way to return to the city . . . from holidays to faraway places,
from long lazy summer afternoons in the city, from time away to
work on literary novels, from any sort of sabbatical at all . . .
than to step into the jewel box that has alit on the banks of the
East River and take a ride on a painted, gold-leafed steed with
glittering glass eyes.
rendering by Ateliers Jean Nouvel of Jane's Carousel
which opens to the public on September 16, is housed, as its
envisioned, like some ‘bijou’ in his very modern transparent
pavilion. Acrylic chosen instead of transparent glass for
its delicate distortions—the view of city touched then by some of
the conjury of old circus mirrors, as if now seen through the
clearest gently-flowing water. All the more enchanting for
the contrast with the rough-tough industrial aesthetic of the
bridges and warehouses of Dumbo. And so, not only the ride
itself, but one with whirling wild views of river and skyline, of
tracery of steel-wire cables of Brooklyn Bridge.
that other Pavilion from last summer at the
in the Kensington Gardens in London, of the
du Monde Arabe
in Paris, of
in downtown NYC: renowned for his brilliant site-specific work, an
architecture of drama where materials, technology, and light are
used to evoke a certain mood, a certain magic. Context is
everything in his oeuvre.
round, whirligig, roundabout. The carousel has a long civil
and martial history, embellished with all the romance that circus
and fairground can conjure. There’s a Byzantine bas-relief
that dates to the 5th century of a ride—a central pole from which
riders swing on baskets. And over the centuries there are
the layered influences of war horses, Arabian warriors, jousts,
chivalric war play, horse ballet, and the training for all these
things on early prototypes of the mechanized carousel which was
developed in France in the 17th century.
is a restored
antique, built in 1922 by the Philadelphia Toboggan Company, and a
marvelous specimen of its kind. And has been rather
meticulously restored and refinished. These horses have had
their carvings cleaned, their paint retouched, their gold-leaf
reapplied . . . . all the better to take one on that high-stepping
magic ride…. We can’t wait!
horse from the carousel at the Jardin du Luxembourg
In the Jardin
du Luxembourg in Paris, the famous Carousel dates from 1879.
The poet Rainer Maria Rilke was entranced by this fleeting world
of whirling horses . . . .
roof and the roof’s shadow turns
this train of painted horses for a while
In this bright land that lingers
Before it perishes….
But to dispel
any lingering gloom from that last word of that lovely translation
from the German, we say all one has to do is get back on that
Carousel (opening September 16)
the Rilke poem online:
Merry-Go-Round, Jardin du Luxembourg, tr. C.F. MacIntyre
Ponies, American Carousel Art
new york buildings