Manhattan West, an eight-acre, mixed-use development in New York’s Midtown between the Moynihan Train Hall and Hudson Yards, will soon be home to two new public artworks by Charles Ray and Christopher Wool. They are the most high-profile artists yet to contribute works to the sprawling complex, built by Brookfield Properties to host office skyscrapers alongside open-to-all plazas, a residential tower and more pockets of activity. The works will be unveiled on 5 June.
Wool’s commission—his first public work—is a mosaic that will be installed in the office lobby of Two Manhattan West, while Ray’s will be more immediately accessible to passersby. Placed outside One and Two Manhattan West, Ray’s sculpture, titled Adam and Eve (2023), consists of two larger-than life, selfie-friendly figures made of the glistening, intricately machined stainless-steel blocks for which the Los Angeles-based artist is known. It arrives after a banner year for Ray that saw major career retrospectives open at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Centre Pompidou, and his takeover of a Whitney Museum roof terrace during the 2022 Whitney Biennial.
In a statement, Ray highlighted the “harmonious relationship” between Manhattan West’s architecture and its setting. Adam and Eve is designed to “sit and stand in the spatial reality of the civic world that defines them”, he wrote. “Eve sits at the viewer’s eye level and the liveliness of the street, with its light and its noise, reflects from her surface. Adam, standing, teeters as he looks towards Ninth Avenue. The figures stir space as if space was cake batter in a bowl.”
Wool similarly plays with scale in his mosaic, which translates a recently created painting of his into a massive work of stone and glass with the aid of artisans in Venice. Measuring 28ft by 39ft, the mosaic, Crosstown Traffic (2023), marks Wool’s first time working in the medium and is his largest piece to date. Installed in a lobby of a commercial skyscraper, yet visible from the street through floor-to-ceiling glass, the mosaic highlights the blurred boundaries of privately owned public space—most recently exemplified by Anish Kapoor’s so-called mini-bean sculpture, which bulges from the base of a luxury condo in Tribeca out to the sidewalk.