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Flushing Meadows Corona Park

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History

This text is part of Parks’ Historical Signs Project and can be found posted within the park.

This sinuous, abstract and kinetic stainless steel sculpture, known as Form, was created by Jose de Rivera for the New York World’s Fair of 1964-65 held in this park.

The New York World’s Fair Corporation, under the direction of former Parks Commissioner Robert Moses (1888–1981), established a Committee on Sculpture in 1961 to select sculptors whose work ranged “from contemporary conservative to the more conservative avant-garde.” The committee arrived at a short list of ten recommended modernist sculptors, many of whom displeased Moses and the Fair’s chief designer Gilmore Clarke (1892–1982), whose tastes were more traditional. Ultimately, five sculptors were commissioned to create pieces which would outlast the fair in the park, including de Rivera, Paul Manship (1885–1966), Marshall Fredericks (1908–1998), Theodore Roszak (1907–1981), and Donald De Lue (1897–1988).

De Rivera was born Jose A. Ruiz in West Baton Rouge, Louisiana on September 18, 1904. When he was six his family relocated from his mother’s sugar plantation to New Orleans, where he attended public school. He later adopted his maternal grandmother’s maiden name, de Rivera, as his surname. In his youth de Rivera worked with his father, learning about machine repair with the engineers in a sugar mill. After graduating high school in 1922, de Rivera worked as a journeyman in foundries and machine shops.

In 1924, de Rivera moved to Chicago, Illinois, where visits to the Art Institute and Field Museum inspired his interest in sculpture. From 1928 to 1931, he studied drawing at the Studio School in Chicago, and in 1930 he created his first sculptures of small geometric images of humans and animals. In 1932, de Rivera took an independent study trip to Europe and North Africa and upon his return dedicated himself to a career as a sculptor.

De Rivera’s first construction, a painted aluminum piece called Red and Black (Double Element) was made in 1938, and that same year he sculpted a work called Flight for Newark Airport. He contributed sculptures to the New York World’s Fair of 1939-40, also held at Flushing Meadow, and to the Brussels World’s Fair of 1958. He had a long career of creating largely abstract sculpture, for which he received many accolades and was the subject of several major museum retrospectives. De Rivera said of his work: “What I make represents nothing but itself,” and of his aesthetic intent commented: “Art for me is a creative process of individual production without immediate goal or finality. The prime function is the total experience of the production; the social function, the communication of that experience.”

De Rivera’s sculptures have been compared to “drawing in space,” and Form is an example of this. The work consists of a slender, curvilinear tapered band of stainless steel which is poised by a steel pin above a black granite pyramidal pedestal. Within the base is a motor, which causes the sculpture to slowly revolve, automatically transforming the viewer’s perspective.

In 1992-93, the sculpture was restored with funds from the De Rivera Foundation and the City, under the auspices of the Adopt-A-Monument Program, a joint venture of Parks, the Municipal Art Society, and the New York City Art Commission. At that time, the eroded pedestal was replaced with a more durable matching granite, the sculpture was polished, and the motor inside replaced. The surrounding area was landscaped with new lawns and shrubbery as part of the general improvements to the park’s core.

Photo of Form sculpture in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens

Free Form Details

  • Sculptor: Jose De Rivera
  • Description: Form on base
  • Materials: Stainless steel, Atlantic black granite (polished)
  • Dimensions: Form H: 12'; Base H: 8'10"
  • Cast: 1964
  • Dedicated: 1964
  • Inscription: JOSE DE RIVERA / 1964

Please note, the NAME field includes a primary designation as well as alternate namings often in common or popular usage. The DEDICATED field refers to the most recent dedication, most often, but not necessarily the original dedication date. If the monument did not have a formal dedication, the year listed reflects the date of installation.

For more information, please contact Art & Antiquities at (212) 360-8143

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