Park update: The Interim Walkway at the Western Rail Yards (between 30th & 34th Streets) is temporarily closed today.

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30th Street Challenge
Give by June 20

To meet the demands of our busiest time of the year, we ask all friends of the High Line to help us raise a total of $30,000—$1,000 for each block of our 1.5-mile-long park along Manhattan’s West Side.

Oliver Lee Jackson

A Journey
Untitled I; Untitled II; Untitled III; Untitled IV; Untitled V

June - October 2024
Location

On the High Line at the Western Rail Yards

Over the span of five decades, Oliver Lee Jackson has developed a singular practice, creating complex and layered work in which figuration melds with abstract fields of vivid color. Jackson’s works are tightly composed but feel improvisational in approach.

While Jackson is better known for his lyrical, abstract paintings, the artist also has a robust sculptural practice that he has honed over his long career. The five works on view on the High Line hail from the artist’s more recent exploration of scale—since 2020 Jackson has constructed several monumental slotted steel sculptures, largely based on smaller works of his from the late 1990s. The artist honors his utilitarian material, and yet the painted, cut, and pockmarked surfaces animate the sculptures beyond their material properties.

The sharp angles and abstract shapes Jackson cuts from the steel coalesce into elegant, perceptible figures. In Untitled II, a male figure with truncated legs is rendered in purple and black with a red heart covered in gold leaf attached to his steel chest. Conjuring an image of an injured war veteran struggling with homelessness, the work invokes both the figure’s humble circumstances and physical power—a reference, perhaps, to the ambiguities present in a heroic life.

A number of the works on view also continue Jackson’s exploration of a minimal “stick figure” approach to figuration. Untitled III has distilled the human form into a simple collection of narrow planes of steel that evoke a kneeling woman with a bouquet of flowers positioned between her knees. Untitled IV resembles a figure striding forward, assembled from a combination of steel planes furnished with black and white paint that add to its sense of determined motion.

Two distinct head forms anchor Jackson’s presentation. Untitled I depicts an angular, flattened head, topped with a simple red hat, each side painted with a rudimentary, but distinct, facial expression. Untitled V is a more abstract sculptural interpretation of a large head, painted in white with blue trim and eyes, birds, flowers, and other imagery rendered in black.

On view at the Western Rail Yards, Oliver Lee Jackson’s energetic work complements the section’s simple gravel pathway and original self-seeded, wild landscape.

Artist bio

Oliver Lee Jackson (b. 1935, St. Louis, Missouri) lives and works in Oakland, California. Jackson has held solo exhibitions in numerous museums including: St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri (2021); National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2019); San Jose Institute of Contemporary Art, San Jose, California (2017); Contemporary Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri (2012); University Art Gallery, University of Hawaii, Hilo, Hawaii (2008); Thompson Art Gallery, San Jose State University, San Jose, California (2016); Carpenter Center for the Visual Arts, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2002); Fogg Art Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts (2002); Fresno Art Museum, Fresno California (2000); Wiegand Gallery, College of Notre Dame, Belmont, California (2000); Crocker Art Museum, Sacramento, California (1993); Jackson, Newport Harbor Art Museum, Newport Beach, California (1993); Triton Museum of Art, Santa Clara, California (1993); among many others. Jackson’s work has been featured in prominent international group exhibitions including; Looking Back, White Columns, New York, New York (2024); Together., Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts, Little Rock, Arkansas (2023); What Has Been and What Could Be: The BAMPFA Collection, Berkeley Art Museum, Berkeley, California (2023); Our Whole, Unruly Selves, San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, California (2021); Expanding Abstraction: Pushing the Boundaries of Painting in the Americas, 1958-1983, Blanton Museum, University of Texas, Austin, Texas (2020); Dimensions of Black: A Collaboration with the San Diego African Art Museum of Fine Art, Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego, California. Traveled to: Manetti Shrem Museum of Art, University of California, Davis, California (2016); Safety in Numbers?, Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon (2011); among many others.

Sculptures by Jackson are in the permanent collections of the Detroit Institute of the Arts, Detroit, Michigan; Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, California; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; San Jose Museum of Art, San Jose, California; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Connecticut. His artworks are also represented in the permanent collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Illinois; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC; New Orleans Museum of Art, New Orleans, Louisiana; Portland Art Museum, Portland, Oregon; Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco, California; Seattle Art Museum, Seattle, Washington, and many more. Recent solo museum exhibitions include: Saint Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, Missouri (2021); di Rosa Center for Contemporary Art, Napa, California (2021); and National Gallery of Art, Washington, DC (2019). Jackson was the recipient of the 2023–24 Lee Krasner Award for lifetime achievement from the Pollock Krasner Foundation.


Support

Lead support for High Line Art comes from Amanda and Don Mullen. Major support is provided by Shelley Fox Aarons and Philip E. Aarons, The Brown Foundation, Inc. of Houston, and Charina Endowment Fund.

High Line Art is supported, in part, with public funds from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature, and the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the New York City Council, under the leadership of Speaker Adrienne Adams.

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Special thanks to Andrew Kreps Gallery, BLUM, and Lisson Gallery.