Winning a Sculpture Competition, an Israeli Artist Will Install 36-Foot-Tall Interlocking Trees in Frankfurt

An international jury unanimously selected the sculpture by Ariel Schlesinger.

Ariel Schlesinger. Courtesy of Ariel Schlesinger.

Artist Ariel Schlesinger’s sculpture of embracing skeleton trees has won the competition to appear as the cornerstone in a large-scale renewal project at Frankfurt’s Jewish Museum. Five artists were invited to send proposals, but the Israeli artist’s sculpture ultimately nabbed the top spot by the international jury’s unanimous vote.

Schlesinger’s Untitled consists of two interlocking skeleton trees, appearing in a matte bone-like surface, that mirror each other horizontally, their branches held in a twisted embrace with one set of roots extending into the air and the other’s planted in the ground. Poured with aluminum casts from a single tree in Italy, the entire sculpture will tower 36 feet high.

In one view, the work is representative of the changing dialogue between Jewish history and the city’s cultural present, says Frankfurt’s cultural affairs director Ina Hartwig.

Model for Ariel Schlesinger’s Untitled (2017/2018). Photo: Marcus Schneider © Jewish Museum Frankfurt

The sculpture will find its home in the foyer that bridges the museum’s historic Rothschild Palace and the large contemporary extension designed by Germany’s staab Architects, which is set to be unveiled in 2019 (at a cost of around €50 million). The production and installation of Schlesinger’s work is estimated to cost €350.000 ($413,870), an expense made possible by a donation from Rothschild, a British-French multinational investment banking company.

The descendants of the Rothschild family have roots in Frankfurt, tracing back to the 18th century where Mayer Amschel Rothschild founded the banking dynasty, having grown up in the city’s Jewish ghetto.

The work is being constructed in Italy this winter and is expected to appear in Frankfurt next fall.

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