Two New Art Installations Grace Lower Manhattan Federal Buildings

July 23, 2009

Two New Art Installations Grace Lower Manhattan Federal Buildings

NEW YORK CITY – In recent months two new art installations have been added to the Federal Plaza complex in lower Manhattan under the U.S. General Services Administration’s Art and Architecture program. Both works are located within the new pavilions added to the Broadway side of the Jacob K. Javits Federal Building and the Lafayette Plaza side of the adjacent James Watson Court of International Trade Building. Although located within the pavilions, both are visible to the public without having to enter the federal facilities.

Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing 746 has been installed at the Broadway – Worth Street corner of the Jacob. K. Javits Federal Building pavilion. Executed in acrylic paint, the work consists of 36 identically-sized cubes each measuring 5’ by 5’. The design is based on detailed instructions written by the artist that have been specified to the dimensions of the wall in this particular site.

LeWitt’s (1928 – 2007) unique viewpoint toward art is articulated in his statement, “In conceptual art the idea or concept is the most important aspect of the work. When an artist uses a conceptual form of art, it means that all of the planning and decisions are made beforehand and the execution is a perfunctory affair. The idea becomes a machine that makes the art.” Through this concept, LeWitt’s wall drawings are precisely described, with clear diagrams that enable them to be created by others on his behalf. Approximately twelve hundred such wall drawings exist, each of them numbered in the order in which they were realized. Wall Drawing 746 was first created in 1994 and, under the licensing agreement with LeWitt’s estate, will remain at Federal Plaza for twenty years, with a possible extension for an additional ten years.

Silent Struggle, a cor-ten steel sculpture by Lucas Samaras (b. 1936), is visible off the lobby area of the Watson Court of International Trade Building facing the Lafayette Plaza. The 1976 work was originally installed in the courtyard of the Hale Boggs Federal Complex in New Orleans. However, following conservation it was determined it could no longer be maintained outdoors. The CIT pavilion area provides a perfect location to offer protection for the artwork, as well as maintaining viewing access for the public. 

The GSA Art in Architecture Program commissions the nation’s leading artists to create large-scale works of art for federal buildings. These artworks enhance the civic meaning of federal architecture and showcase the vibrancy of American visual arts. Together, the art and architecture of federal buildings create a lasting cultural legacy for the people of the United States.


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Last Reviewed 2016-06-30