Feature written by: Rebekah Drysdale
Roxy Paine's Maelstrom is a massive stainless steel sculpture that stretches from one end of the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Cantor Roof Garden to the other, rising 29 feet overhead. Weighing more than 7 tons, the tree-like sculpture is 130 feet long and 45 feet wide, making it Paine's largest and most ambitious work to date. The arboreal structure is composed of 10,000 pieces of stainless steel which range from three-eights of an inch to 10 inches in diameter. Visitors are able to walk within and around the steel branches in the garden-like atmosphere of the roof garden, overlooking Central Park.
Maelstrom asserts that man and human culture are not removed from, but very much a part of nature. The sculpture's network of branches mimics organic and biological systems as well as industrial systems, such as plumbing and piping, thus pointing to the connection between the natural world and the built environment. Poised above Central Park, Maelstrom echoes the element of controlled nature represented by the urban park, which was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted and is in fact almost entirely landscaped. However, as the title suggests, there are certain elements in nature that remain unbridled by man.
Roxy Paine, born in New York in 1966, studied both at the College of Santa Fe in New Mexico and Pratt Institute in New York. His work has been exhibited internationally and is included in major collections such as the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C. and the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. For the 2002 Whitney Biennial, he erected a 50 foot stainless steel tree in Central Park. The artist was previously featured on DailyServing in 2006.
Maelstrom opened in April and will remain on the roof until November 29, 2009 (weather permitting).