October 14, 2006 - Public Art Fund - Sarah Morris at Lever House
October 14, 2006

Sarah Morris at Lever House

Public Art Fund presents
Sarah Morris
Robert Towne

A new project at Lever House

Park Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets
New York

On view through December 3, 2006


Sarah Morriss project at Lever House, Robert Towne, transforms the entire first floor of this midtown Manhattan architectural icon with a vivid geometric abstraction. Since the mid-1990s, Morris has been internationally renowned for her complex abstractions and films, which are derived from close observation of the architecture and psychology of urban environments. In the paintings she uses colors and geometries that she associates with a citys unique vocabulary and palette, as well as its character and energy. Robert Towne, a temporary installation at Lever House commissioned by the Public Art Fund, is Morriss expanded variation on an abstract work from her recent Los Angeles series (2004-06). Painted directly on the ground-level ceiling, Robert Towne covers the entire 19,744-square-foot cross section of the building, encompassing both its indoor lobby and outdoor courtyard.

Lever House, designed by Gordon Bunshaft and built between 1950 and 1952, is a quintessential example of the type of mid-century Modernist skyscraper that inspired the artists first city series, Midtown (1997-99). Morris depicted the buildings monolithic blue-green glass and stainless-steel façade in two paintings in that body of work. Her engagement with architecture transcends physical characteristics to focus on the ways in which buildings and urban development reflect and shape human interaction and the global flow of power. When Lever House was completed, it was almost immediately welcomed as an iconic if controversial addition to Park Avenue. The architects unusual decision to give up valuable ground-floor square footage to create an open courtyard and pedestrian arcade was praised by some, while others criticized the area as being dark and unusable. In creating an artwork that dramatically alters the nature of Lever Houses plaza, Morris observes and adds to the longstanding dialogue about corporate public/private spaces.

The work is named after Robert Towne, the legendary Hollywood writer, director, producer and actor, who is best known for his screenplays, which include Chinatown (1974), Shampoo (1975) and Personal Best (1982), and for being the script doctor behind such films as Bonnie and Clyde (1967) and The Parallax View (1974). His works are marked by their moral ambivalence, realistic dialogue and ruthless dissection of cruel or corrupt systems of social authority. Morris describes him as an elliptical figure whose career exemplifies a certain characteristic mode of working in the film industry typified by collaboration, behind-the-scenes influence, and shared or changing roles.

Like the works in the Los Angeles series, Robert Towne features intersecting lines and interconnected hexagons, forming a visual correlation to what Morris describes as the citys fluid and multifaceted power dynamic. With Robert Towne, Morris maps the aesthetics of one city onto the architecture of another, linking the countrys two cultural capitals and bridging the past decade of her work.

This exhibition is sponsored by RFR Holding LLC

Special thanks to Friedrich Petzel Gallery, New York

Subway: 6, E, V to 51th Street Lexington Avenue
The exhibition is free and is on view daily
PUBLIC ART FUND is New Yorks leading presenter of artists projects, new commissions, installations and exhibitions in public spaces. For nearly three decades, the Public Art Fund has been committed to working with emerging and established artists to produce innovative exhibitions of contemporary art throughout New York City. By bringing artworks outside the traditional context of museums and galleries, the Public Art Fund provides a unique platform for an unparalleled public encounter with the art of our time.

Public Art Fund is a non-profit arts organization supported by generous contributions from individuals, foundations, and corporations, and with public funds from National Endowment for the Arts; New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency; and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs.


Press contact:
Anne Wehr
Communications Director

Public Art Fund
Share - Sarah Morris at Lever House
  • Share
Click to subscribe to e-flux and be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements
Subscribe to e-flux
Be the first to receive the latest news on international exhibitions and all e-flux related announcements.
Subscribe to architecture
Explore the most recent content from e-flux architecture and urbanism
Subscribe to e-flux programs
Keep up-to-date on all upcoming talks, screenings, and exhibitions at e-flux in New York