Before anyone can approach the stunning Rita Ackermann chalkboard painting, or steal away to the Sol LeWitt in an upstairs dining room, guests to Eleven Madison Park quite literally step on an exceptional monument. Some 1,000 pounds and 16 feet long, artist Daniel Turner‘s site-specific sculpture is a quiet homage to the restaurant and chef Daniel Humm’s success. It greets people upon entry at the newly renovated space and many might never understand that Humm and Will Guidara commissioned the piece and actually provided the materials—by allowing Turner to hand-select more than one thousand items from the original kitchen.
“The selection process was based on individual objects form, utility, and material alloy make up,” Turner explains to CH. “I documented each object that would eventually be melted down, this process was about paying reverence to those materials and to have a physical and tactile exchange with the environment.” He took on everything from silver utensils to steel stovetops. He continues, “The final form, ‘EMP Step’ is cast out of stainless steel, a material which made up the extent of the Eleven Madison Park kitchen.”
Regarding process, he notes that he “built an exact replica of the shape in wood and then had that transformed into a sand-cast mold. Each piece of the kitchen was then cut up into smaller more manageable pieces, melted down in an induction furnace at around 3200F and poured into the mold, after several days of cooling the form was broken out of the sand-cast.”
Stepping over the sculpture, one feels like the keeper of a secret—a delicate note that adds to the sensory symphony within one of the world’s best restaurants. That said, it’s art but also a functional step. “A restaurant is not the most ideal place for sculpture,” Turner explains, “So I think the boundary of utility was one that made a lot of sense to me. These objects were the physical embodiment of the restaurant and it was important to honor those materials in a formal non-decorative way.”
Eleven Madison Park is open to the public once more, with Turner’s piece visible, following the aforementioned renovations.
Images courtesy of Daniel Turner