‘FOLLY’ IS
COMING TO UH

Public Art UHS Commissions Large-Scale Work by Jorge Pardo
for its Temporary Public Art Program

Rendering of Folly in outdoor space
"It's a total work of art."
María C. Gaztambide, Public Art UHS director and chief curator

Jorge Pardo’s masterful works exploring the intersection of functionality, art, technology and craftsmanship have appeared in the world’s top museums, homes, and hotel lobbies. Now the celebrated Cuban-American artist and sculptor is fabricating a large-scale piece to be on display this fall at the University of Houston.

“Folly” is the third project in Public Art of the University of Houston System’s Temporary Public Art Program and the second site-specific commission developed for Wilhelmina’s Grove, a serene on-campus gathering space anchoring the UH Arts District. Pardo’s installation will be on view from October 2021 through May 2022. The program is generously supported by The Brown Foundation, Inc.

Follies are decorative or ornamental buildings traditionally used in gardens. Typically, they have no practical purpose other than to provide aesthetic pleasure. But when placed in natural surroundings, such as a university campus, Pardo’s “Folly” – similar in size to a tiny house constructed of steel – will offer visual delight while inviting the community to question distinctions between fine art and design.

Portrait of artist Jorge Pardo standing again stone wall

Artist Jorge Pardo. Photo credit: Jorge Pardo Studio and Petzel, New York

Artist Jorge Pardo. Photo credit: Jorge Pardo Studio and Petzel, New York

“I’ve always thought that making an object that can enter the public sphere would be much more productive than framing it within a gallery,” Pardo has said. “I no longer had to think about the exhibition space as the threshold and the frame, but rather as part of a larger circuitry of things.”

Jorge Pardo, artist

Artist rendering of "Folly" in Wilhelmina's Grove in the UH Arts District

Artist rendering of "Folly" in Wilhelmina's Grove in the UH Arts District

Artist rendering of "Folly" in Wilhelmina's Grove in the UH Arts District

Pardo abstract painting that will be installed inside "Folly."

Image is one of several paintings that will be installed inside "Folly." Photo credit: Jorge Pardo Studio

Image is one of several paintings that will be installed inside "Folly." Photo credit: Jorge Pardo Studio

Artists in Jorge Pardo's Merida, Mexico studio paint the interior panels of "Folly."

Artists in Jorge Pardo's Merida, Mexico studio paint the interior panels of "Folly."

Rendering of "Folly" in the outdoor space

A different angle of artist rendering of "Folly." Photo credit: Jorge Pardo Studio

A different angle of artist rendering of "Folly." Photo credit: Jorge Pardo Studio

An assistant in Jorge Pardo's stassembles one of the chandeliers that will be installed inside "Folly."

An assistant in Jorge Pardo's studio assembles one of the chandeliers that will be installed inside "Folly."

An assistant in Jorge Pardo's studio assembles one of the chandeliers that will be installed inside "Folly."

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Pardo abstract painting that will be installed inside "Folly."

Image is one of several paintings that will be installed inside "Folly." Photo credit: Jorge Pardo Studio

Image is one of several paintings that will be installed inside "Folly." Photo credit: Jorge Pardo Studio

Artists in Jorge Pardo's Merida, Mexico studio paint the interior panels of "Folly."

Artists in Jorge Pardo's Merida, Mexico studio paint the interior panels of "Folly."

Rendering of "Folly" in the outdoor space

A different angle of artist rendering of "Folly." Photo credit: Jorge Pardo Studio

A different angle of artist rendering of "Folly." Photo credit: Jorge Pardo Studio

An assistant in Jorge Pardo's stassembles one of the chandeliers that will be installed inside "Folly."

An assistant in Jorge Pardo's studio assembles one of the chandeliers that will be installed inside "Folly."

An assistant in Jorge Pardo's studio assembles one of the chandeliers that will be installed inside "Folly."

Pardo's studio assistants pose under one of several chandeliers that will be installed inside "Folly." "Untitled 2021," is hand painted PETG with aluminum and steel fixtures.

Pardo's studio assistants pose under one of several chandeliers that will be installed inside "Folly." "Untitled 2021," is hand painted PETG with aluminum and steel fixtures.

Photo of "Spare Bedroom," (2014) by Jorge Pardo

Jorge Pardo, Spare Bedroom, 2014, Mixed media, 13.77 x 27.3 x 14 ft. Photo credit: Pardo and Petzel, New York.

Jorge Pardo, Spare Bedroom, 2014, Mixed media, 13.77 x 27.3 x 14 ft. Photo credit: Pardo and Petzel, New York.

Jorge Pardo's kitchen in Brooklyn, New York

Jorge Pardo's kitchen in his Brooklyn, New York home, 2020; photo credits: Pardo, Petzel, New York and Jason Mandella

Jorge Pardo's kitchen in his Brooklyn, New York home, 2020; photo credits: Pardo, Petzel, New York and Jason Mandella

Image of new monograph "Jorge Pardo: Public Projects and Commissions, 1996–2018" 

"Jorge Pardo: Public Projects and Commissions, 1996–2018,with texts by Emma Enderby, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Maja Hoffman, and Ian Volner, will be published by Petzel fall 2021. 

"Jorge Pardo: Public Projects and Commissions, 1996–2018,with texts by Emma Enderby, Hans Ulrich Obrist, Maja Hoffman, and Ian Volner, will be published by Petzel fall 2021. 

The exterior walls of “Folly” will be made of waterproof panels, and the interior will consist of hand-painted and laser-cut wood panels. Inside, the artist’s sculptural chandeliers will illuminate the architecturally scaled space.   

“It’s a total work of art,” said María C. Gaztambide, Public Art UHS director and chief curator. “‘Folly’ blurs the lines between painting, architecture and design; between artwork and living environment; between functional and ornamental space. The result is an indivisible, beautiful, whole.”

Employing a broad palette of vibrant colors, eclectic patterns and natural and industrial materials, Pardo often transforms familiar objects into works of art with multiple meanings and purposes – such as a set of lamps displayed as both sources of illumination and as freestanding sculptures, or a sailboat exhibited as both a utilitarian, seaworthy vessel and as a striking obelisk.

Born in Havana, Cuba, Pardo currently lives and works in Mérida, Mexico. A recipient of a 2010 MacArthur Foundation Fellowship, Pardo has displayed his artwork in numerous public collections including the Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; Boijmans van Beuningen Museum, Rotterdam; Museum of Contemporary Art, Miami; Museum of Modern Art, New York, and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. 

One of the goals of Public Art UHS’s Temporary Public Art Program is to challenge artists like Pardo to delve into unchartered territories and expand the reach of their work, explained Gaztambide.

“Jorge has said that he enjoys ‘showing’ rather than ‘making’ architecture,” she said. “We are honored to provide a space for his continued creative experimentation through ‘Folly’ and are excited to share with our public Jorge’s unique approach to art making and architecture.”

Pardo will be the subject of a forthcoming publication “Jorge Pardo: Public Projects and Commissions, 1996– 2018,” to be published by Petzel Publications in Fall 2021, available via Simon & Schuster.

For more information about Pardo’s upcoming project at UH, visit the Public Art UHS website.