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Artist Robert Swain creates permanent color installation for One South First in Williamsburg
Robert Swain, Color Sensation Cube, 2019. Glass. 197.5 in. x 96 in. x 237.75 in. Installed at One South First, Brooklyn, NY.Courtesy the artist, Minus Space, and Two Trees Management Co. Photo by Yao Zu Lu.

BROOKLYN, NY.- Two Trees today unveiled a new commission by the renowned artist Robert Swain, a permanent installation for the lobby of One South First, the second building at the Domino Sugar Factory site in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.

An integral part of the building’s architecture, Color Sensation Cube, Swain’s first work in glass, creates a multifaceted immersive environment located in the residential lobby. The 45-story building comprises two interlocking towers, integrating residential, recreational, office, and retail spaces across the site. Designed by renowned architecture firm COOKFOX, the building’s distinct facade is inspired by the structure of sugar crystals, honoring the site’s history as one of the world’s largest sugar refineries.

“Robert Swain is one of the most influential artists of his generation and a key member of the Hunter Color School. We are thrilled to have commissioned to create this new work for One South First and bring his 50 years of research on the phenomenology of color into a new medium. Color Sensation Cube adds a depth of color to the site, creating an engaging and visually rich experience for residents and visitors,” said Kate Gavriel, Two Trees Cultural Affairs Director.

Color Sensation Cube is Robert Swain’s latest investigation into the color system he has developed and refined over the past 50 years. Representing nine hues from his 30-part color circle, the eight-foot-tall colored glass panels in Color Sensation Cube are positioned across a 325 SF area to create a dynamic array of colors that change with the viewers perspective and time of day. These colors are amplified by the space's muted palette of cast concrete, stainless steel, and polished white terrazzo floors, creating a radiating centerpiece for the space.

Swain began his color-based work in 1966 and has since created a color library with 4,896 distinct hues. Through his exploration of color, Swain has set out to create artworks that generate complex and nuanced sensations, stimulated by the physiological changes produced by our perception of color. Color Sensation Cube translates these concerns into a new medium for the artist, playing on the historic use of stained glass as a vehicle for enhancing architectural sites. For the installation, Swain, presents color exclusively, similar to his paintings which are void of representational imagery.

“Perceptual psychologists have theorized that the human eye can perceive 100,000 or more distinct colors and note that color emanates from the electromagnetic spectrum,” said artist Robert Swain. “The energy from the spectrum activates the perceptual process in humans and, in turn, stimulates emotional feelings. The quest of this work of art was to activate the spectral sensations of color and fill the architectural space with a color experience.”

Swain, member of the Hunter Color School, has exhibited nationally and internationally for more than 40 years, and his work is represented in nearly 300 public and private collections, including the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Corcoran Gallery of Art, Walker Art Center, Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Milwaukee Art Museum, Denver Art Museum, Detroit Institute of Art, Everson Art Museum, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, and Columbus Gallery of Fine Arts, among others. He has received awards from the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, National Endowment for the Arts (1976, 1989), New York State Council on the Arts, and the City University of New York. In addition to his artistic work, Swain taught in the Department of Art & Art History at Hunter College from 1968-2014, where he educated and mentored countless generations of artists.

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