Santtu Mustonen for

The Idea

For the fifth anniversary of Art Series, New York City Ballet commissioned a dynamic art installation from the Finnish-born, Brooklyn-based artist Santtu Mustonen. The centerpiece of Mustonen’s commission features a large-scale video installation created from a series of original paintings that the artist produced especially for New York City Ballet. Mustonen’s paintings are also on display on the orchestra level of the theater throughout the winter season, January through February 2017.


By combining abstract, handcrafted visual imagery with new technology, Mustonen makes visual art that literally moves. “I see a lot of connections to dance in my work,” says Mustonen. “By using digital tools to animate paintings, I can make a work move almost like a dancer.”

Launched in 2013, New York City Ballet’s Art Series features annual collaborations between NYCB and contemporary visual artists who create original works for exhibition at the Company’s home, the David H. Koch Theater at Lincoln Center. Previously commissioned artists include FAILE, JR, Dustin Yellin, and Marcel Dzama.

Inspired by the theater’s iconic Promenade, Mustonen’s commission embraces the space’s towering height and multiple vantage points with an animated video installation that plays with scale and alters viewers’ perceptions in an Alice in Wonderland fashion.

A series of five large-scale C-prints sit at either end of the orchestra entry, each eliciting the feeling of a fleeting moment in time, capturing the graceful motion of Santtu’s mesmerizing animation in 2D form. “I like the action of making a mark,” says Mustonen, “what’s going on is the motion, and it’s beautiful. The mark is just proof of the beautiful action.”

Special thanks to Gamma NYC, Hard Work Party, SenovvA, and sound composer Tuomas Alatalo.