Port Sunlight. For the exhibition, Woods has created a total of 9 new patterns that will clad portions of the Lever House lobby and outdoor area, transforming the modernist landmark with a multitude of patterns and high intensity colors. Each pattern rendered is a set of print blocks that are used to create the panels that will cover sections of the Lever House and its grounds. Woods' site-specific projects use basic materials (wood, household paint) to create vividly different graphic surroundings.
Perry Rubenstein Gallery announces Richard Woods' upcoming project Port Sunlight at the Lever House in New York, commissioned by the Lever House Art Collection. For the exhibition, Woods has created a total of 9 new patterns that will clad portions of the Lever House lobby and outdoor area, transforming the modernist landmark with a multitude of patterns and high intensity colors. Each pattern rendered is a set of print blocks that are used to create the panels that will cover sections of the Lever House and its grounds, including all of the structural steel columns, the Noguchi benches in the pedestrian area around the building's perimeter, and sections of the floor inside the glass-enclosed lobby. Known for meshing art and design, history and humor, highbrow aesthetics with pop culture, Woods' site-specific projects use basic materials (wood, household paint) to create vividly different graphic surroundings.
For this commission, Woods began researching the history of the Lever Brothers Ltd., which began as a small soap-manufacturing endeavor in London in the 1800's. As the Lever Company expanded, they founded a model village to accommodate their growing conglomerate and, coincidentally, the Lady Lever Gallery (named after William Lever's late wife) to house their enormous collection of British Victorian art. The village, dubbed "Port Sunlight" was designed with Mock Tudor style houses purvey the fascination of decoration that the Levers possessed and that permeated all areas of their art collecting. Woods was born and raised in Cheshire, near the village, and visited the Lady Lever Gallery often. It was there that his fascination with William Morris' textile design began; Morris' preference for the flat use of line and color and abhorrence of "realistic" rendering or shading became integral factors in Woods' work.
The Lever Company became multinational, and the Lever House in New York was built and used as offices. Woods uses this rich history for his project, imposing Victorian decoration (William Morris inspired graphic depictions of nature, mock Tudor patterns) onto the elegant minimal language of the building. The hand printed fiberboard tiles will create a "High" Victorian veneer that is the complete architectural and decorative antithesis of its modernist host. As well as drawing attention to the two stylistic opposites of Victoriana and Modernism, the work will also draw parallels with the contemporary commissioning nature of the Lever House Art Collection and the collecting style of William Leith Lever in late 19th Century England.
Woods was born in Chester in 1966 and now lives and works in London. He received his MA at the Slade School of Fine Art in London in 1990. Woods has had solo shows in London, Athens, Rome, Paris, Berlin and Turin since 1994. He has done commissions and exhibitions with the Wimbledon School of Art at Oxford University, The Henry Moore Foundation in Leeds, Paul Smith and Çomme des Garçons in Tokyo. Last May, Woods' largest permanent exterior commission for the headquarters of MCM in Seoul, South Korea was completed. The Victoria & Albert Museum in London commissioned a permanent installation for their main lobby, which was launches this month.
Image: Richard Woods, Floral Repeat no. 35, 2009
Household gloss printed on MDF, Dimensions variable
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Perry Rubenstein Gallery
Opening December 3, 2009
Park Avenue between 53rd and 54th Streets, New York