This spring, a different kind of tree will take root on the High Line, the New York public park built on an elevated former industrial rail line on the West Side of Manhattan. The work commissioned by High Line Art, Old Tree, a 25ft-tall pink and red sculpture by Swiss artist Pamela Rosenkranz, will remain on view through September of 2024.
Rosenkranz will lend her bold and atmospheric sense of colour to the High Line’s Plinth space, a prominent site for monumental contemporary sculptures located over the intersection of Tenth Avenue and West 30th Street. Old Tree is the third High Line Plinth commission to date, following Simone Leigh’s bronze sculpture, Brick House, in 2019, and Sam Durant’s large fiberglass installation, Untitled (drone), in 2021. Artworks on the Plinth are selected from globally solicited artist proposals and rotated every 18 months.
The arresting Old Tree, an eerie, synthetically-rendered nod to the interconnectedness of nature and humanity, evokes visual references ranging from the Norse mythological “Yggdrasil”, or tree of life, to the human circulatory system. Plans are in place to activate the installation with public programming on the themes of anthropology and botany.
Rosenkranz, whose work has been featured at venues including the Centre Pompidou in Paris and the Institute of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, creates sculptures, videos, paintings and installations interrogating the anthropocenic focus of human perception. Intense, fabricated colour features heavily in her oeuvre, and the sanguine Old Tree proves no exception. In an Instagram post announcing the project, Rosenkranz characterized the sculpture as “a memory that makes us forget”, alluding to the precarious future of flora on an increasingly hostile planet.
The installation of Old Tree will precede the opening of the Moynihan-High Line Connector, a new footbridge that will connect the High Line and elevated plazas at the adjacent Hudson Yards megadevelopment with the nearby Moynihan Train Hall.