The first group exhibition on the High Line, Lilliput features miniature sculptures installed in unusual and unexpected places at the High Line – amongst the vegetation and along the pathway – to create an art treasure hunt for visitors. Lilliput reflects on the traditional role of public art by offering a counterbalance to the monumental scale often employed for plaza sculptures and other outdoor installations in public spaces. Lilliput takes its title from Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, conjuring a magical world populated by fairy tale creatures, mysterious idols, and dreamlike landscapes.
Lilliput features sculptures by six artists from around the globe:
Based in Berlin, Oliver Laric (b. 1981, Austria) presents Sun Tzu Janus, a colorful resin cast of Sun Tzu, the legendary author of The Art of War, a book about military strategy that has recently been adopted in other fields as an inspiration on how to succeed in highly competitive situations. Inspired by the recent public obsession with Sun Tzu, Laric cast one of Sun Tzu’s busts as a two-faced idol reminiscent of Janus, the Roman two-faced god who looks back at the past and into the future, thus hybridizing Eastern and Western cultures.
The Los Angeles-based artist Alessandro Pessoli (b. 1963, Italy) makes sculptural works that reference the production of traditional Italian ceramics. For this exhibition, Pessoli explores the materials of bronze and steel to create Old Singer with Blossoms, a 9-foot-tall sculpture of a mysterious figure resembling a lonely scarecrow. Half human and half stylized, the figure is installed among the birch trees and old freight train tracks embedded in the planting beds near the southern end of the High Line, standing out amidst the densely-planted vegetation as an oversized deity of a forgotten past.
Japanese artist Tomoaki Suzuki (b. 1972, Japan) is known for small wooden figurative sculptures depicting real people with distinct urban style. For Lilliput, Suzuki presents his first outdoor sculpture, Carson, a young man wearing a black leather jacket and tight pants. Usually one-third of human scale, Suzuki’s sculptures update the traditional technique of wood carving to a contemporary multicultural style.
Working at the intersection of sculpture and installation, UK-based artist Francis Upritchard (b.1976, New Zealand) crafts a world populated by miniatures idols, eerie creatures, and fantastical animals. Upritchard’s new work, titled The Seduction, is a bronze sculpture of two small monkeys frozen in an embrace.
Erika Verzutti (b. 1971, Brazil) experiments with sculpture by combining abstract modernist shapes with natural forms such as vegetables and animals. On the High Line, Verzutti presents Dino Abacate, Dino Tropical, Dino Pot, and Dino, a family of dinosaurs installed within the sumac and magnolia trees below the Falcone Flyover, the elevated pathway on the High Line between West 25th and West 27th Streets. The sculptures evoke a prehistoric site populated by primordial creatures.
New York-based artist Allyson Vieira (b. 1979, Massachusetts) is known for large-scale installations feature casts of body parts and common objects. For Lilliput, Vieira presents Construction (Rampart), a bronze cast of a paper cup pyramid. As it ages over the course of the 12-month exhibition, the sculpture will collect plant debris and water, transforming into an urban relic and evoking the past trajectory of the High Line itself.
(1,6,7) Photo by Bill Orcutt; (2,4,5) Photo by Austin Kennedy; (3) Photo courtesy of Friends of the High Line.