On The Street: 53 & Park.

I absolutely love the latest art installations on Park Avenue by Venezuelan artist Rafael Barrios… The seemingly 3D sculptures are really thin sheets of metal, though they appear to have great weight. As you walk around the sculpture the form of the object changes its shape. Its very cool stuff. One day I’ll ride my bike up Park Avenue and take photos of all 9 of them.

The sculptures range in form, shape, color and dimension and are all representational of  Barrios’ forty-plus years of creating art that alters our perception and state of mind. Barrios experiments with volume and mass in his sculptures—at a distance they appear to have significant volume, but as you approach the pieces, they reveal their slimness.   As Barrios states, the sculptures are about “dislocating our perception in such a way that our mind’s eye will insist that you are seeing something that you are not.” – Art in the Parks

Right behind it, is one of the most famous buildings in Manhattan, the Seagram Building. I never fully noticed the building until a few years ago, and that was only because my brother worked there! But now I make it my business to walk past it whenever I am going that way, because I really love seeing it.

It was designed by legendary Ludwig Mies van der Rohe and Phillip Johnson in the International Style and completed in 1958. What is so special about this modernist skyscraper? It’s made of steel and glass, like most skyscrapers at the time, but Mies wanted the aesthetic of the building to match its functional and structural elements. He argued that the function and form of the building could surpass in beauty any ornamentation that could be added to the facade.  At the time, any functional steel had to be covered with concrete, so Mies had non-structural bronze i-beams run up the length of the building. Mies was so meticulous when designing the building and how its facade should look, that he specified window blinds that could only be shut, open or 1/2 way open.

I love this side entrance… The lighting and obtuse triangles on the canopy… 

Also amazing about the building- it’s a straight bronze tower, with a huge public granite plaza, and it started the trend of privately owned public plazas in NYC. They sometimes have huge art installations in the public plaza (the current owner is an art collector), and it is across the street from The Lever House, which is also used as a public art space.

Anyway, I think the building is so beautiful. If you actually look at it and then look around at buildings made in its style (and there are many on Park Ave in the 50s), you can tell how spectacular this one is. You can learn more about the Seagram Building HERE.

Hope you all had a great weekend!

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  1. I love Rafael Barrios. I didn’t know that statue was there! He is so talented. I look frward to seeing it in person in June.

  2. Lauren says:

    If you’re ever on 51st & 6th come visit me at work! Lots of art in my building!

    • Nicole Cohen says:

      Deal! Only if we walk to Milos for the lunch special! Best deal in the city!

  3. let’s do that bike ride together!

  4. great building!