The Metropolitan Museum of Art has selected the Guyanese-British artist Hew Locke to create new works for its Fifth Avenue facade niches, the third in a new series of site-specific commissions for the museum’s exterior.
The project, “Gilt,” will be on view from Sept. 16 of this year through May 22, 2023.
“Hew Locke uses a delirious aesthetic of abundance and excess to reflect themes of deep urgency in the past and present, including wealth, imperial power, and prestige,” Sheena Wagstaff, the chairwoman of Modern and contemporary Art at the Met, said in a statement. “Locke’s work deftly interweaves the fine lines between theatricality, visual beauty, and critical insight.”
The artist, whose major commission “The Procession” recently opened at Tate Britain, will create four sculptures for the Met, shaped into whole and fragmented trophies that reference historical works in the museum’s collection.
Locke is known for assembling ready-made materials from disparate places and periods — such as coats of arms and warships — that deal with issues like power, migration and conquest.
Born in Edinburgh in 1959 and raised in Guyana, Locke returned to the United Kingdom in 1980, completing his bachelor’s degree in fine art at Falmouth University in 1988 and a master’s in sculpture at the Royal College of Art in 1994. He has since lived in London.
The Facade Commission started in 2019 with Wangechi Mutu’s “The NewOnes, will free Us,” followed in 2021 by Carol Bove’s “The séances aren’t helping.”
The commission “will be informed by Locke’s deep knowledge of the Met’s collection and will reference the institution in ways both direct and indirect,” Max Hollein, the museum’s director, said in a statement, “recovering and connecting histories across continents, oceans, and time periods.”