New York

Charles Ginnever

Hammarskjold Plaza

Charles Ginnever has three outdoor sculptures on Hammarskjold Plaza through February, two room-sized works and one large piece that seems designed for—or at least intelligently adjusted to—the site.

The last time I went to Hammarskjold Plaza it was for an Irish demonstration. I mention this because the sculpture site serves, I think, a certain worldly function. Hammarskjold Plaza is one rally terminus of a loop that spares the actual United Nations site the hassle of regular demonstrations, the other end being the small park below the Isaiah wall at 42nd Street. The outdoor sculpture setting is on the corner of Second Avenue and 47th Street. It belongs to a commercial building, the owner of which arranges the exhibitions, and it seems to form a clever obstacle between Hammarskjold Plaza proper and the nearest bars. Consequently, the presence of sculpture not only adds corporate luster to the buildings, but it also concretely aids in protecting the corporate property.

In this light Ginnever’s sculptures can take care of themselves. Two are hefty and one is rather sharp. Of the two smaller pieces, the pointy one, built of heavily rusted steel on a base like an extended hexagon with squares at the ends, has four deep but thin, twisted rhomboids rising at angles from the ends, like shadow boxes. The work has a certain elegance, arising partly from the fact that all the parts, including the elements of the base, come from the same stock. The leaning rhomboids, however, seem distorted from any angle, since where we expect to find true right angles—even if rotated in space—no right angles occur.

The other smaller piece consists of two right angles made with heavywooden planks and faced with heavy rusted sheet steel, held together by huge but unobtrusive screws. Each of the angles rests on one short and one long leg, and both face each other reciprocally in a kind of 69 arrangement. The effect is not unlike the Piranesian thrusts of heavy, angled members in di Suvero’s works.

The third and major sculpture is a large construction consisting of two visually simple but geometrically complex angles—their legs meet at a corner angle which is itself angled in space—once again, resting on their legs. This pair of angles is put together with massive, unfinished lumber, to which has been applied a cheerful, workmanly care that is noticeable in the crude but serviceable joins and in the practical yet honest patches fixing flaws in the timber. Whether by design or by adjustment to the site, where the legs of the angles are chamfered to rest flat on the ground, they also fit exactly into the corners of the square parapet on which the piece is set, claiming the space as well as enhancing it. I like the feeling that the work is built to spec.

Joseph Masheck