Andy Goldsworthy at Galerie Lelong & Co.

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Andy Goldsworthy_ Red Flags. March 31 – May 7, 2022. Opening reception: Thursday, March 31, from 6:00pm – 8:00pm. Artist talk with Brett Littman: Saturday, April 23, 11:00am in the gallery and on Zoom

Galerie Lelong & Co., New York is pleased to announce the opening of Andy Goldsworthy: Red Flags, previously exhibited in 2020 for Frieze Sculpture at Rockefeller Center. For this exhibition, Red Flags (2020) has been recontextualized in the gallery space, creating a new understanding in the process. The flags will be shown in their weathered states, having been subject to rain, sun, and wind whilst installed at the Center for a month. Red Flags will be accompanied by two film works originating from the piece.

During his visit to Rockefeller Center in November 2019, Goldsworthy observed the U.S. state flags flying in place of the customary flags that represent the countries of the United Nations. In response, he proposed to replace these with flags colored with earth from each state. Having worked for many years with red earth found near his home in Scotland, he was aware of the remarkable staining qualities that result in vibrant and permanent colors. While red earth is a familiar material, the artist also considered the significance of the material in the context of a flag as most often flags denote land that was fought over. Goldsworthy has also referred to red earth as the earth’s veins, its iron content being the same reason our blood is red. According to the artist when proposing the work, “Collectively I hope they will transcend borders. The closeness of one flagpole to another means that in certain winds the flags might overlap in a continuous flowing line. My hope is that these flags will be raised to mark a different kind of defense of the land. A work that talks of connection and not division.” 

With the arrival of the pandemic, the project at Rockefeller Center was delayed by several months. The September 2020 unveiling of Red Flags witnessed the flags both still and moving during a period of uncertainty. Goldsworthy said in advance of the installation: “Red Flags may not have been conceived as a response to recent events, but it is now bound up with the pandemic, lockdown, division and unrest.” said the artist. “However, I hope that the flags will be received in the same spirit with which all the red earths were collected—as a gesture of solidarity and support.”

A set of 50 flags will hang vertically in a linear form along the walls of the gallery. As the viewer walks this line, different qualities of red emerge, referencing the embedded layers of the landscape and the people who have gone before. The line is a constant investigation in Goldsworthy’s practice, and it appears once more, with the flags becoming a single flowing work of canvas, earth, color, stillness, movement, and humanity. The original reds of the flags have also been changed by the weather conditions they experienced; an additional layer hidden but always present. By examining the contexts of flags and their connections to land and geography, their inherent and potential meanings are evoked in these varying qualities of red earths.

Accompanying the flags are two film works that are informed by or evoke the passage of time, a central theme of Goldsworthy’s art. The first film is a compilation of each flag flown and filmed at his studio throughout the pandemic’s confinement. The movement of the flags—sometimes calm and slow, sometimes furiously waving—brings opposing feelings of peace and distress. The second film captures a flag stained with earth from all 50 states of the U.S. flown in Scotland from November 3 to 4, 2020: a period beginning with the U.S.’s Election Day and ending as presidential results were being released. To date, the flag remains flying and will only be taken down by the artist at the next election. In this specific event and in his overarching practice, Goldsworthy notes our heightened awareness of time; a provoked and abrupt change in our minds set against the everyday reality of time steadily passing in nature.

In commemoration of Earth Day, the artist will be in conversation with Brett Littman, director of the Isamu Noguchi Foundation and Garden Museum and curator of Frieze Sculpture 2020, on Saturday, April 23, 2022, in the gallery at 11am ET. Registration link to follow.

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