Atop the Plinth on the Spur section of the High Line, the bare branches of a man-made tree stretch toward the sky. The 25-foot tall sculpture, which is painted in shades of red and pink, was created by Swiss artist Pamela Rosenkranz. Titled Old Tree, the sculpture will loom over 10th Avenue and 30th Street through the Fall of 2024.
This large-scale artwork stands out among the green trees of the elevated park and the blue, grey, and brown building facades of the surrounding structures. Its sinuous, leafless branches resemble the pathways of a human circulatory system, mimicking the way branching systems of organs, blood vessels, and tissue spread throughout the body. This visual similarity inspires viewers to consider the connection between humans and plant life.
The aged tree also serves as a symbol for the ancient wisdom of human evolution and a future when “the synthetic has become nature.” This idea of the manmade world melding with nature is evident in the High Line itself, an urban park built on the remnants of the rail industry. The sculpture makes us question, what is truly “artificial” or “natural” in our world.
Old Tree on the High Line will be activated by public programming around themes of botany and anthropology. Rosenkranz’s sculpture is the third work of art to grace the Plinth since it first opened in 2019. The other two works that have stood at the Plinth include Sam Durant’s Untitled (drone) and Brick House by Simone Leigh. The Plinth Commission changes every 18 months,
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