Rachel Feinstein's The Snow Queen transforms an icon of 20th century
modernist architecture into a fantastic theatrical environment that references 19th century styles and symbols. It is inspired by Han Christian Andersen's fairy tale of the same title, first published in 1845, which is a long and convoluted tale that centers on the struggle between good and evil as experienced by two young children. Feinstein has made a personal interpretation of the tale, exploring
themes of beauty, fantasy, and ruin, and borrowing images and themes such as soldiers, roses, children, ice, and a gold coach, rather than making a literal recreation of the fairy tale's narrative.
The Snow Queen's Room is a space that cannot be entered, but only
seen from outside through the lobby windows and through arched alcoves in the interior walls that display sculptures of characters in the tale. The white paneled room, the lair of the cold and evil Queen, is reminiscent of a florid Rococo period room, and is done in a Carpenter Gothic style that was prevalent in the United
States in the late 1800's. Feinstein borrows both the style and the methods used by past house-carpenters to cut and layer flat sheets of plywood for decorative details. Using a jigsaw to shape pointed arches, steep gables, and fanciful architectural details, the artist demonstrates a unique approach to making
sculpture. The colorfully painted and hinged parade of toy soldiers, also display Feinstein's method of cuffing and building these objects by hand; they are not carved, sculpted, molded, or fabricated commercially.
A second, two-sidOd room reveals another theMe and technique. On floor to ceiling glass mirrors, Feinstein has painted architectural ruins in a bucolic, sweeping landscape. Using a muted grisaille palette, the room evokes a dark and mysterious atmosphere that suggests nature overpowering the presence of man. Outside in the planter, under a barren tree, Feinstein has stationed a regal gilded carriage. It takes its inspiration from 19th century Austrian royal stagecoaches, and also from a coach used by the young protagonist of the fairy tale. The three-dimensional carriage was constructed of joined and curved pieces of wood that have been cast in metal and brightly gilded. The broken axles and wheels that have upturned the rider-less and horse-less carriage suggest mystery and danger, which is enhanced by the glow of a flickering gas flame. The Snow Queen ignites the imagination and invites the viewer to experience the whimsy, magic, mystery, and fantasy of a fairy tale.
Rachel Feinstein was born in Ft. Defiance, Arizona, in 1971, grew up in Coral Gables, Florida, and lives and works in New York City. She studied at Columbia University, New York (B.A., 1993), and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Maine (1993). Her work has been exhibited internationally, including a survey at Le Consortium, Dijon, France, and frequent one-woman exhibitions at Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York.
Richard D. Marshall, Curator
THE SNOW QUEEN, 2010-11
Consisting of The Soldiers, The Snow Queen's Room, Ruins in The Mirror Room, Golden Carriage (in outdoor planter), Flower Girl (in planter), Girl and Reindeer, Goblin and Children, and Goblin and Mirror (in niches).
Lever House Art Collection, New York