When we tell you Crystal Bridges has a big heart, we’re not kidding.
This one is nearly ten feet wide. It’s Hanging Heart (Gold/Magenta), by Jeff Koons, the latest addition to Crystal Bridges’ collection, now hanging nine feet above the heads of diners in the Museum’s restaurant, Eleven.
Hanging Heart and the other steel sculptures were created to very demanding specifications by manufacturers in Germany. Koons is a perfectionist when it comes to surface finish, and in these works the labor pays off. The surface captures and reflects the lights and shapes from the dining bridge’s ribbed ceiling, skylights and glass walls, as well as, of course, the faces of its viewers. That reflection is part of the whole purpose of the work, according to the artist.
“Hanging Heart has a reflective surface because it’s important to me that when the viewer interacts with it that they realize that the art happens inside them,” Koons explained. “Affirmation of the self is really important to me—that, when the viewer comes, they realize that nothing happens without them. If they move to the right, everything shifts. If they move to the left, it’s a different kind of abstraction that occurs in the surface. Everything depends on them.”
The surface of the work is so reflective, so illusory, you can almost believe the huge steel heart to be a bubble, a balloon: something much lighter than its actual materials. But it is, indeed, an illusion. The work weighs in at more than 3,000 pounds.
Hanging an artwork of that weight from a ceiling that is suspended from four-inch cables requires a significant amount of engineering. To be sure that it was installed safely, the Museum called upon the international engineering consultants Buro Happold, who assisted with the original engineering of Crystal Bridges’ suspended roofs and also, serendipitously, have worked with Koons on previous occasions. The firm designed a fixture for securing the sculpture that will span two of the glue-laminated beams of the Museum’s ceiling. The enormous heart now hangs nine feet above the floor of the dining bridge, suspended from two structural ribbons made of coated steel.
Hanging Heart is one of the largest works to be installed inside the Museum. Simply getting it into the building was a feat—requiring the temporary removal of the lift in the Museum’s loading dock in order to bring in the enormous crate in which the work arrived from the fabricators in Germany (crate and artwork together tipping the scale at more than 5,000 pounds). The work was accompanied by a German installation team who assisted Crystal Bridges preparators—a process that took several days and involved a two large forklifts, a scissor lift, and a custom-built protective cage for the artwork as it was lifted and secured.
The effect is stunning. We hope you will visit soon and see yourself reflected in this remarkable work of art.
You can view the installation process step-by step in this slide show, below: