20 SEPTEMBER 2011 – 19 FEBRUARY 2012
The visualization of a densely packed storm system, Michael Sailstorfer's Tornado will rise to more than 25 feet and feature some one hundred distinct "clouds" made of inflated truck inner tube tires attached to a steel structure. Each is secured individually and rustles in the wind, revealing hints of the armature, and creating a dynamic, kinetic sculpture. Though not intended as a literal representation of a cyclone, the work is inspired by the high-velocity winds and raw power associated with these weather phenomena.
This arresting sculpture is the first public commission in the United States by Berlin-based artist Michael Sailstorfer (b. Velden, Germany, 1979). It is a powerful response to the attributes of the site, for which it was conceived, and to the epic scale of New York City. Rising more than 30 feet to meet the treetops of Central Park, Tornado brings together a series of opposite terms. It combines lightness and weight, with looming black “clouds” made from inflated truck tire inner tubes that gently shift in the breeze. Its muscular steel armature zigzags from top to bottom while the ballooning rubber forms that hang in bunches from its spiraling arms are knotted together in bulging clusters. Like a tornado, which is violently powerful but also literally made of air, Sailstorfer’s towering work provides a visceral experience of sculptural form and materials in tension, massive but also vulnerable.
Tornado is the largest in a series of the artist’s sculptures that draw on rubber tires, inner tubes, and ideas of movement and velocity. Much of his work engages with natural forces and the way we perceive them through form and physical space. At the same time, there is often a hint of whimsy in Sailstorfer’s art, conjuring a sense of playfulness, backyard experimentation, and visual wit.© Images James Ewing