‘It’s a call to action, it’s a call to worry’: Daniel Libeskind on how art is leading the fight against climate change

His parents fled the holocaust, but today he fears an even more insidious enemy. The architect speaks to William Cook about how his sculptures depict a modern vision of impending doom

Wednesday 29 May 2019 16:31
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‘The Garden of Earthly Worries’ sculptures function as a call-to-arms in the fight against climate change
‘The Garden of Earthly Worries’ sculptures function as a call-to-arms in the fight against climate change

In the ornamental gardens of Paleis Het Loo, a baroque mansion in Holland, Daniel Libeskind is talking about his four new sculptures, which have been erected amid these tidy flowerbeds. Sculptures by Daniel Libeskind? Isn’t he an architect, not a sculptor? Well, as it happens, yes and no.

Libeskind is famous for his monumental buildings: the Jewish Museum in Berlin, the Imperial War Museum North in Salford and the master plan for Ground Zero, the site of the World Trade Centre in New York – monolithic structures which are as much sculptural as architectural. For Libeskind, these two disciplines have always been intertwined. “I see them as very interconnected,” he tells me. “Borromini, Bernini, Michelangelo...” The names of sculptor-architects of the Renaissance rattle off his tongue.

And so these four sculptures aren’t that much of a departure, especially when their meaning becomes clear. This sculptural quartet is called The Garden of Earthly Worries, after Hieronymus’s Bosch’s great triptych, The Garden of Earthly Delights. Yet while Bosch’s painting depicted a medieval vision of paradise, Libeskind’s sculptures depict a modern vision of impending doom.

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