Nine Colossal Stone Figures by Artist Ugo Rondinone Unveiled at Rockefeller Center

Ugo Rondinone's Human Nature is on view April 23-June 7, 2013 at Rockefeller Center, New York City. Presented by the Public Art Fund and Tishman Speyer.

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Ugo Rondinone's Human Nature at Rockefeller Center April 23-June 7, 2013

Photo: James Ewing, Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

"This exciting exhibition is sure to provoke a lot of thought—and enable New Yorkers and visitors to see a cherished landmark with new eyes." Mayor Bloomberg

New York, NY (PRWEB) April 22, 2013

This morning, New York City Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; artist Ugo Rondinone; Tishman Speyer Chairman and Co-Chief Executive Officer Jerry Speyer; Director and Chief Curator of Public Art Fund Nicholas Baume; and President of Nespresso USA Frederic Levy opened New York City’s newest outdoor art exhibition, Ugo Rondinone: Human Nature. For seven weeks this spring, nine 16- to 20-foottall, human-shaped stone figures by the Swiss-born, New York-based artist Ugo Rondinone, will transform Rockefeller Center, inhabiting the plaza between 49th and 50th Streets as if transported from another time. The work, Human Nature, will be free to the public and is on view April 23 through June 7, 2013. Presented by Nespresso, the exhibition is organized by Public Art Fund and Tishman Speyer.

"Rockefeller Center plaza is one of the world’s most treasured public spaces, and one reason for that has been the Public Art Fund’s commitment, over the past several years, to present some of the world’s most exciting and memorable public art there," said Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "This exciting exhibition is sure to provoke a lot of thought—and enable New Yorkers and visitors to see a cherished landmark with new eyes, all thanks to the Public Art Fund."

Human Nature is a stark contrast to its highly developed architectural surroundings in Midtown Manhattan. The irregular natural surfaces of the stone are left bare, while the human figure—perhaps the original artistic subject—is represented as a simple yet imposing composition, defined by its towering legs, massive torso, and boulder-like head. Archaic and enduring forms, these colossal figures will invite visitors to wander amongst their legs and touch their roughhewn surfaces.

“We are proud to continue our long-standing tradition of presenting public art at Rockefeller Center with Ugo Rondinone’s Human Nature,” said Tishman Speyer Co-Chief Executive Officers Jerry Speyer and Rob Speyer. “Rockefeller Center is New York City’s greatest public venue, a place where timeless architecture and art come together. The work of a brilliantly inventive artist like Ugo Rondinone will add perfectly to the Center’s artistic identity—particularly as Human Nature was originally inspired by the very plaza where it will now stand.”

“Mythic in scale and imagery, visceral in character and impact, Human Nature reconnects the contemporary world with our most ancient origins,” said Nicholas Baume, Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator. “Conceived directly for Rockefeller Center, this installation launches an important new body of work for Ugo; we’re delighted that it will debut on center stage at this iconic New York City location.”

“The stone figure is the most archetypal representation of the human form; an elemental symbol of the human spirit, connected to the earth yet mythic in the imagination. The image of the figure belongs to nobody, is timeless, and universal,” said artist Ugo Rondinone.

“As a brand rooted in innovation and design, we are constantly seeking inspiration through art and culture from all over the world,” said Frederic Levy, President, Nespresso USA. “It is an honor to be the premier sponsor of Ugo Rondinone’s Human Nature at Rockefeller Center and to be part of an event that so beautifully celebrates artistic expression and shares in our passion to inspire and be inspired.”

The figures populate the plaza where the famous Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree is displayed each December, the massive forms of their legs and shoulders forming post-and-lintel structures beneath and among which visitors are able to walk.

To create these nine unique figures, the artist quarried massive bluestone slabs, leaving their surfaces as they were found: heavy and coarse, scored by quartz veins, and marked by wind, weather, and erosion. The stones were then rough-cut into blocks and stacked on top of each other to resemble the most recognizable features of the human form.

For more than 20 years, Rondinone has produced a strikingly diverse body of work that includes trance-inducing mandala paintings, figurative sculptures, large-scale landscape drawings, and immersive multi-channel video installations. In recent years, he has increasingly turned his attention to public projects. His rainbow neon sign sculpture, Hell, Yes!, adorned the façade of the New Museum on the Bowery from its opening in November 2007 until December 2010.

Since 1998, Public Art Fund and Tishman Speyer have collaborated to present internationally acclaimed works of art to the millions of people who visit and work at Rockefeller Center. Recent projects include Anish Kapoor’s Sky Mirror in 2006, which received the award for “Best Show in a Public Space” by the U.S. Art Critics Association, Jonathan Borofsky’s monumental sculpture Walking to the Sky in 2004, and Chris Burden’s What My Dad Gave Me in 2008, a 65-foot tall skyscraper made up entirely of construction parts. In 2003, Takashi Murakami’s Reversed Double Helix featured Mr. Pointy, his largest freestanding sculpture to date, two giant floating balloons suspended over the center, and mushroom seating. Nam June Paik’s Transmission broadcast a nightly laser display around the plaza in the summer of 2002. In 2001, Louise Bourgeois presented three massive bronze spiders, including the 30-foot-tall Maman, which was preceded in 2000 by Jeff Koons’ monumental topiary Puppy, which blossomed at the foot of 30 Rockefeller Plaza.

Visiting the Exhibition
Human Nature is on view in Rockefeller Center Plaza in Midtown Manhattan between Fifth & Sixth Avenues and 49th and 50th Streets.

Hours: 24 hours, seven days a week
Subway: F, D, B, V to 47-50th Street Rockefeller Center; N, R, W to 49th Street; 1 to 50th Street; 6 to 51st Street

About Public Art Fund
Public Art Fund brings dynamic contemporary art to a broad audience in New York City by mounting ambitious free exhibitions of international scope and impact that offer the public powerful experiences with art and the urban environment.

Since its inception in 1977, Public Art Fund has presented more than four hundred artists' exhibitions and projects at sites throughout New York City’s five boroughs, making it possible for artists to engage diverse audiences and, along the way, redefine public art in relation to the changing nature of contemporary art. Early Public Art Fund projects include Messages to the Public (1982-1990), an exhibition series that ran on an 800-square foot animated lightboard in Times Square and featured more than 70 artists, among them Guerrilla Girls, Keith Haring, Jenny Holzer, Richard Prince, Kiki Smith, and David Wojnarowicz. More recent exhibitions have included Olafur Eliasson’s The New York City Waterfalls (2008) along the East River; Kate Gilmore’s Walk the Walk (2010) in Bryant Park; Rob Pruitt’s The Andy Monument (2011) in Union Square; the career sculpture, retrospective Sol LeWitt: Structures, 1965-2006 (2011), in City Hall Park; and Tatzu Nishi: Discovering Columbus (2012) in Columbus Circle. For more information, visit

Public Art Fund is a non-profit organization supported by contributions from individuals, foundations, corporations, and, in part, with funds from government agencies, including the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

Public Art Fund gratefully acknowledges the partnership of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; First Deputy Mayor Patricia E. Harris; and Department of Cultural Affairs Commissioner Kate D. Levin.

Additional support for the exhibition is provided by Pro Helvetia.

About Tishman Speyer
Tishman Speyer is one of the leading developers, owners, operators, and asset managers of first class real estate worldwide. Active across North America, Europe, South America and Asia, Tishman Speyer is relied upon by many of the world's most prestigious corporations to meet their office space needs. As of September 30, 2012, the firm has acquired, developed and/or managed a portfolio of over 125 million sq. ft. with a total value of over USD $61.3 billion since its founding in 1978. Signature assets include New York's Rockefeller Center and the Chrysler Center, Sao Paulo's Torre Norte, Ventura Corporate Towers in Rio de Janeiro, and Opernturm in Frankfurt. Tishman Speyer also has projects at different stages of development currently in Brasília, Chengdu, Frankfurt, Gurgaon, Hyderabad, Paris, Rio de Janeiro, São Paolo, San Francisco, Shanghai, Suzhou and Tianjin.

About the Artist
Ugo Rondinone (b. 1964, Brunnen, Switzerland) lives and works in New York. For more than 20 years, he has worked in a diverse range of mediums, including painting, drawing, photography, video, and sculpture, to explore notions of emotional and psychic profundity found in the most banal elements of everyday life. Rondinone studied at Universität für angewandte Kunst, Vienna, from 1986-1990. He has been the subject of major solo exhibitions at the Aargauer Kunsthaus, Aarau, Switzerland (2010); Museo de Arte Contemporáneo de Castilla y León, Spain (2009); Museo du Louvre, Paris (2009); Institute of Contemporary Art, Boston (2008); Sculpture Center, New York (2008); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2006); Museum of Contermporary Art, Sydney (2003); Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris (2003); and Kunsthalle, Vienna (2002). In 2007, he represented Switzerland in the Venice Biennale. His works are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, among many others. Rondinone is represented by Gladstone Gallery and Galerie Eva Presenhuber.

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  • Iva Benson
    Tishman Speyer - Rubenstein Communications, Inc.
  • Kellie Honeycutt
    Public Art Fund


Ugo Rondinone, Human Nature at Rockefeller Center, Courtesy of James Ewing Photo: James Ewing, Courtesy Public Art Fund, NY

Ugo Rondinone, "Human Nature", 2013 On view at Rockefeller Center, New York City, April 23 - June 7, 2013 Presented by Nespresso, Organized by Tishman Speyer and Public Art Fund