series, which explores an extended conversation around geometric forms morphed and softened through the applied will of the artist. Fabricated by hand in heavy gauge stainless and CorTen steel, Prince's objective is to form the assumed geometric line into a new shape where only the barest vestiges of geometry remain. This also creates a new order of light reflections and thus an entirely different relationship between sculpture and environment. The form is no longer dormant as it has a dynamic dialog with light and space.

Southern Remnant Southern Remnant 
CorTn and High-Chromium Stainless Steel 
5 x 11 x 5 feet | 152 x 335 x 152 cm
2012

Pictured at Christie's Sculpture Garden, New York, NY


 

See Southern Remnant take shape during the fabrication process: 


New Sculpture for the Liquid State Series: Cistern

The word cistern comes from the latin cista, which means box: a cistern is a waterproof container whose purpose is to hold liquid. To perpetuate the concepts investigated in  Liquid State - the illusion of fluid within a solid form - Jonathan Prince has manipulated stainless steel in a new way. In this sculpture, the geometry of the outer box, or cistern, appears to contain liquid as is its intended purpose. To engage the viewer further, Prince has experimented with both translucent and transparent color, as well as with the incorporation of holographic swirls created during the polishing process, thereby enhancing the illusion of liquid barely contained within solid geometry as if in a continuous state of becoming one or the other.

 

Cistern 
2015
High chromium stainless steel / transparent color / translucent color 
7 x 14 x 14 inches 

 



Ruptured Column Inspired by Frida Kahlo

Ruptured Column is part of an ongoing series entitled Torn Steel and represents work that is engaged with the exploration of industrial processes and its application to art making. This piece in particular is fabricated with aircraft grade aluminum, and the form has been turned on a lathe utilizing a CNC (computer numeric control) machine, the surface of which was hardened at a commercial anodizing plant. 

Although these industrial steps play an integral role in the 'machine esthetic' of the sculpture, Ruptured Column represents hours of hand-work in the interfaces between each of the sculpture's five segments. Perhaps the most crucial aspect of this work is the idea that it was inspired and pays homage to the masterpiece The Broken Column (1944) by Frida Kahlo; in other words, Ruptured Column is a modern industrial impression and fabrication, yet is based upon a classic work of art. 

Ruptured Column from the series Torn Steel 

The Broken Column, Frida Kahlo (1944) 

Click through the process slideshow to see Ruptured Column take shape:


Wave Form Captures the Topography of Oceans

Jonathan Prince’s Wave Form series captures the topography of our oceans’ surfaces and the effects that weather has upon it in the solid form of stainless steel. Prince is working with data provided by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and NASA reuniting him with the two organizations he had previously worked with on the Hologlobe Project he created for the Smithsonian Institution.

"The connection to NOAA and NASA is important to me as I have a strong sense that the work will resonate with the scientific community as well as the art world and attract attention to the beauty and importance of our oceans."

Wave Form

High Chromium Stainless Steel 
8.5 x 44 x 24 inches | 22 x 112 x 61 cm
2012

Bronze Wave I

Fabricated Silicon Bronze 
2.5 x 18 x 9.5 inches | 6 x 46 x 24 cm
2013 

Prince was the creator of the Hologlobe Project (1996) which was exhibited at The Smithsonian Museum of Natural History and served as principal investigator and program manager for the project in partnership with DARPA and NSF, NASA and NOAA.)

These animations were produced for the Smithsonian Institution's HoloGlobe Exhibit which opened to the public on August 10, 1996 at the Museum of Natural History in Washington, DC. The various data sets show progressive global change mapped onto a rotating globe and projected into space to create a holographic image of the Earth.

Seating for Lobby of New Corporate Headquarters

Jonathan Prince's New York  dealer, Cynthia Reeves, met with Gensler Design recently in Houston, Texas as an art consultant for their client ExxonMobil, who was interested in making acquisitions for their new headquarters.  After presenting Prince's work, Gensler, drawn to the geometric elements of Prince's sculpture, asked if he would be interested in designing the lobby seating for Exxon's new headquarters. 

Gensler sent conceptual imagery for the space, and Prince was immediately taken by the beauty of the stratified, geological landscapes they were showing and inspired by. The idea of designing a series of functional, sculptural seating elements loosely based upon the imagery was developed and is called the Strata Seating Series. See works in progress below. 

Feature in Art New England Magazine

Geometric Breathing: Inside the Sculptural World of Jonathan Prince by Cate McQuaid 

A giant disk. An eight-foot cube. A monumental cone. Perfect geometries rusted by the weather, Jonathan Prince’s sculptures have the sense of something old and impenetrable. Until they rupture.

Many of his sculptures look as if a giant has come at it with a pickaxe and hacked a piece off. Inside that wound, shimmering stainless steel ripples like a slide of liquid mercury, winking in the light. It’s gorgeous, unpredictable, vulnerable and deeply alive in contrast to the rusty planes that barely seem to contain it.

“All the pieces have something broken,” says Prince. “The breaks can be beautiful, like the internal life we all struggle with and have to embrace.”

The sculptor has been on a roll, with public installations recently in New York at Hudson River Park, Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, Christie’s Sculpture Garden and an exhibition, Torn Steel, at 535 Madison Avenue Sculpture Garden. He’s had regular appearances at art fairs with Cynthia-Reeves Projects and several exhibitions. The most recent closed in October at the Helen Day Art Center in Vermont.

In 2012, Prince’s Vestigial Block was the first piece installed in the sculpture garden at Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum at Michigan State University, a gift to the museum from Edward Minskoff. The six-foot, rust-streaked cube breaks into a wide canyon of delicately variegated stainless steel, gleaming as it narrows toward a low corner. By taking the formidable and exposing its innards, Prince assails the very idea of the monumental.

“There’s almost a movement in contemporary art now to dematerialize strongly material objects,” says the Broad Museum’s founding director Michael Rush, formerly director of the Rose Art Museum at Brandeis University. “Jonathan is taking a solid, familiar form and saying, ‘Look there are many things potentially going on here. Let’s tear this open and look inside.’”

Despite their ravishing imperfection, every step of the way toward making Prince’s sculptures is one of spit and polish.

The artist lives and works in a converted dairy barn (two, actually, joined together) on the far side of the Berkshires. He shares his living space with his wife, Bridget Ford Hughes, a massage therapist and ceramicist; and two Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs, Maggie and Ruby. When a visitor approaches, the giant dogs defend the house with basso barks, but they’re secretly softies.

Prince’s studio is a lab for techniques such as welding, polishing, heating and shaping steel. Even rusting it. When I stopped in, the sculptor and two assistants were at work on an eight-foot cube—his largest yet—and on a smaller piece. Basin (Blue) is 16 inches around and six inches deep. Not all of Prince’s works are split open monoliths; this one is all stainless steel, smooth around the side but topped with a rippling, watery surface, which the artist intended to paint blue.

“We send our paint to a lab to test coherence to metals,” Prince says. “I want to set up my own techniques to get cohesion between the paint and the substrate.”
He steps into a side room and we peer through the window of a heavy door, like that on a vault, into a dust-free “spray room” where paint is applied. When he paints in there, “I wear a full-on Ebola bodysuit,” he says. “I don’t want to bring dust in with me.”

Works such as Basin (Blue) take 30 coats of paint and then get polished infinitesimally, resolving imperfections down to fractions of a micron.


“We know when we’re done when every time we try to fix something, it’s worse than when we left it,” says Prince. “We know when we have pushed the limit.”

Despite all the technical refinement, chaos is inherent in this artist’s work. He even seeks it out. All those divots and crests in some of the stainless steel surfaces, for instance, result from a group process. A single artist tends to have signature gestures, and Prince doesn’t want anything to look predictable or repetitive.

In his studio, Prince shows off several cubes surfaced only with stainless steel. How many ripples does it take before a cube is no longer a cube? Prince and his team go at that surface with flame, hammers and a hydraulic press.

Look at Liquid State (Inhale) and Liquid State (Exhale). They seem to puff out and contract, indenting voluptuously as they go.

“I liken them to breathing,” Prince says. “How much can you expand the breath within these forms?”

He is garrulous, passionate about explaining his work, his techniques and his philosophy. His mind is as capacious and busy as his studio. There’s a lot going on, yet there’s an intrinsic order to it all. Prince has always been able to keep a lot of balls in the air.

Sculpture is not his first career, but it is the one he always dreamed of.

He grew up on Long Island, the son of a dentist. The sculptor Jacques Lipchitz was a friend and patient of his father’s, and when he was a boy, Prince visited Lipchitz’s studio. The sculptor invited him to help out, and Prince applied clumps of clay to a monumental bust, which Lipchitz then shaped.

“He took a liking to me,” Prince says. “I thought it was the greatest job in the world—from a 10-year-old’s perspective.”

But he followed in his father’s footsteps and became a dentist, specializing in maxillofacial surgery. He did well, but yearned for a creative life. Other careers followed: film producer, special effects wizard.

In the 1990s, he designed the HoloGlobe, a digital vision of climate change displayed at the Smithsonian Institution’s Museum of Natural History. He followed that with an Internet startup, overseeing more than 100 employees. It collapsed in the early 2000s.

“At that point, I thought, ‘I’ve had it. I’m now going to do what I’ve been afraid of and always wanted to do the most,’” says Prince.

He became a sculptor.

Not one to enter into anything lightly, he started with granite. His early works echoed the spare, lyrical abstraction of pieces by some of his heroes: Isamu Noguchi and Barbara Hepworth.

“It took me three or four years to get those 600-pound gorillas off my back,” Prince says.

He looked at Richard Serra, whose eight-foot cube Berlin Block (for Charlie Chaplin) dwarfed Prince; and the liquidity of Roni Horn’s big glass disks.

He began to think, he says, about “kinetic work that doesn’t have to move.”
That’s what his stainless steel does. Light flashes and plays off the surface.  Reflections swim, jump and fracture. These works feel as if an old, inviolate geometry, governed by heft and gravity, cracked open like an egg, and something new poured out. And that makes them less imposing, more something a viewer is drawn to investigate.

G2V, a giant rusted disk with a glimmering, slippery wedge of stainless steel coursing within, was installed at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza for six months. The United Nations is nearby.

A green market is often held there.

“The site calls for large, monumental pieces. There’s the bustle of traffic, an imposing building across the street,” says Jennifer Lantzas, public art coordinator for New York City Department of Parks and Recreation. “Formally, Jonathan’s piece held the space extremely well.”

Just as important, people wanted to interact with G2V. “Everything about his works, you want to touch,” says Lantzas.

Part of the fun is the burbling reflections the stainless steel casts. Prince grants a certain kinship with Anish Kapoor, renowned for his mirrored works.

“At first I was worried about that,” Prince says. “I don’t want to be thought of as derivative. But…it’s not derivative. It’s my own exploration. We explore similar concepts. The difference is,” he adds cheekily, “I have patents in optics.”

Kapoor’s works have a futuristic quality. Prince’s marry the new with the ancient. Look at the lushly streaked rust on his monumental pieces (he calls it “a gravitational patina”). Look at the intrinsic familiarity of his Euclidean forms, and how far back they go, laden with symbols in art, writing and ritual.

G2V takes its title from the astronomical nomenclature for the sun. The circle, the traditional symbol of the sun, breaks. At the same time, light erupts from within it.
“I’m fascinated by archaeology,” Prince says. “These are both archaeological fragments and futuristic. It’s like a compression of time. And the simpler the form…the more ageless.”

He returns in his studio to Alembic Cube, the eight-foot work-in-progress, named for a vessel used for distilling.

“This is almost an artifact of Richard Serra’s cube,” Prince says. “It’s like we found it, and dug it up, and this is what’s left.”

Rusty planes, a chasm of rippling light. Spirits released.

This article is featured in the current print issue of Art New England Magazine, on the cover of which is Jonathan Prince's sculpture One Foot StackRead Art New England Magazine's original digital version