‘I Want to Make Something That Seems Really Improbable’: Watch Diana Al-Hadid Create Sculptures That Defy Gravity

As part of a collaboration with Art21, hear news-making artists describe their inspirations in their own words.

A still from Diana Al-Hadid, "Suspended Reality." Courtesy of Art21.

New York’s Madison Square Park looks a little bit like an enchanted forest right now. A seemingly weightless cast of a female form reclines atop a porous matrix approximating a pedestal, while a fountain is overtaken by a sculptural waterfall that appears frozen in time.

These are a few of the six new sculptures by the Syrian-born artist Diana Al-Hadid commissioned by the Park Conservancy for “Delirious Matter,” her first major public art project.

Al-Hadid creates masterful pieces through a process that she describes as a “blend fresco and tapestry.” But her ethereal and drippy works belie the enormous effort it takes to bring them to life. She experiments with unusual materials like beeswax, plaster, and polymers, which she reinforces with fiberglass and carefully hidden steel armatures to make the resulting sculptures appear weightless.

In a 2013 interview with Art21, the artist recalled an influential early encounter with Renaissance paintings that seemed to challenge the laws of physics. Her work shares an interest in flouting the conventions of time, space, and her own materials. “For me to get a sculpture to lift off the floor…that’s the first way to rebel,” she said.

To see the artist at work and to hear more about her unique process, watch the full clip from Art21’s “New York Close Up” below. “Diana Al-Hadid: Delirious Matter” is on view at Madison Square Park through September 3.

This is an installment of “Art on Video,” a collaboration between artnet News and Art21 that brings you clips of newsmaking artists throughout the summer. A new season of the nonprofit Art21’s flagship Art in the Twenty-First Century television series premieres this September on PBS. Watch full episodes and learn about the organization’s education programs at Art21.org.


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