An image of Wheatfield–A Confrontation, 1982, two acres of wheat planted and harvested by Agnes Denes on the Battery Park landfill, commissioned by Public Art Fund, is appearing in her retrospective at The Shed in Hudson Yards, October 9 to January 19. Photography courtesy of Agnes Denes and Leslie Tonkonow Artworks + Projects.
It was May 1982 when 200 truckloads of dirt were brought to a vacant lot. Volunteers dug hundreds of furrows and sowed thousands of seeds. An irrigation system was set up and the field was maintained for months. In August, a crop yielding more than 1,000 pounds of golden wheat was harvested. Kansas or Oklahoma? Far from it. This took place in what is today called Battery Park, and it was the vision of Agnes Denes, the now 88-year-old conceptual artist who lives in SoHo, just a few blocks north of that landmark environmental installation nearly 40 years ago. Come October 9, she’ll be at Hudson Yards, where her retrospective “Agnes Denes: Absolutes and Intermediates” appears at The Shed. The exhibition, which runs through January 19, features over 150 of her works, including three new ones commissioned by The Shed, among them A Forest for New York. Ongoing since 2014, it’s Denes’s proposal to turn another landfill, this time 120 acres in Far Rockaway, Queens, into a lush public park by planting 100,000 trees.