Visitors to Frieze New York who take a break to stroll along the nearby High Line park will be struck to find, amid the verdant foliage springing from the former elevated industrial railroad, a bright red and pink tree. The 25ft-tall sculpture, Old Tree (2023) by the Swiss artist Pamela Rosenkranz, is the third work in the High Line Plinth commission series. “It’s funny to think that we’ve put this fake tree here among so many real trees,” says Cecilia Alemani, the director and chief curator of High Line Art. “But maybe that’s the future that awaits us—an environment with only synthetic plants.”
Rosenkranz originally proposed the sculpture before the Covid-19 pandemic, in late 2019, but with its fleshy surface, visible drips of paint and bare branches that evoke the inside of human lungs or the circulatory system, it is hard not to see the work as a commentary on both the environmental and global health crises. “The reflection of Covid is something Pamela could never have predicted, but that’s part of what makes public art so powerful—that it can accommodate so many changing interpretations,” Alemani says. “It shows how timely this piece is.”
Rosenkranz will figure prominently inside Frieze New York, too. Sprüth Magers and Karma International have devoted their joint stand to a solo presentation of her new mirrored works.