PHILADELPHIA — The Association for Public Art (aPA) announced today that it has received a grant from the Daniel W. Dietrich II Trust, Inc. to acquire Symbiosis (2011), a masterwork by internationally acclaimed artist Roxy Paine, currently on display on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway in downtown Philadelphia. The shimmering monumental sculpture has been on temporary display in Iroquois Park since June 2014, courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery and with the cooperation of Philadelphia’s Department of Parks & Recreation and the city’s Art Commission.
The acquisition enables Symbiosis to remain in Philadelphia and joins other significant public artworks—notably Mark di Suvero’s soaring Iroquois (1983‒1999) acquired and installed by the aPA in 2007, with the support of philanthropist David N. Pincus, and the gilded statue Joan of Arc (1890) by Emmanuel Frémiet, installed by the aPA over a century ago. The aPA is the nation’s first non-profit public art organization, established in 1872.
Philanthropist and President of the Trust, Daniel W. Dietrich II, said, “It is a great pleasure to provide support for the remarkable work of the Association for Public Art.”
Penny Balkin Bach, aPA Executive Director, said, “We are profoundly grateful to the Daniel W. Dietrich II Trust, Inc. for this wonderfully generous gift to the aPA and to the city. Such a major work by a contemporary artist of Roxy Paine’s stature is an extraordinary addition to the exceptional public art tradition for which Philadelphia is known. Symbiosis, in proximity to Iroquois, creates a fascinating dialogue in terms of form, color, scale, ambiguity, and each artist’s distinctive use of industrial materials. Both extend an invitation to take time, slow down, come closer, and experience the site and the sculptures first-hand from different perspectives.”
“Public art and space can be a challenge,” Paine said, “but it provides the unique opportunity for art to become a nucleus of energy for a city. My hope is for Symbiosis to become a reference point, a place for gathering or for a moment of quiet contemplation in the midst of frenetic urbanlife.”
The sculpture is part of Paine’s “Dendroid” series of stainless steel treelike structures evoking tension between and fusion of organic and industrial elements and forms. According to the artist, dendros is a Greek word for branching (dendron is Greek for “tree” and -oid is a suffix meaning “form”) and implies anatomical and ecological systems. The structures represent search, growth, and the branching of systems that suggest dormant energy and potential, a theme Paine has explored in his work for the last 15 years.
Symbiosis is hand-fabricated from standard industrial piping that was welded, formed, and polished to create two lustrous, interrelated organic forms that both buttress and weigh on one another. More than three and a half tons and rising 34-feet in height, the sculpture represents the collision of two “Dendroids”—one cracked in the middle and buttressed in the crook of the other—that form an arch in stasis. Referencing the darker side of natural law, the relationship of the two forms teeters between support and detriment.
Commentary about Symbiosis is available through the aPA’s Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO program that includes 65 stops for sculptures in downtown Philadelphia and Fairmount Park. An audio of Roxy Paine in conversation with Tod Williams and Billie Tsien, architects of the nearby new Barnes Foundation on the Parkway, is accessible at: http://museumwithoutwallsaudio.org/interactivemap/symbiosis#audio. Museum Without Walls™: AUDIO is available to the public for free by calling (215) 399-9000; downloading the MWW AUDIO mobile application on iPhone or Android; or audio download/streaming at http://museumwithoutwallsaudio.org.
About the Artist
Roxy Paine was born in 1966, in New York, and studied at both the College of Santa Fe, NM, and the Pratt Institute in New York City. Since 1990, his work has been internationally exhibited and is included in major collections such as De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art, Tilburg, The Netherlands; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC; Israel Museum, Jerusalem; The Museum of Modern Art, New York, NY; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, CA; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY. His Dendroid sculptures can be found at various museums including the Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, WA; Montenmedio Arte Contemporaneo NMAC, Cadiz, Spain; the St. Louis Museum of Art, St. Louis, MO; the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Fort Worth, TX; and Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art, Bentonville, AR. The artist has also completed temporary installations of his artwork, including on the Cantor Roof Garden at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Central Park, and Madison Square Park, New York, NY. Roxy Paine lives and works 3 in Brooklyn and Treadwell, NY, and is represented by Marianne Boesky Gallery in New York, NY, and Kavi Gupta in Chicago, IL. For more information visit www.roxypaine.com.
About the Association for Public Art
The Association for Public Art (aPA, formerly Fairmount Park Art Association) commissions, preserves, promotes, and interprets public art in Philadelphia. Since its founding in 1872, aPA has worked with artists, communities, and civic leaders to make encounters with art a part of everyday life, creating a Museum Without Walls™ that is free and accessible to residents and visitors. As the nation’s first private nonprofit organization dedicated to integrating public art and urban planning, aPA has an unparalleled and pioneering history, characterized by artistic excellence, creative initiative, collaboration, and civic engagement. Working closely with city agencies, aPA remains today a central resource and contributor to Philadelphia’s enduring reputation as an important place to view and experience the evolution of public art. Through aPA’s free, interactive public programs, website and publications, Philadelphians and visitors are invited to experience civic spaces enlivened by artists and art; to discover the city’s vast collection of public art; and to connect to a shared cultural legacy. For more information visit http://associationforpublicart.org.