One can only imagine how daunting a feat it would be to select art for star architect Jean Nouvel or one of his projects. Even more daunting, perhaps, would be hosting an art exhibition in the gallery for 53W53—Nouvel’s glorious new spire rising 1,050 feet directly on the MoMA campus. 53W53, casually referred to as the MoMA Tower, isn’t an ordinary luxury residence. Its exterior can only be defined by a word of Nouvel’s invent: diagrid (which more or less translates to exoskeleton). Inside, however, the building will host three floors of new MoMA gallery space. Art, here, is tantamount to nothing. It has informed Nouvel’s design and will most likely breathe through the floors once 53W53 opens. In the meantime, curators Romain Dauriac and Jenny Mushkin Goldman have carefully assembled a contemporary art exhibition in the sales gallery that most traditional gallery spaces would find enviable. Featuring 17 artists and works drawn from numerous galleries and private collections, “Singular Object” is a diverse wealth of the curious and magnificent.
“There is a book,” Goldman explains to CH. “It’s The Singular Object of Architecture. It comes from a series of interviews that Jean Nouvel had with Jean Baudrillard, the philosopher.” This book became the launch point for the exhibition after both curators read it. “We familiarized ourself first with the philosophies outlined within. We wanted to make sure the art came from this,” she continues. Together, they began to brainstorm artists and then commenced with gallery outreach. Within the space, one will find a Dustin Yellin sculpture opposite a Will Ryman piece. There are three Ivan Navarro wall-mounted infinity sculptures. Jenny Holzer isn’t far from Jon Rafman. Even a hand-signed M.C. Escher lithograph has a place here. The stand-out, however, is an almost ten foot long paper and glitter Katsumi Hayakawa sculpture, “Fata Morgana.”
One of the most alluring attributes of this exhibition—beyond the recognizable artist names—has to be its most debatable feature. Rarely, if ever, will most people have the opportunity to see works like this on apartment walls. Here, the model apartment isn’t gallery white. Furniture and decor occupies the interspace. This empowers the pieces. 53W53 isn’t the only building to attempt something like this. They are, however, the only organization to host a real, academic exhibition—rather than dress the walls with prints or furniture store art. “Being an art collector or an art enthusiast is a lifestyle,” Goldman continues. Referencing the close relationship between architecture and the visual art she adds “This works exceptionally well for this development so we approached it very academically. We wanted a strong curatorial push—not to decorate but to have a narrative throughout.”
“How do you experience the situation—and its sensations?” Dauriac asks. “Nouvel comes from a structuralist background, from the ’60s in France. I think, for them the study of the experiences and feelings was important. That’s what he wanted to do with the building, so this is what we wanted to do with the artwork.” The exhibition’s sensation matches that of the forthcoming building: a unification of the concepts of wonder and home life. In a way, these two concepts become a singular object.
“Singular Object” will be on display through 21 April in the 53W53 Gallery at 745 Fifth Avenue.
Images courtesy of 53W53