Sculptor Alex Da Corte Brought a Bright Blue Big Bird to the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Rooftop—See Images Here

"It's a surrogate for where we are collectively at this moment," the show's curator says.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

In the 1985 film Sesame Street Presents: Follow That Bird, Big Bird gets kidnapped by a traveling circus. Its owners paint him blue, cage him, and force him to sing the song “I’m So Blue” for their audience.

Thankfully, Big Bird seems to have made his escape in Alex Da Corte‘s new roof garden commission for the Metropolitan Museum of Art. He perches in all his feathered glory atop a crescent moon and clutches a ladder as he floats through space, balanced atop a fully functioning Alexander Calder-style mobile. The ladder suggests that he is not stranded, and that he has the ability to end his isolation.

“It’s a surrogate for where we are collectively at this moment, kind of contemplating a future and not knowing what we’re facing—really, a sense of vulnerability,” Shanay Jhaveri, the museum’s assistant curator of international Modern and contemporary art, told Artnet News. “It’s about this idea of looking out at new horizons.”

The sculpture, As Long as the Sun Lasts, is named for a Italo Calvino’s short story about intergalactic travelers searching for a planet to call home.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Alex began the project at the height of the pandemic,” Jhaveri said. “He thought the work should speak to the future and also encapsulate our own sense of vulnerability and confronting uncertainty.”

The 40-year-old artist chose to paint Big Bird’s feathers blue not only because of the Sesame Street film, but also in reference to the Muppet’s Brazilian cousin, Garibaldo, who Da Corte watched as a child in Venezuela, as well as the color’s traditional associations with sadness.

The piece’s melancholic feel is offset with a sense of whimsy, with the base of the mobile built to look like the interlocking plastic walls of a Little Tykes Outdoor Activity Gym—another ’80s relic. It’s signed with Da Corte’s take on Calder’s signature monogram, and the number 69, in reference to the year of the moon landing, the first episode of Sesame Street, and when Da Corte’s father immigrated to the U.S.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“Alex wanted to touch upon the liveliness and the unpredictability that is so much at the heart of Calder’s practice, but also the playfulness,” Jhaveri said.

Fabricating the piece was a challenge, from producing Big Bird’s 7,000 individually placed aluminum feathers to achieving the perfect balance of the mobile, which spins gently in the breeze.

“It was very important that it had to move, but not be mechanized,” Jhaveri said. “It had to be something that  responded to the air currents and moved intermittently, because in life, things happen intermittently—it’s not instant.”

See more photos of the work below.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Anna-Marie Kellen, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view. Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts for the 2021 Roof Garden Commission at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, installation view (detail). Photo by Hyla Skopitz, courtesy of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

“The Roof Garden Commission: Alex Da Corte, As Long as the Sun Lasts” is on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue, New York, April 16–October 31, 2021. 


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