Liz Glynn’s Open Air Ballroom In Central Park

Liz Glynn Open Air Ballroom

Thanks to my friend George Sweet (no relation except for our mutual interest in the beautiful and unusual), I was made aware of this public art fund installation presently on view at the corner of 60th Street and 5th Avenue in New York’s Doris C. Freedman Plaza. “Open House” by Liz Glynn is a collection of concrete cast Louis XIV furniture that was designed to highlight class distinctions.

Liz Glynn’s Open Air Ballroom In Central Park

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At the turn of the 20th century, New York City’s wealthy elite gathered in opulent private ballrooms to define their social status. In contrast, Central Park granted democratic access to public space when it was established in the 1850s as one of the nation’s first urban parks.

public art installation new yorkconcrete furniture Liz GlynnLiz Glynn sculpture

Open House is a new commission by Los Angeles-based artist Liz Glynn (b. 1981, Boston, MA) that highlights these historic class distinctions. It references one of the grandest Fifth Avenue interiors designed by Gilded Age architect Stanford White: the now-demolished William C. Whitney Ballroom (shown below).

The William C. Whitney Residence Ballroom that stood at 5th Ave and 68th Street, 1901
The William C. Whitney Residence Ballroom that stood at 5th Ave and 68th Street, 1901

Open House transforms Doris C. Freedman Plaza into an open air ballroom where only scattered furniture and arches remain eight blocks south from the original mansion. Glynn’s lavish Louis XIV sofas, chairs, and footstools evoke the historic home, but with a twist—these objects feature sculpted additions and are cast in concrete, a populist material more commonly seen in modern architecture.

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modeling the relief for the pieces

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With this revision, the artist invites the public to enjoy a previously exclusive interior space that is now open and accessible to all. In this strange facsimile, Glynn addresses the evolving face of a city: who has access to space in a society that is increasingly divided along socio-economic lines?

A video of Liz Glynn speaking about the installation. The video also takes a look back the Public Art Fund‘s many exhibitions that have graced Doris C. Freedman Plaza

This exhibition is curated by Associate Curator Daniel S. Palmer.
Photos courtesy of Public Art Fund, by James Ewing for the artist and screen grabs from the video

About the Artist

Liz Glynn (b. 1981, Boston, MA) lives and works in Los Angeles, and recent solo shows and performances include The Myth of Singularity, Los Angeles County Museum of Art (2015); PATHOS (The Blind Exercises), Paula Cooper Gallery, New York (2015); Liz Glynn: Ransom Room, SculptureCenter, New York (2014); Black Box, as part of the J. Paul Getty Museum’s Pacific Standard Time Performance Art and Public Art Festival, Los Angeles (2012); Loving You is Like _ _ _ _ _ the Dead, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (2011) and The 24 Hour Roman Reconstruction Project, Arthouse at the Jones Center, Austin (2009). She has also been featured in group shows at the Barbican Art Gallery, London (2015); the Hammer Museum (2012); and the New Museum (2009). Glynn is the recipient of several awards, including a Creative Capital Foundation fellowship (2016), and the Center for Cultural Innovation’s Investing in Artists Grant (2012). Glynn received a BA in Visual and Environmental Studies at Harvard University and a MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.

Liz Glynn