Elyn Zimmerman, Palisades, 1981

Elyn Zimmerman, Palisades Project, 1981, unrealized, image: elynzimmerman.com

In 1981 sculptor Elyn Zimmerman proposed to polish a sliver of the 300 ft tall basalt cliffs of the Palisades in New Jersey to a mirror finish, so that it would reflect—depending on your angle—the Manhattan bank of the Hudson, the river itself, or the sky.

She showed the maquette of the Palisades Project [above] at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, which also commissioned a related sculpture, a dramatic, 8 x 21-foot freestanding wall of one polished and seven natural cleft granite slabs, for the museum entrance.

Elyn Zimmerman, Palisades (Project), 1981, granite, 8 x 21 ft., selling at Christie’s 17 July 2024

When the NY Times visited it in 1982, it was untitled. At some point, it became known as Palisades (1981), and in 1990 it was reinstalled at a winery in Napa with the artist’s involvement, and a reflecting pool, echoing the Hudson, perhaps, was added. It was sold in 2014, and it is now for sale again, this second, decidedly mid reflecting trough not included. Christie’s calls it Palisades Project both times.

Zimmerman’s original proposal had an undeniably thrilling aspect to it, a spectacular vision born of mind-freeing drives upstate. Of course, it was also impossible. The basalt of the Palisades does not polish to a mirror finish. No doubt realizing this at the time, Zimmerman’s Yonkers exhibit included an alternate proposal to mount a polished granite skin on the cliff face, at which point you might as well just stick an actual 300-ft tall mirror on there.

Thus, though that one piece could maybe use some polishing, Palisades Project [sic] survives as the ideal realization of the concept. Bidding starts at $100, plus shipping.