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Public art installation will pit mythological female figures against skycrapers in Madison Square Park

‘Delirious Matter’ by Diana Al-Hadid will hit the park in May.

Female figures by artist Diana Al-Hadid, called

Female figures by artist Diana Al-Hadid, called "Delirious Matter," are coming to Madison Square Park in May. Photo Credit: Tony Prikyll

Madison Square Park will be flanked by four captivating female figures this spring.

Syrian-born, Brooklyn-based artist Diana Al-Hadid has created a new six-sculpture installation called “Delirious Matter” for the park that includes two “wall” works with rows of hedges, three reclining female figures called “Synonym” on plinths, and a female bust that perches atop a fragmented mountain that will sit in the park’s reflecting pool.

The 14-feet-tall walls are porous — made with poured polymer, modified gypsum and fiberglass — allowing viewers to see through the sculpture. These walls will act as an extreme contrast to the imposing skyscrapers surrounding the park, according to the Madison Square Park Conservancy.

One of the walls depicts Gradiva, a mythological female that is the subject of a novella of the same name by Wilhelm Jensen. In the book, the protagonist names Gradiva after Mars Gradivus, the Roman god of war walking into battle.

The second wall and the bust in the park’s reflecting pool are inspired by a painting called “Allegory of Chastity” by Hans Memling and early Renaissance paintings that depict women that seemingly disappear under their voluminous skirts — mountain-like figures.

“Delirious Matter” (and a lot of Al-Hadid’s work) is inspired by her love of story.

“I was educated by modernist instructors in the Midwest, but also was raised in an Islamic household with a culture that very much prizes narrative and folklore,” she said.

The installation is her first of this size in both scale and audience and the 36th outdoor exhibition organized by the Madison Square Park Conservancy.

The female figures and walls will hit the park on May 7 and will remain until Sept. 3.


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