Lighting up Madison Square

Nick Myall
Monday 25 Sep 2017

Known for creating spectacular light projects on the facades of buildings Erwin Redl is bringing his Whiteout art project to New York

Madison Square Park Conservancy has announced its thirty-fifth exhibition, Whiteout by artist Erwin Redl. The project features a luminous white carpet of LED lights across Madison Square Park's central Oval Lawn,on view from November 16, 2017 through April 15, 2018.   

Whiteout, a newly commissioned public art project by artist Erwin Redl (Austrian, b. 1963, lives and works in Ohio and New York City) is comprised of hundreds of transparent white spheres, each embedded with a discrete, white LED light and suspended from a square grid of steel poles and cabling. The orbs will be opportunistic, gently swaying with the wind currents from their positions of two feet above the ground plane. Redl will create a computer-generated undulating wave pattern across the work, slowly forming from north to south and south to north. The sequence of light will be an incandescent treatment of urban public space across the dark seasons of the late fall and winter.

The use of white in modern and contemporary sculpture is notable. Louise Nevelson, Charles Ray, David Smith, and Cy Twombly have all created in white, often as a unifying formal element. In Whiteout, Redl assesses white for its typical association with light, but he pushes the associated imagery through repetition and kinetic movement. 

Erwin Redl is best known for creating spectacular light projects on the facades of buildings. He has studied the work of artists in the Southern California Light and Space movement of the late 1960s including Larry Bell, Robert Irwin, James Turrell, and Doug Wheeler, but his materials diverge from their art. His interest is in “tiny sequencing of lights,” he said in a 2014 interview. “…I see myself much more in a…land art context than an artificial, strictly technological context,” Redl explained. He cites the Minimalist conceptual artist Fred Sandback, whose yarn drawings in space Redl first saw in 1997, as an inspiration.

Whiteout will be the thirty-fifth outdoor exhibition organized by Madison Square Park Conservancy. The project is organized by Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Director and Martin Friedman Senior Curator, Mad. Sq. Art, Julia Friedman, Curatorial Manager, and Tom Reidy, Senior Project Manager.

Erwin Redl was born in Gföhl, Austria in 1963. He studied composition and electronic music at the University of Music and Performing Arts in Vienna where he received his BA in 1990 and a Diploma in Electronic Music in 1991. He moved to New York in 1993 and received an MFA in Computer Art at the School of Visual Arts in 1995. His work was included in the 2002 Whitney Biennial where the artist lit the facade of the Whitney Museum of American Art. In 2010, Redl installed a monumental project across the front of the Wexner Center at The Ohio State University in Columbus. Redl was awarded a Percent for Art commission in 2014 by the City of New York for the New York Police Academy in Queens. He was tapped as one of four artists nationally to create work for the 2015 Bloomberg Philanthropies Public Art Challenge. Redl’s successful proposal for Spartanburg, South Carolina, a city of 40,000 residents, opened in fall 2016.

Madison Square Park’s 6.2-acre site welcomes more than 60,000 daily visitors—a richly diverse audience including local residents, families, public school groups and day camps, office workers, students, artists, and international visitors. 

UAP, with offices in New York City, Brisbane and Shanghai, will be working with the artist and the Conservancy to fabricate Whiteout.

Erwin Redl said: “I am intrigued by the Park’s option of a large-scale installation that blurs the border between the virtual and the real. The physicality of the swaying orbs in conjunction with the abstract animations of their embedded white lights allows the public to explore a new, hybrid reality in this urban setting.”

"It is an honor for us to bring Erwin Redl's work to Madison Square Park,” said Keats Myer, Executive Director, Madison Square Park Conservancy. “Redl's project, based on how light can impact a space, will be a beauteous interpretation of the Oval Lawn during the shortest days of the calendar year. Park goers will be able to view the industrial elegance of Whiteout from our pathways as they traverse the site."

Brooke Kamin Rapaport, Director and Martin Friedman Senior Curator, Mad. Sq. Art said: "Redl is summoning Earthworks for his project in Madison Square Park. Like Dennis Oppenheim and Robert Smithson's art, the overall form of Whiteout brings a geometric expanse to the outdoor realm. Whiteout's carpet of light, realized with hundreds of orbs lit with LEDs, is just above the ground plane and will transform our perception of stillness and subtlety in an urban setting."

A celebrated series of sculpture exhibitions by living artists, Mad. Sq. Art was launched by Madison Square Park Conservancy in 2004 to bring free public art programs to New York. The program has received extensive critical and public attention since its inception and has developed into a world-class cultural institution. Its ambition and scale expands each year alongside an increasingly diverse range of innovative, world-class artists.

Join the conversation on Twitter and Instagram via the hashtags #MadSqArt and #ErwinRedl. For more information on Madison Square Park Conservancy and its programs, please visit

Nick Myall

News editor

Key Facts:

United States

Want to submit your project to World Architecture News?

Contact The Team