Tom Friedman: Looking Up
A captivating public sculpture by Tom Friedman, 'Looking Up', 2020 is now on view in midtown New York City at the entrance of Rockefeller Center’s Channel Gardens.
'Looking Up' is a larger-than-life sculpture of a figure contemplating the sky with a delightful sense of wonder and awe. Cast in highly polished stainless steel, the subject’s stance captures the familiar impulse to gaze up in admiration of a flying bird, a passing plane, or an iconic skyscraper. Situated on a busy stretch of Fifth Avenue, this public work invites viewers to stand at its base and marvel at the surrounding architecture.
The sculpture was cast in exquisite detail from a maquette originally fashioned by the artist from aluminium foil roasting trays. Friedman embraces the creases and lines of these malleable forms, transforming the domestic and disposable with an alchemic touch. Inviting viewers to look afresh at the familiar and the everyday. 'Looking Up' embodies the artist’s playful and exacting approach to art making.
While this new 10-foot high version of the sculpture was created for an outdoor landscape, the work’s first iteration made in 2012 was 3-feet tall and exhibited in London. In 2014, the original sculpture inspired Friedman to execute the work at a majestic height of 33-feet. Examples from the monumental 2014 edition have been installed temporarily at Park Avenue, New York, South Lake Shore Drive, Chicago, Illinois, and Tom Hanafan River’s Edge Park, Council Bluffs, Iowa. Two are now permanently situated at the Contemporary Austin, Texas and St. Louis Science Center and Planetarium, Missouri.
“People tend to physically internalize figurative sculpture. They mimic the sculpture’s gesture. 'Looking Up' represents a request to look beyond oneself and to engage in wonder, discovery, awe, and also positivity."
– Tom Friedman
“Art, for me, is a context to slow the viewer’s experience from their everyday life in order to think about things they haven’t thought about. Or to think in a new way.”
– Tom Friedman
"Among the most celebrated recent works by Friedman [...] are the artist’s crushed aluminum foil roasting-pan figures, sculptural objects that blend classic modernist sculpture with a child’s playful constructions. In the first stages of creation, Friedman carves his figures in rudimentary Styrofoam, then covers them with crushed baking tins, like a skin overlaying the foam structure. Through a process of molding and lost wax casting, the figures are eventually converted into stainless steel while retaining the detail and imprint of the baking tins."
– Heather Pesanti (Chief Curator, The Contemporary Austin, Texas)
TOM FRIEDMAN (American, b. 1965)
Fluctuating between the comical and conceptual, Tom Friedman’s meticulously rendered drawings and sculptures recreate random elements from his daily life and surroundings. Confounding expectations through startling trompe l'oeil, Friedman’s works reveal his remarkable attention to detail and handicraft. What might first appear to be a simple, stable structure is, on closer inspection, intricately constructed from unexpected materials such as Styrofoam, flock, wire or even the artist’s own hair.
Notable solo exhibitions include ‘Tom Friedman: The Epic in the Everyday’, South-Eastern Centre for Contemporary Art, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, travelling to Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco; Aspen Art Museum and New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York (2000); ‘Untitled (Foundation)’, Mead Art Museum, Amherst, Massachusetts (2016); ‘Up in the Air’, Magasin 3, Stockholm Konsthalle, Stockholm; touring to FRAC Montpellier, France (2010); ‘REAM’, Saint Louis Art Museum, Saint Louis, Missouri (2009); ‘Pure Invention’, Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum, Saint Louis, Missouri (2006); ‘Tom Friedman’, South London Gallery, London, England (2004) and ‘Stitching’, Fondazione Prada, Milan, Italy (2002).
Friedman’s works are included in prominent collections internationally, including Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, California; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California; Aspen Art Museum, Colorado; Guggenheim Museum, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Tel Aviv Museum of Art, Tel Aviv, Israel; Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden and Lisser Art Museum (LAM), Lisse, Netherlands.