For two weeks in November, visitors to Times Square will encounter a giant inflatable sculpture composed of splashy, blob-like forms, in the heart of the plaza. The piece, Sculpture of Dreams, is by the renowned conceptual artist Marta Minujín, who over a six-decade career has become known for her playful, genre-defying and often immersive works that today seem like radical forebears of art experiences in the Instagram era.
Set to be unveiled on 8 November, Sculpture of Dreams will be Minujín’s first public sculpture in New York and, at 30ft tall, one of the largest art installations placed in Times Square to date. It is made of 16 blown-up amorphous pieces that form a whimsical passageway through which people can pass. Inside, surrounded by a whirlwind of colour, visitors will hear recordings of birdsong and be prompted to whisper their hopes and dreams into the work before exiting.
“It’s a perfect environment to be in Times Square, surrounded by all those videos, the lights, the colours,” Minujín says. “People can go and dream inside. It’s so noisy, Times Square, but [my sculpture] allows a space that invites you to go wherever your imagination takes you. You can have an effect of isolation inside.”
Born and based in Argentina, Minujín has developed a practice encompassing painting, sculpture, installation and performance that harnesses the boldness and object-oriented language of Pop art. Many of her projects are ephemeral, from a monumental replica of the Obelisk of Buenos Aires made out of panettone (eaten by participants) to a statue of the Venus de Milo carved of cheese to a copy of the Parthenon built from banned books, shown in 2017 at Documenta 14. Her legendary labyrinthine installation La Menesunda (1965), restaged in 2019 at the New Museum in New York, conveys through 11 connected rooms of surreal happenings her longstanding explorations of consumer and spectacle cultures, mass media and the power of social interactions.
Sculpture of Dreams references some of Minujín’s early works, a series of multicoloured mattresses begun in the early 1960s, while the artist was living in Paris. Contorted into cubes, installed as twisted masses on walls or suspended from the ceiling, the soft sculptures dramatise everyday sites of dreams and desires. Previous iterations of Minujín’s inflatable versions were shown at Lollapalooza Argentina in 2022 and at her 2023 retrospective at Pinacoteca de São Paulo.
The New York debut of Sculpture of Dreams is commissioned by Times Square Arts and presented in partnership with the Jewish Museum, which on 17 November will open a major survey of Minujín’s work. Marta Minujín: Arte! Arte! Arte!—the artist’s first survey in the US—will feature nearly 100 works, including examples of her mattress sculptures, large-scale paintings and documentation of her happenings.
“This is a rare opportunity to experience Minujín’s fluorescent spirit on a monumental scale,” Rebecca Shaykin, associate curator at the Jewish Museum, said of Sculpture of Dreams. “Those who crave immersive, multisensory encounters with art will not be disappointed.”
Both the inflatable, on view until November 21, and the survey exhibition will be a homecoming of sorts for Minujín, who first travelled to New York in 1966 and became immersed in its art scene. She lived between the city and Buenos Aires over the next decade. “I love New York,” Minujín says. “It’s my city: first New York, then Buenos Aires.”
- Marta Minujín: Sculpture of Dreams, 8-21 November, Times Square, New York
- Marta Minujín: Arte! Arte! Arte!, 17 November 2023-31 March 2024, Jewish Museum, New York