Revisiting the installation of LIGHT / DARK, two significant black granite sculptures by Jonathan Prince. The sculptures were on view at Pier 64, overlooking the Hudson River, near West 24th and 26th Streets in Chelsea for an exhibition organized by CYNTHIA-REEVES Projects and Hudson River Park Trust. Red (2007) and Umbra (2008) are two signature works from Prince’s early stone series.
Prince’s oeuvre exposes the stone’s latent power through large-scale, universally iconic forms: ellipses, spheres and cubes. This series of sculptures began in the 1990s, created with granite sourced from all over the world. Red and Umbra, a pair of towering black Zimbabwe granite sculptures, are part of his on-going investigation into geometric form, which the artist deems a cerebral exercise in the quest to represent physical beauty. The exhibition’s paradoxical title references the artist’s interest in juxtaposing mathematic’s purest form against the absence of color, “exposing recognizable, perfected concepts whose boundaries are defined only by the lighted world surrounding them”.
The artist writes: “For me, the solidity and strength of stone and steel have always had a profound effect. These materials ground me… connect me to the earth and it’s history. Shaping stone or forming steel is not a spontaneous exercise – it takes perseverance, dedication and patience – attributes that I hold in high esteem in life and work. When working in stone, there is an even greater call for perseverance, as the sculpture’s entire mass must be present in the initial stone block, and the sculpture is reduced to the complete form or geometry.”
The artist has maintained his passion for sculpture throughout his distinguished and diverse professional career in the arts and sciences. Prince completed a doctorate at Columbia University and post-doctoral studies at the University of Southern California. He has produced feature films and directed numerous computer animated special effects projects. One of several large-scale technology and art projects was installed at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC. Recent exhibitions include a solo show in 2010 at CYNTHIA-REEVES in New York City; an installation of monumental steel works at the Sculpture Garden at 590 Madison Avenue, New York in 2011; permanent installation of his iconic work, LightBox, as part of the Julie and Edward J. Minskoff collection in 2010; the acquisition of Vestigial Block by the new Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum in Michigan as part of their permanent collection; an exhibition of Torn Steel works at Christie’s Sculpture Garden at 535 Madison Avenue, New York in 2012, and an installation at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza in New York City in 2012-2013.
Dorothy Joiner commented: “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.’” (Sculpture Magazine, August 2012)
Hudson River Park is a unique partnership between New York City and New York State that has transformed miles of Manhattan shoreline and more than a dozen piers into spectacular public space. In addition to several permanent sculptures commissioned specifically for the Park as part of its design, Hudson River Park has also hosted several temporary installations including works by Yayoi Kusama, Cary Leibowitz and Tom Otterness. Red and Umbra are the first pieces to be installed on Pier 64.